Rational / Irrational
An exhibition with works by Pawel Althamer, Arthur Bispo do Rosário, François Bucher, Hanne Darboven, Juan Downey, Javier Téllez
Sat, Nov 8, 2008–Sun, Jan 11, 2009
Where is the boundary between rationality and irrationality? How thin is the line between behaviour that we generally consider ‘normal’ and that of people who dance on the verge of social acceptance? The six artists that curator Valerie Smith has brought together for their first exhibition at the House of World Cultures explore psychological states of emergency that take them to the limits of logic and to new perceptions of reality.
The Brazilian Arthur Bispo do Rosário (1911–1989) and the Chilean Juan Downey (1940–1993) are the central figures in an exhibition that opens up perspectives for alternative ways of thinking and living, and triggers associations with cultures in other corners of the world. Although 'Bispo' has never considered himself an artist, his firm belief in God and his tireless preparations for the Day of Judgement materialise in icons made of embroideries and hospital furniture – works that have earned him admiration as a contemporary artist. Downey’s pioneering works during the early days of video reveal not only a sense of irony towards this technology but also his reverence towards the ways of life of the indigenous cultures of the Amazon – a flight from prescribed notions of freedom.
To the works of Bispo and Downey must be those of the three other artists. In his experiments, Polish artist Pavel Althamer tries to free himself from social conventions by experimenting with mind-bending drugs, immersing himself in prenatal worlds and following his animal instincts in an endeavour to become pure again. His exhibit is entitled: ‘So-called waves and other phenomena of the mind’. In collaboration with Artur Zmijewski.
The videos and performances created by Javier Tellez (Venezuela/USA) lend a voice to the schizophrenics, depressives and paranoiacs with renderings of individual interpretations of classical stage material and film plots. Under commission for the exhibition, he is filming a new interpretation of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with psychiatric patients in front of the expressionist Einstein Tower.
François Bucher’s (Columbia/USA) montages of news sequences and interviews create a highly concentrated game-within-a-game at the interface between reality and fiction, centred on the violent psyche caught between tension, terror and manipulation. The title of his double-projection installation signals Severa Vigilancia: (Strict Surveillance).
After working as a pianist, the German artist Hanne Darboven (*1941) began studying at Hamburg Art Academy in 1962. Four years later she left the art academy and moved from Germany to New York. Her work focuses on the visualisation of periods of time as structures that fundamentally influence our lives. Since 1980, she has been translating her sequences of numbers into music too. Nationally and internationally, Hanne Darboven’s works occupy an outstanding position within contemporary art.