Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
22 June - 15 July 2012
Reviewed by: Karst Projects »
KONSORTIUM / LARS BREUER, SEBASTIAN FREYTAG, GUIDO MÜNCH
June 22-July 15, 2012
For its inaugural exhibition, KARST proudly presents the UK Debut Show of German-based collective KONSORTIUM. In this exhibition the three artists have designed a site-specific engagement within the unique architecture. Originally the site of a chapel, 22 George Place was bombed during the war and consequently this industrial space was constructed. Newly adapted as a contemporary art venue, KARST’s decision to invite ‘spaceinvader’ to begin the proceedings is a playful gesture intended to reactivate the narrative of the building.
Spaceinvader is a metaphor for a travelling artist, who can intervene artistically in diverse situations, spaces and systems, and can ‘invade’ and occupy any location. Although practising independently as artists, as KONSORTIUM they work to produce enveloping environments in essence of the German term gesamtkunstwerk; ‘an entire work’.
An introduction to the show is a print depicting the iconic spaceship from Star Wars parked on the vast forecourt of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. Demonstrating the principal techniques KONSORTIUM apply to their work, it combines unlikely elements from the past and ‘future’ to form new content. Now derelict, Templehof was the most important airport in wartime Germany; the hollow architecture functions only as a reminder to ruinous ideologies. Superimposed against this however, is the Star Destroyer which continues to inspire archetypal fantasies of the future. These two disparate entities collide to invent new dystopian narratives which toy with the potency of their individual legacies.
The artists have covered the walls of KARST’s cavernous space with large multifaceted pieces. Using a customised typeface, Lars Breuer’s wall painting quotes Beelzebub’s initial greeting to Satan, from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. "O how fall'n! how chang'd" is his utterance as the two fallen angels are reunited in hell. The engulfing words are intended to oscillate between both their monumental connotations and the rhythmic abstract qualities of their design.
Instead of words, Guido Münch exploits familiar logos and signs to discuss both their inherent meaning and formal aesthetics. In this case, two paintings, which appropriate the radiation warning and fallout shelter symbols, are hung over a monochrome grey wall, collectively forming an installation. As the artist points out however, initial associations are always refutable. For him, the former emblem is significant for its use on a Kraftwerk record sleeve, and the latter for its appearance in the film Resident Evil.
In contrast to the attention Münch focuses on the centre of the wall, and the continuous flow of Breuer’s design, Sebastian Freytag has multiplied images to form an expansive aesthetic structure. Covering two walls is a pattern of repeating posters, featuring a black and white photograph capturing the scene of the Deepwater Horizon disaster – the oil platform at the epicentre of the BP disaster. This potent image shows the rig sinking 36 hours after a deadly explosion triggered an inextinguishable firestorm. In this piece, the story of a colossal industrial failure, equal to many of the world’s worst natural disasters, is reinstated as a monotonously hypnotic wall adornment.
Located centrally amongst the pillars are three sculptures which look and function as architectural models. They playfully refer to André Malraux’s concept of the Musée Imaginaire; the mid-twentieth century theory that everybody carries an idea of their own ideal art museum collection. Malraux also believed however, that as well as individual differences in the content of an ‘imaginary museum‘, there tend to be large areas of agreement. Each of the artists has developed a replica of their fantasy exhibition, containing some of their own works curated amongst pieces by other artists they particularly admire. The sculptures can be therefore viewed as both models for a potential exhibition, and as independent miniature shows.
Within KARST’s industrial space, the integration of architectural models, photographs, signs and typography, all delivered with a graphic minimalist aesthetic, forms an encapsulating ‘neo-modernist’ environment. The key to this exhibition is heterogeneity; the clashing and forging of diverse contrasting elements. As a gesamtkunstwerk the potent individual narratives collapse; history and meaning is kaleidoscopically rearranged. Ultimately however, KONSORTIUM request “the hush of interpretation so that the whole can become greater than the sum of its parts”.
