HellYeahWeFuckDie, 2017, Skulptur Projekte 2017
Hito Steyerl’s films, installations, and writings come out of a systemic way of thinking and working, in which artistic production and the theoretical analysis of global social issues are closely linked. Steyerl investigates the interaction and synthesis of technological and artistic imagery, for example, at the level of visual mass culture—and its function within the overall dispositif of technocracy, monetary policy, the abuse of power, and violence. Her lecture Is the Museum a Battlefield? at the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013) took as its theme the question of how artists and the art industry are involved in this network. Martin Lockheed, the sponsor of her film about the death of her friend Andrea Wolf (November, 2004) is himself a manufacturer of guns and ammunition—and of the bullet that killed Andrea Wolf in 1998 while she was fighting for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The location Steyerl chose for her installation is the Westdeutsche Landesbausparkasse (LBS savings bank) with its futuristic technocratic architectural style. It was built in 1975 at the northern end of the old zoo by the banker Ludwig Poullain. In what used to be the cashier’s hall and lobby there are kinetic works by Heinz Mack, Günther Uecker, Otto Piene, etc., from the LBS collection, which has been made accessible to the public again within the framework of Münster’s Skulptur Projekte. Steyerl has installed tubular steel barriers and corrugated steel partitions in the lobby of the modernistic building. Compiled audiovisual sequences can be seen on three monitors: documentary lab footage showing computer-simulated or actual physical force applied to humanoid robots to test their balance behaviour. The videos begin with the animation of a fragmented sentence: HELL YEAH WE FUCK DIE—which according to the online magazine Billboard are the most frequently used five words in the English language music charts of the past decade. They provide the basis for the musical compositions and also appear in neon lettering encased in concrete. In the smaller cashier’s room in the back there is a further installation with the same elements and an additional video: footage from south-eastern Turkey of the Kurdish town of Cizre on the Syrian border, which now resembles a ghost town following numerous skirmishes of escalating intensity between the government and the PKK. It is the native town of the Arabic writer and engineer Al-Jazari, who wrote a book about mechanical apparatuses in 1205 to convey knowledge about ingenious devices, a work known as Automata in Western culture. Steyerl combines the pictures of the town with questions addressed to SIRI, the software installed on the mobile phone: What role does computer technology play in war?
Provisional Studies: Workshop #7 How to Live Together and Sharing the Unknown 2017, Skulptur Projekte 2017
Since Fukushima, if not before, Koki Tanaka’s (1975 Tochigi; lives in Kyoto) art has been centred around crises and the temporary communities that they produce. Tanaka brings people together in unaccustomed situations that are often unsettling. In these unusual collective moments, he tests the possibility of defying existing routines. The documentary footage that was produced in these situations and workshops serves in various forms as the basis for his multichannel video installations. For Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, Tanaka asked eight residents of Münster from various generations and different cultural backgrounds to participate in workshops for ten days. Based on Roland Barthes’s book of the same title, the central question was, how to live together? Tanaka invited contributions from ‘facilitators’ acting as temporary guests and sources of inspiration. A total of eleven video sequences document things such as the night spent together on mats in the gymnasium, cooking a wartime recipe, the interview and shoot with a globalization expert from Syria, and physical exercises in an old nuclear bunker. The camera crew was also told to capture all the breaks and interruptions. So we witness moments of exhaustion as well as the moments when stereotypical roles and argument patterns are initiated or set off. And we also see moments of irritation or displeasure. From the very beginning, the presence of a film crew transforms the participants into subjects in front of the camera and, as such, into a designated, temporary, and defined group of performers. During the shoot, Tanaka sees himself as the viewer and leaves it up to the participants to guide the process, including the decision to stop an exercise. Like the everyday objects in the workshop, the artist’s notes are an important part of the work and are designed as independent publications. The contextual starting point of Provisional Studies: How to Live Together? was also the location where it took place: the Aegidiimarkt complex across from the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur. Built in the late 1970s, the building incorporates space for living, shopping, work, and leisure. Next to the adult education centre there is a car park for the section of the building frequented most by the public. It was erected during the Cold War and until 2015 designated as a WMD shelter which could house three thousand people in the event of an emergency. Researching the history of the place, we discover how various communities gathered or lived together there: prior to 1819, there was a monastery on the same site that had been used as a military barracks since 1830. After being destroyed in World War II, the property remained vacant for quite some time. The lines of sight that visitors are offered from the standpoint of the installation are directly connected to the Aegidiimarkt across from it.
Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster, Skulptur Projekte 2017
Ei Arakawa’s (1977 Fukushima; lives in New York) art is mostly performative and includes everyday objects, works of art, and people as his actors, as it were, with each accorded an equal footing. Sound and music play an important role in his installations and performances, as he draws on the artistic strategies of the Gutai group and Fluxus. For Skulptur Projekte 2017, Arakawa has staged a light and sound show on the south-western end of Lake Aa. He has personally grouped seven pixelated LED panels he assembled himself on the grassy space. Paintings by Jutta Koether, Amy Sillman, Nikolas Gambaroff, Gustave Courbet, Joan Mitchell, Atsuko Tanaka, and Reena Spaulings serve as source material for these panels. Situated adjacent to Haus Kump—one of the oldest settlements in Münster and the seat of the Academy of Design and Crafts under the aegis of the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades—these illuminated pictures accompanied by sound are arranged like an audiovisual choir in the landscape. As is often the case in Arakawa’s work, painting is endowed with a performative potential.
Speak to the Earth and It Will Tell You (2007–2017)[Sprich zur Erde, sie wird es dir sagen (2007–2017)], 2017, Skulptur Projekte 2017
Jeremy Deller (1966 London; lives in London) is intrigued by the phenomena of pop and folk culture and explores their creative potential and aesthetic diversity in numerous participatory, process-oriented works. He has a particular interest in group-basedproductions of events that can take a variety of forms, such as a municipal parade, a concert, an exhibition, or the re-enactment of a strike-related confrontation. His contribution to Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 is based on a long-term scientific and cultural anthropological study, which the artist initiated for Skulptur Projekte 2007 and carried out in collaboration with Münster’s allotment garden clubs . He contacted over fifty such clubs asking them to keep a nature diary for the next ten years and record botanical and climatic data. In addition, he suggested that they use the diary as a chronicle of local club activities as well as social and political events. The book’s form and weighting of the content were left to the discretion of the individual clubs. Dove trees, which take ten years to blossom, were planted as a visualization of the time span.
Pierre Huyghe, After ALife Ahead, 2017, Skulptur Projekte 2017
Pierre Huyghe’s (1962 Paris; lives in New York) works often present themselves as complex systems characterized by a wide range of life forms, inanimate things, and technologies. His arranged organisms combine not only biological, technological, and fictional elements, they also produce an environment for humans, animals, and non-beings to evolve in no matter what, like microscopic unicellular organisms or viruses. Huyghe’s constructed situations are reminiscent of biospheres, where other laws apply than in nature: structural parameters for changes as well as phenomena like swarm behaviour and cluster development are used, but, in the end—as with any other artistic material—these prove to be the final limits of the will to make new possibilities happen.For Münster’s Skulptur Projekte 2017, Huyghe has developed a time-based bio-technical system in a former ice rink that closed in 2016. This involved bio- and media-technological interventions and required extensive architectural de- and reconstruction. All the processes taking place within the very large hall are mutually interdependent: some of them are determined by the HeLa cell line, in a constant process of division in an incubator. Among its various effects, the cells’ growth triggers the emergence of augmented reality shapes. Variations in a Conus textile pattern change the spatial configuration: for example, the opening and shutting of a pyramid-shaped window in the ceiling of the hall. By digging into the earth, Huyghe transforms the ground into a low-level hilly landscape. In some spots, concrete and earth, layers of clay, styrofoam, gravel debris, and Ice Age sand are found as far as a few metres underground, interspersed with leftover surfaces. This space is inhabited, for instance, by algae, bacteria, beehives, and chimera peacocks. Biological life, real and symbolic architecture and landscapes, visible and invisible processes, and static and dynamic states are all fused into a precarious symbiosis.