Substitut – The Publication

Substitut – The Publication
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Table of content
1 – 2 Heinz Stahlhut Foreword
3 – 7 Urs Küenzi Nobody must have to: on running an art space.
8 – 16 Claudia Wahjudi spoke intimately with Urs Küenzi about the Substitut and Berlin.
17 – 20 Emilia Sulek gives her view of the Substitut as both attendant and anthropologist.
21 – 27 Kordula Fritze-Srbic analyzes Berlin’s artistic landscape and the changes conditions in the independent scene.
28 – 36 Christian Saehrendt doubts that being an artist is a dream job but has a recipe for success.
37 – 42 Heinrich Gartentor is stuck in Mannheim and reflects over a caffè latte about Switzerland’s art system and his political career.
43 – 50 Sally De Kunst discusses via Skype with artist Maria Guggenbichler about the role of the curator and together they author a manifesto.

Pompidou in Tokyo

A glamourous marquee of lights, a blinding reception desk, scratching sound, screaming children or piano tunes. Entering the exhibition of Philippe Parreno at Palais de Tokyo is impressive. A huge pixelated screen at the end of the vast first floor draws the attention. Alternating images of flowers, the face of a newborn, a squid or a mechanical writing machine from the 18th century.
Strolling through the beautiful other spaces, always slightly unsettled by the omnipresent flickering lights, is like being on an artistic expedition. Hidden behind a rotating bookcase (Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, La Bibliothèque clandestine, 2013) one finds an exhibition by John Cage and Merce Cunningham (A Reenactement: Margarete Roeder Gallery, 2002-2013), behind a huge projection of “Marylin, 2012” appears a heap of snow, in a marred, raw theater space a girl talks (Tino Sehgal, Annlee, 2011). Attracted by more screams one walks down some stairs and enters a room full of projections showing “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, 2006” (Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno). But being down there the impression of the surrounding space itself becomes stronger than the actual piece. Supported by the flickering lights, a post-industrial, post apocalyptic or maybe even extraterrestrial atmosphere culminated.
Of course the overall setting, the Palais de Tokyo itself, becomes a piece of art. As the leaflet says: The visitor is invited into a choreography. Spending some time in the exhibition really takes you “Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World” as the title promises. But maybe a little bit too far.

After the visit I wasn’t sure if I was just overpowered by a spectacular setting.

Unfortunately not spectacular enough was the setting of Pierre Huyghe’s solo show at Centre Pompidou. Of course I was pleased to meet again the dog with the pink leg (Human, 2011-2013) and the sculpture with the bees-head, “Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt), 2012” (sic!) from documenta13.
But all those raw plaster walls are too pretentious and they are narrowing the space to a point where they just obstruct the view. Why does an artist project an epic loop of his excellent films in an angle where only five people can sit and other visitors constantly run by stooped down?
Sometimes performances happened. I spent about 2h in the crowded exhibition, also hold back by the feeling of not wanting to miss something, but mainly because I waited for a moment to find some space in an uncomfortable corner to watch some videos.
Of course Huyghe’s show is supposed to be work in progress. But I’m not living in Paris, so I probably miss a lot. Huyghe’s work doesn’t fit the Centre Pompidou. The contrast of the exhibition space and his oeuvre is not enriching but interfering.
Another thought: I would have appreciated the exhibition a lot more if there would have been some admission limits. If an artist works with performances I would like to be able to see and enjoy them. Especially when the performances are not meant to be random.

Although both Parreno’s and Huyghe’s exhibitions are impressive, Paris missed the chance of hosting the show of the year. Just imagine Huyghe’s dog straying through Palais de Tokyo. The artists have a long tradition of collaborating. “No Ghost Just a Shell” (1999-2003) appears in Pompidou and Tokyo anyways and there is ice and other similarities in both. United at Palais de Tokyo they would have set up a mind-blowing exhibition. And in Pompidou they could have contrasted the Tokyo with a completely different set.

Next time!

You better pray, rat!

Recently I read “Traurige Therapeuten” by Ingomar von Kieseritzky (“Sad Shrinks”, not yet available in English) quite an animalistic book – a parade of neurotic pets meet an amateur therapist and some a taxidermist.