KONSORTIUM was founded in 2004 as an artist-space in Düsseldorf. The current members are Lars Breuer (b. 1974, lives in Cologne), Sebastian Freytag (b.1978, lives in Düsseldorf) and Guido Münch (b.1966, lives in Düsseldorf). Recent exhibitions include; Overground Underground, 2010, Pori Art Museum and Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, Mastercopy, 2009 Wilhelm-Hack Museum Ludwigshafen, and Vertrautes Terrain / Resonanzraum 3, 2008, ZKM / Museum Neue Kunst Karlsruhe. Konsortium have also curated several group exhibitions including Gold, 2009, Syndey College of the Arts and Secondary Structures, 2007, KIT / Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.
Martin Bochynek: Rererence’ N ’Roll, 2007:
“Konsortium […] share an exceptional ability to deal with the metier; its achievements, its errors and the failure of the artistic avant-garde with its references. We know: everything has been said, everything has been invented, there were once geniuses and the only sensible thing to do now is to ply radical constructivism with historical consciousness. In spite of everything: “We are fans of abstract, reductionist, rejectionist pictorial language. We are enthusiasts of the hybris of the Modern, we are exegetes of the blank canvas!” This was Sebastian Freytag’s clear commitment in his manifesto-like opening speech for the exhibition Secondary Structures in Düsseldorf (2007), as if he expected antipathy, juicy controversies and heated debates.”
For more information visit www.konsortium-de.com
A review by Simon Bayliss on Konsortium | SpaceInvader
“O how fall’n! how chang’d” bellows Beelzebub as he reunites with Satan in Hell. This quote from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, features here as a stark ketchup-red wall painting by Lars Breuer; the basic italic typeface rhythmically traverses the entire length of KARST’s gallery. Beelzebub’s outcry might be echoed if those who witnessed the wartime destruction of the Chapel at 22 George Place, could see the site’s transformation into an industrial unit recently adapted as a cutting-edge art venue.
The KARST team’s decision to invite German collective Konsortium to install an exhibition titled ‘Spaceinvader’, was a gesture intended to playfully draw attention to the building’s history. This inaugural show is set to reactivate the narrative of the place, and there is no better way than with undeniably bold proceedings; a visual and conceptual ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, designed specifically to engage with the unique interior architecture.
The striking characteristic of the exhibition for me, is how the potent references to worldly topics - which seem indiscriminately plucked from the torrent of historical resources - are harboured within a highly graphic minimalist aesthetic. Retro abstraction provides the visual milieu for radiation warning symbols painted by Guido Munch - these coexist beside walls Sebastian Freytag has relentlessly patterned with posters depicting the exploding BP oilrig.
Nestled amongst the concrete pillars, three dynamic architectural models refer to Malraux’s concept of the ‘Musée Imaginaire’. Each of the artists has designed their ideal art exhibition, curating their own work alongside hallowed historical figures such as Jacque-Louis David, Casper David- Friedrich, Anselm Keifer and Christopher Wool. Freytag described to me that although these models feature only the interior walls of a gallery, Konsortium also fantasise about designing entire buildings dedicated to their artistic vision.
This exhibition conveys some of Konsortium’s artistic megalomania; their métier is delivered with stark knowing precision. Consequently by granting the collective their debut UK show, KARST may be reflecting their own intrepid ambitions to become a leading contemporary art space. The team need to generate as much interest as they can to prevent the building’s scheduled demolition in five years. “O how fall’n! how chang’d” is therefore a dangerously portentous expression KARST flaunt fearlessly.
KARST is a new non-profit, artist-led, exhibition and project space in Plymouth. Due to open during summer 2012, the previously disused industrial space will function as a large exhibition venue for local, national and international artists through selected and guest-curated projects, with the aim to provide a framework to be more supportive and connected to national and international contemporary visual arts.
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