in Curating, ZHdK
Adriana Domínguez Velasco with Mateo Chacón Pino
Fühlst du nicht an meinen Liedern, dass ich eins und doppelt bin
16 January–28 February 2015
Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
Javier Téllez, Melanie Smith, John Duncan, Michael Najjar, María García Ibáñez, Pascal Schwaighofer
Group show: “Eins und doppelt” (one and double). With these words, Goethe described the leaves of the gingko tree —which seem to be split into two— but also his relationship to Marianne von Willemer. In his poem “Gingko Biloba” (1815), he created a delicate metaphor for friendship, by asking whether the gingko leaf used to be one leaf, which split into two, or rather two leaves, which merged into one.
The question, which goes without an answer, reminds also of Goethe’s own interests as a poet and a naturalist. He was able to combine aesthetic and analytical principles in his oeuvre without contradiction. And how could they even contradict? The only distinction between art and science is not an aesthetic, but rather a methodological one: both intellectual disciplines produce knowledge and thus shape reality and subjects. Just as there is no creation of knowledge without a link to the aesthetic representation, the arts are in need of a systematic reading to fulfil their own purposes.
In the same manner as Goethe’s poem, the exhibition brings together a group of artworks that portray the encounter of nature, science and aesthetics. Like the gingko leaf, the works are of a dual identity, shifting between the realms of the aesthetic and the scientific. In their visual aspects, the display strategies of the exhibited works are similar to those in museums of natural sciences or history: they appear as scientific representations, but they lack a proper scientific approach. The artistic outcome is not the result of an experiment, it rather shows a process or appropriation. Forms of visualization are borrowed from the characteristics of science, for instance engineering, botanical and geographical drawings, microscopic models, taxidermy, etc.
The often forgotten by-product of industry and science, namely the aesthetic form of their results, is at the centre of the exhibition, characterizing the tension analysed by Michel Foucault in his book “Histoire de la Folie”, which describes the inability of science to understand madness, thus depreciating it by turning its discourse into something negative. Based on this reference, the exhibition depicts how the by-products of a particular discipline can become the main value of another. For science, the aesthetic aspect is an unintended effect, but in the field of the arts it turns into the essential.