I forbindelse med sin udstilling Interior Design på D7, har den tyske kunstner og skribent Andreas Schlaegel skrevet en tekst om de tanker, der ligger bag, som jeg synes kunne være interessant at bringe i sin helhed. Teksten er Schlaegels refleksioner over emnet, og perspektiverer mere end forklarer selve udstillingen.
Schlaegel har omdannet D7 til en totalinstallation. En interimistisk labyrint med 14 individuelle celler (små udstillingsrum) som iscenesættelser af prospekter af Schlaegel’s værk og virke, sprogligt artikuleret gennem titler for de enkelte rum som f.eks. Suprematist Leanings (et stort maleri med fire røde firkanter), og Reflection Room (Dead End #1) hvori der er mulighed for at fordybe sig foran en række paranoide malerier monteret med sidespejle.
Det er en dannelsesrejse at vandre gennem Schlaegels verden, hvor der kommenteres humoristisk på samfundsstrukturer, selvforståelse og forventningsstrukturer i en ikke helt kronologisk rækkefølge. Titlen ’Interior Design’ spiller på idéen om, at der kan laves et design for den moderne eksistens. Med i installationen, i rummet Gallery of Young Hopefuls, finder vi fem unge danske kunststuderende, der studerer på forskellige kunstakademier rundt om i Europa, som måske repræsenterer samtidskunstens grænseløshed og håbet for fremtiden.
Labyrinten ender i Sophisticated Entertainment Room, hvor vi mødes af et stort maleri med fire tætstående, behårede bagdele, en slags stor medaljon med påskriften No 1, og en selvbetjeningsbar, som en dead end, hvorefter man igen skal gå tilbage gennem labyrinten og opleve det hele baglæns.
Udstillingen åbnede d. 15. september og var udvidet med jazz/punk-performanceprojektet Die!Landschaft (Manfred Peckl/Andreas Schlaegel, DE), som istemte samme humoristiske tone som den udstillingen oppebærer. Udstillingen er aktuel frem til d. 21. oktober 2017.
"A Caveat" by Andreas Schlaegel
The term „interior design“ may have a distinctive ring to it, especially in a Scandinavian context. But here it is used not to reflect on elegant furniture and home improvement, but rather on the design of something even more intimate, the furnishing or mental make-up of the self. Let’s first take a step back: what in this pamphlet appears as a rather disparate group of works, may be more poignant in the exhibition it shares its title with - there every work has its own compartment, like every work here has its own page. This strategy of compartmentalization is at the center of this project.
In psychology the word compartmentalization addresses an often subconscious defense mechanism, employed by the individual to „avoid cognitive dissonance or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves. Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement….“ (Wikipedia).
This publication spans unfinished works from the last fifteen years, only fairly recently brought to a close. Even if the individual works don’t contradict each other, they do reflect a wide and sometimes conflicting palette of the artist’s mindsets: sceptic, euphoric and prone to flights of fantasy, with inevitable crash landings (moments of depression) as much as self-delusional instances of grandeur…
In the exhibition the viewer sees the work while progressing though the succession of individual compartments, as a sequence of individually staged presentations. As viewers move from one partition to another and back, the social component of meeting inside the individual segments, that end up forming a labyrinth, but with no way out. This way you see the work twice (once for the way in, and for a second time on the way out), which creates the specific social and theatrical character of this exhibition.
The works also pick on the motif of reflection, such as paintings with attached rear-view mirrors. These add a notion of precariousness to the viewing experience, as if the act of seeing a painting required additional safeguarding. It probably does: seeing for yourself is never completely safe.
One could find the works in their individual partitions to be chapters of a larger narrative that plays out ideas of classic self-deceit and contemporary post-truth against the backdrop of the everyday life experience of an artist. The idea of independence of art and artist has contributed significantly to the latter becoming a role model for self-organized „content-producers“ in this late neoliberal society, with its constant focus on individual strength and self-improvement. It doesn’t help ideas of solidarity.
But what is the alternative? The „democratic sculptures“ consist nearly entirely of chewing gum – the artist only supplies a small impromptu support structure and plenty of chewing gum, and leaves it to the audience to shape the work. While it is easy to enjoy the free gum, it literally becomes a sticky (and surprisingly sensual) subject to publicly stick your gum to the other gums already on the structure, often still soft and with traces of saliva. Form is the actual challenge this piece presents, even if the process follows the classic sculptural technique. Without a vision the work of many ends up as merely a grungy lump of chewed gum - or is it a sculpture?
The absurdist humor of the works presented here only thinly veils a more serious concern at the basis of this artistic endeavor: the effect of the irrationalist turn in global politics on the individual. It can hardly be disputed that a decade of post-truth politics have left a mark on everybody. The populist tactic of dominating the discourse by appealing entirely to emotions, to control public political discourse, encourages a well-established psychological pattern: a prevailing willingness for self-deception.
A century of „scientific management“ or Taylorism focussing on increasing productivity by avoiding everything seemingly superfluous, has successfully reframed populaces as individual prosumers. Today, social networks, operated with personal devices, has produced filter-bubble compartments, thereby contributing to making the manipulation of the rationalization process so effective, that everyone is now staging themselves as their own optimized versions, factually producing individual post-truths.
By definition self-deceivers intentionally convince themselves to hold a belief they know to be false. This process of „rationalization“, of twisting reality to compliment an existing mindset, rather than understanding an existing reality, is influenced by personal biasses, fear, socialization and cognitive repression. That these powerful emotions can be exploited so successfully, require to scrutinize the design, if not very nature of the „self“ itself.
Psychology suggests that knowledge of the intention to self-deceive renders the attempt ineffective. Unfortunately the work on display here won’t help with this. Rather, when the artist revisited pieces begun in different times, it was by surrendering to the superfluous, the wayward and absurd, that enabled him to finish the work, and be it only in snippets, trinkets, models - and unpredictable personal encounters. For these artworks to eventually become components of interior designs themselves, they need to give pleasure, not to deceive, but to convince.
Andreas Schlaegel / Interior Design
Featuring(among others): finished (formerly unfinished) business, mental make-up, fits of (self-)delusion, flights (and crash-landings) of fancy, (de-)compartmentalization(s) & (con)tribu(la)tions by Ida Brockmann, Emilie Viktoria Kjær, Jos Nyreen, Adele Marie Rannes and Anna Roy Winder.
Melou Vangaard (f. 1967) er billedkunstner og kurator, uddannet fra Det Kongelig Danske Kunstakademi i 2003. Hun bor og arbejder i København og driver udstillingsstedet D7. Melou har bidraget til idoart.dk siden 2017.