in Curating, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)
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8 August 2008
White Space Zurich
Habib Asal (PS/CH), Clare Goodwin (GB/CH), Me And Sotheby (CH), Gabriele Rérat (CH), Stefanie Trojan (D)
The Opening – Insights into the Flexibility of the Prelude to an Exhibition
The exhibition opening or vernissage normally marks the point in time at which a show’s planning and organization are concluded. From this moment of fixation on, the show is in a finished state which is no longer to be changed, but at the same time it now becomes accessible to visitors for the first time. During the opening, a space which is difficult to control thus opens up temporarily. In comparison to the later reception of the show, the opening offers a break, a rupture, literally an opening.
The vernissage is a unique state, a spectacle, contrasting with the otherwise rather religious viewing of art. The main attraction is the social gathering, not the reception of the art. The exhibition space becomes a temporary stage for various players: the curator/s, gallery owner/s, artist/s, critic/s, and/or collector/s.
The exhibition “The Opening” investigates these systems of meaning which go into operation during the vernissage, and takes advantage of the opportunity to curate a vernissage in condensed form. The specific course of events at an opening, the typical social gathering and its mechanisms are critically choreographed by the artists invited to participate. The temporary state of the gallery during the opening in contrast with the contemplative, moderate reception of art is examined in a dense assembly of various works.
The work of Palestinian-Swiss artist Habib Asal revolves around the social and institutional framework conditions and contexts in which artworks emerge. He moreover looks at his own expectations as well as those of the recipients in connection with the presentation of his art later on. Asal’s approach is an endeavour to expose reference systems in a playful manner.
An English artist living in Zurich, Clare Goodwin works with the media of painting and installation. As part of her artistic work, she creates idiosyncratic and often puzzling buffets. The latter consist of a combination of affectionately designed snacks and questionable decorations of the 1960s/70s. The visitors are invited to help themselves to the snacks. With this gesture of hospitality, Goodwin investigates marketing praxes often also encountered in art institutions.
Me and Sotheby is a Zurich-based artists’ and music group. On the occasion of “The Opening” they will present themselves for the first time in public in this form to explore the boundaries between art and commerce, authenticity and staging. Their presentation form oscillates between performance and concert. Me and Sotheby thus test the coordinates of their own identification and their self-staging as musicians and performers.
An artist of Zurich originally from Bern, Gabriele Rérat works with installations, painting and performances. Discoveries and coincidental occurrences from within the context of everyday life become the subject of further “processing”. Ranging from slightly confusing to poetic-abstract, the realizations of her works are carried out ad absurdum, and also characterize her performances. Rérat was a longstanding member of the Basel performance group G.A.B.I. who moreover developed works with the artists’ group from Zurich.
Rérat plans to test the susceptibility of the vernissage guests to viruses very politely by means of a very special kind of degustation.
The German artist Stefanie Trojan questions the habits and behavioural patterns of people in general and vernissage guests in particular. In this context, Trojan is concerned above all with the interim spaces of human existence. The artist develops her performances in the manner of social investigations, inspects routines and taboos with regard to their value, and passes her questions on to the viewer. The outcome of a given performance is dependent on the reactions of the people present. The artist will participate in “The Opening” with an audio work.
White Space Office for Curating/Art/Theory: www.whitespace.ch
Realised with support from the TSADIK Foundation