Today Carlo Amen popped up at Vitrine 5 and showed me some of his works.
Tatoodermia” caught my attention, tattooed cats behind prison bars, a tattooed goose and a praying rat. One might object that after Wim Delvoye tattooing animals is passé. And Banksy spraying rats everywhere.  But the animals of Carlo Amen are uncanny and brute (in both senses). Without pathos he demonstrates how we disrespect pets. We anthropomorphize them but treat them very immune at the same time. Of course rats endangered our species for centuries and still are. But they only show us our own vulnerability. So Carlo’s rat might pray for mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

“We are the gasoline of cities” – kopieren kuratieren with Einat Tuchman

Economic crisis is about to hit every country sooner or later. Cuts of budgets for culture endanger even well established and renown institutions. Not only economic crisis but also a political shift to the right puts the future of the arts in question.
Most artists live under precarious conditions already, subsidized only by very small funds. Only a few belong to the upper class, the “artistocracy”. In general the art system reproduces and even boosts the class society. But yet most artists seem to live in a bubble. They follow a highly individualistic ideology that leads to personal success rather than social collaboration. The inequality of the art system is growing due to an unfair distribution of resources.
The identity of a city is highly affected by it’s artist community. “We are the gasoline of cities” says Einat Tuchman and interprets this metaphor also in another way. Like the world will run out of this resource sooner or later also cities jeopardize to dry out one of their resources, the artists.

Einat Tuchman

Einat co-organizes “State of the Arts – solidarity and action” a “Work Symposium” to discuss some of the mentioned problematics at beursschouwburg on November 6th. (In our talk I mentioned comparable ‘movements’ of Berlin: Haben und Brauchen  and Netzwerk Projekträume )

Things to consider for a (un)certain future

Since we met not only to talk, but also to do “kopieren kuratieren” we decided to each select 5 objects for the other and do kind of a tarot oracle.

My choice for Einat (in regard of the symposium)

My choice for Einat

The gear wheels:
No matter the size and the capacity of the participants, they are linked. They all turn, also when only one is active.

The motor:
The source of energy brought in by all participants. But also a kind of an “übermotor”. It’s important to find a way to recharge the batteries of the participants if they are getting tired.

The motherboard:
All contributions should be collected, archived and organized functional and understandable. The motherboard is the brain of the symposium, reuniting the ideas of all participants.

The glass:
Transparency is very important. Amongst the participants and towards a public. There shouldn’t be hidden agendas and if there are, they should be communicated to avoid misunderstanding.

The Ink:
Not only I hope that the results of the symposium will be inked in the skin of the participants, politicians, cities etc. But I hope they will be copied around the world.

Einat’s choice for me (in regard of a possible future of my curatorial practice):

Einat's choice for me

The strap:
A frame to constantly play with. It’s mobile and flexible and interactive. You can change the shape from inside and outside.

The sponge:
You absorb, you squeeze. Things disappear and reappear. It’s also a symbol of gathering information, filling your tank and then produce.

The spring:
The spiral as a symbol for endlessness. But also the ability to playfully move. It can multiple energy. Compress it and it springs high.

The mirror stick:
We constantly project but don’t let the world project on us. How does the world curate me when I curate it?

The metal bar:
It’s your temple. It’s a mesh and a frame. A container with the possibility to merge in and out. It’s where your experience is. And it shows your accessibility.

An Archaic Thursday – Yodeling and Mobile Soil

Well, it was a bit as if she had brought some cheese to taste when Myriam Van Imschoot visited me at recyclart last Thursday. I couldn’t help but smile when she said that she researches on yodeling. Yodeling, of course, as a global phenomenon in a broad definition, as a technique of breaking the voice. “The loss of control of the voice is the ultimate symptom of fragility and vulnerability but in various cultures also the beginning of virtue” Myriam said.

Myriam Van Imschoot

Myriam talked about her “Yodel-Portraits”. She interviews people having a connection with yodeling and then stages them as live portraits. Van Imschoot hosts the evening as a “conférencier” (master of ceremonies). Although the guests talk about themselves, their speech is directed by Myriam. They are self-portraits and portraits at the same time, fiction and reality entwine.

Later, with other guests, I was talking about economic dependence and my desire for a partial independence. I was just telling them that in my childhood in working-class quarters it was common to own a little garden. I was just citing Candides famous words “we must cultivate our garden” when the door opened and Jean-François Paquay rolled in a container full of soil he cultivated. How exciting! Not only did we have a nice chat about the essence of soil but also it’s connection to art (see also Documenta13). Create. Cultivate. Curate. And yodel, if you like.

Jean-François Paquay