the middle of the exhibition room lies "it." It
is just one of the most natural three-dimensional creations
of man: a small heap, an excrement. The young woman, who
sits in the exhibition room every day, gets up from time
to time in order to present her work at this place. Next
to her: a photograph, in which the beauty of the anal is
compared to that of the floral.
Something else is lying on the floor not far from this: a witch, streaming
blood, who obviously dove and crashed against the blue wall. With a broom
between her legs like a phallus, and with her neck broken like a bird after
colliding with a window pane, she has lost her life.
At the same time, a video is presented. A young woman tells of her best
mistake up to now, an abortion. She relates it as her personal fate in
an honest yet not bitter or moralizing way, but as an existential experience
that changed her life, because she had to make a decision on life and death.
The symbiosis of life and art is known to have been a topos of the art discourse
for a long time. However, the notion of life is often used as an abstract concept,
as just the opposite of art. Yet, what is life (however banal the question)?
And what about the really essential, the eternal circle of birth, life and
From its very beginnings, art has been concerned with these subjects, designing
great mythological constructs and involving religious inventions. With the
beginning of modernism, these subjects were approached once more with utmost
radicality. Yet since art has entered the stage of heightened self-reflexivity,
the traces become blurred.
The exhibition condenses three artworks into a comprehensive image, which deals
with the existential subjects of being human in a very up-to-date way. It unites
the definitive events between which our existence takes place and projects
them into the exhibition space. Actually, the exhibition itself is a kind of
live-show, the only artistic medium in all three contributions being real people.
Thus it tells the story of life and death and simultaneously illustrates the
fact that especially these subjects are often taboo both in art and
The positions gathered in this exhibition approach these questions about human
existence in a way that is radical enough to break up these taboos. Physical
as well as spiritual life in its concrete biological-anatomical determinedness
of becoming and passing, the power and the powerlessness of the flesh, are
the focus. The exhibition as a whole makes the visitors aware of the determined
nature of their existence, an existence that is established between beginning
and end, between birth and death and only knows these as definite parameters.
In his work, Japanese artist Noritoshi Hirakawa (born in 1960) often shows
everyday behavior which is highly taboo in our modern society, both western
and eastern. Among his best-known works are large-scale photo-portraits of
young squatting Japanese women. They do not wear underwear and might start
urinating any moment. This direct and seemingly almost normal way of presenting
their de-tabooed behavior is disarming and touches on shame as well as on desire.
Hirakawa knows about the secret laws of taboos which at the border of
sense and nonsense force stimulation. In his work "The Home-Coming
of Navel String," realized in this exhibition for the first time, he confronts
us with the biological circle of becoming and decaying, illustrated by the
process of digestion as an indicator of life, thus touching on another highly
tabooed part of human life. And yet, this is one of the most natural things:
man is determined by his physical rhythm of ingestion and excretion, from mouth
to anus. With every evacuation, he deliberately gives away a piece of his lifetime.
Thus, Hirakawa also proposes a new appreciation of life in all its universal
Similar to the historical tableaux vivants, French artist Pierre Joseph (born
in 1965) enacts little narrative scenarios with living persons, especially
the death of well-known mythological figures and popular literary characters.
Fairy tale figures and Easy Rider heroes, toreros and cowboys they all
belong to the inventory of our collective consciousness, and in Josephs
tableaux, they all die a most human or even pitiful death. The era of media
innocence has just passed away and its heroes and heroines have disappeared.
Their former, mythically transfigured existence was frozen in the moment of
its end, when human existence is mercilessly confronted with all its banalty.
Pierre Joseph's characters perish tragically, though certainly not heroically.
This is also true for "The Witch," presented in this exhibition.
The witch as a monstrous invention of human paranoia at the beginning of modern
times is one of the dark phenomena that accompanied the triumph of reason.
Later on, she became a regular and also downplayed figure in
our fairy tales, from which Pierre Joseph now violently tears her away. For
an infinitely short second, she is brought to life just in order to
die, thus suffering the same fate as all of us. With this work, Joseph has
created a very impressive and unequivocal image of death.
In the work of British artist Tracey Emin (born in 1963), the seemingly documentary
video "How It Feels" also focusses on a woman, i.e. the artist herself.
In a moving manner, she tells about her experience as a woman who had an abortion
and hence took on the decision regarding the life or death of another human,
the decision of rejecting or admitting it. While reporting, she returns to
the stages of this decision. The places that were decisive for this period
of her life become a mirror of her psychological state.
Tracey Emin's artistic subject is her personal life with all its ups and
downs. Yet she always retains her dignity and her self-confidence. Her work
becomes the indicator of a time in which only the reference to the personal,
to the subjective, is permanent in the end. And that is one's own life
with all one's big and small problems, one's fears of losses, ones
lonelinesses and despairs, but also ones passions and pleasures. Emin's
way of returning to the origins of being and becoming human is both irritating
and touching. On her bargain table of the products of fate, there is something
for everyone to identify with.