“You do know it yourself: a home, a true home made of stone or brick, is like a tomb. Still, it is possible to live sometimes in a tent: but the best for us would be to sleep under the blue sky and stare at the stars ”.
(Abdallah of the Tuareg Kel Iforas of Ajjer)
Blue times, the exhibition launched this past October in the Kunsthalle in Vienna is a visual game, an artistic, sociological, historical experiment based on the color blue. But blue is nothing else but the pretext for an inquiry as it clearly states in the opening quotation:
“Facebook is blue; Earth is blue when viewed from outer space. Blue is the colour of Romanticism and of melancholy. Over 80 percent of the western population chooses blue as their favourite colour. Conservative parties prefer blue; Margret Thatcher’s blue outfits are legendary…”
The exhibition is polished, sophisticatedly complex and presents about forty pieces of art. After you cross the first staircase, Chris Kabel’s Blue Sky appears like nothing but a scrap or a cutting, perhaps an ironic leftover, in a perfect sort of dialogical conflict with the austerity of the room in which it is hosted. In the other main room we find Out of Blue by Lawrence Weiner and Color Lab, white neon study blue by Sylvie Fleury; perhaps as an obstacle, right in front of the main entrance, the critical and systematical dualism of Derek Sullivan offers an answer to the perfect geometry of Lilliam Gillick, whose mural hosts a blue monochrome by Yves Klein and Walter Svennen’s Super Blaue Reiter, in which the ambition of an illusionary epic and crystalized lyricism is non-rhetorical and therefore becomes extremely contemporary. Blue Chip by Billy Apple and his references to the economic and financial system blunt for just one second the enchanting atmosphere which surfaces, in a historical but still ambiguous and deliberately misleading way, in the works of Raed Yassin (China) and Walid Raad ( Secrets in the Open Sea). Fascinating and still deceptive is the outcome in [Title TK] by Pamela Rosenkranz, who appears very skilled in the way she employs the materials generating different tones of blue. Simon Denny together with Frankfurt Declaration Memorial Paels 2 ( Kempisky Gravenbuch), an extraordinary clinical work, questions globalization and the domain of the economy .
Blue Times is a powerful exhibition where the focus remains on the topic posed in its title. Yet it avoids being non authoritatively didactic and offers itself as an interpretative key not just as a message, but as a looking-glass – one might say – with the goal of obtaining knowledge. And the blue theme is not a vague jumble as too often happens; it offers instead the pretext for a sharp yet delightful dialogue. The Wunderkammer is the unexpected jewel: where historical, cultural, day-to-day objects are gathered and disposed near one another with impeccable taste; in this way, a small smurf statuette, a bunch of crayons and other objects, placed in a showcase, brilliantly relate with Jonathan Monk’s The World in Workwaer, which calls to mind Alghiero Boetti’s “maps”, though this time composed with working garments.
A true exhibition, Blue times; we might just dare say a work of art itself.
Vincenzo Della Corte
Curators: Amira Gad, Nicolaus Schafhausen
Artists: Saâdane Afif, Billy Apple, Nadia Belerique, Irma Blank, Edith Dekyndt, Simon Denny, Sylvie Fleury, Peter Friedl, Ryan Gander, Liam Gillick, Derek Jarman, Toril Johannessen, Chris Kabel, Tobias Kaspar, Yves Klein, Walt Kuhn, Edgar Leciejewski, Goshka Macuga, Jonathan Monk, Alex Morrison, Otto Neurath, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Prinz Gholam, Walid Raad, Mark Raidpere, De Rijke / De Rooij, Willem de Rooij, Pamela Rosenkranz, Julia Scher, Société Réaliste, Michael Staniak, Hito Steyerl, Derek Sullivan, Walter Swennen, Remco Torenbosch, Lidwien van de Ven, Lawrence Weiner, Raed Yassin