Exhibition text

Before the Modern art art was in the service of the representation of man and the world in the sense of nobility and church. The Modern art begins with the autonomous art, which frees itself from this service. Since then, art asks itself the question what it is for and what it represents, thus also what reality is, especially its own reality. If reality is what results from the relations of people to each other and to their environment, then art is also a product of these relations. Art that questions itself makes these relations visible and thus represents a provocation, because it thus reveals the power relations in society and in the art field. At the same time art withdraws from these relations and proves its autonomy. Art as counter-reality questions reality as seemingly fixed relations, dissolves them and considers them in their possibilities. It opens and goes new ways and is thus a practice of freedom.

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Courbet's realism no longer depicts princes, but with the "Stone Knockers" the laborious work as a real foundation of the world that had been suppressed by art until then. Manet's "Olympia" shows a real prostitute instead of an idealized female nude and causes a scandal. Impressionism analyzes the reality of the image as a product of seeing: on closer inspection, the image dissolves into individual dots; at a greater distance, the dots together form recognizable shapes. Cubism exposes pictorial space and the figure as a two-dimensional illusion. Abstraction is, among other things, a product of the realization that what we perceive as reality is nothing compared to what we ourselves can no longer perceive, but which we know is there with the help of science and technology, or are esoterically convinced is there. In Informel, the abstraction of the 50s, it is no longer about the reality in the picture, but the reality of the picture itself as the action of painting and as the material i.e. paint and canvas. The new realism, on the other hand, is neither representation nor design of reality, but shows what reality itself produces: Spoerri glues down the things of a table, on which previously was eaten, drunk and smoked, and tilts it by 90 degrees. All these examples question in their time what art is and open the view for what reality is.

In 1960 Spoerri fixed things on the tabletop of his hotel room in Paris for the first time. Subsequently, he held dinners in his own restaurant and on special occasions, where at some point the trap snaps shut: everything has to be left standing and is thus fixed on the base. The exhibition shows "trap pictures" created in this way from the "Seville series". Better than with Duchamp's Ready Mades, with which he claims that only the exhibition context, i.e. the museum, turns art into art, e.g. the urinal or the bottle dryer, the "Fallenbilder" can be understood with John Cage's musical piece 4:33 min: A pianist plays no sound for "4:33 min." In doing so, Cage opens a window of time in which attention is focused on the sounds outside and inside the concert hall, especially those of the audience and the individual listener himself. The time window is an acoustic trap image that makes one aware of the infinity of sounds and noises not only within this time period, but beyond it in reality at all. In this way, Cage also draws attention to a basic condition of art: that which is there by itself is cleared away or displaced to make room for that which is to be shown. By not playing, the pianist reveals the infinity of what is displaced by his playing. In this sense, there is no difference between art and everyday reality. Here, too, what is there by itself is ignored and only what serves the respective intention is seen, e.g. the hammer to hang a picture on the wall. This tabula rasa leads in music to (supposed) silence and in painting to Rauschenberg's white canvas. Spoerri, on the other hand, does not make a clean slate, but records how reality plays out on that table at a particular moment. For those who participate in Spoerri's meal and do not know when the trap will snap shut, as in Cage's "4:33 min," they thus become aware not only of each moment with its infinite and random details, but also of how they help to shape it.

Another of Spoerri's strategies for capturing reality is to collect things and combine them in collages. In this way Spoerri reacts to the consumer society that emerged at the end of the 1950s with the economic boom. New products in new commodity aesthetics changed the entire everyday world aesthetically in a very short time. At the same time, the old worn-out objects fell victim to the throwaway society, and a world disappeared. While Pop Art enthusiastically welcomes the new product world and the advertising for it, Spoerri collects the old things at garbage dumps and flea markets. By collecting the excluded, the repressed, the discarded, the useless of society, objects that have fallen out of their cycle of usefulness, that no longer have a place in the order of things, Spoerri makes us aware of the system of culture with its mechanisms of devaluation and exclusion: "You have to give reality itself to look at. Not its chocolate side, but crap, trash, the eaten table." Working in Paris as a tourist guide, he shows not the Eiffel Tower, but the bidonvilles, the slums.

In his collages Spoerri brings together his found objects and reproduces the absurd juxtaposition of the everyday and the strange from different areas, times and regions, which reality also constantly produces. The surrealist motto of the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table manifests itself in these collages, as does the Romantic collection of fragments and the postmodernist notion of the co-spatiality and simultaneity of all things. With these collages he also exposes every order and every system as arbitrary, but especially our museums with their strict separation between the different areas. Spoerri's collections and collages are more reminiscent of their predecessors, the cabinets of curiosities and cabinets of curiosities, in which works of art stood on an equal footing with globes and telescopes, taxidermy and inlaid deformities, thus arousing wonder at the diversity of the world.


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