As I moved around the art, the art moved me..
Kunst im Tunnel (KIT) is one of Düsseldorf’s most original museum spaces. It is literally part of a tunnel, a little odd-shaped piece of concrete left over above the actual tube and beyond a beautiful riverside walk along the Rhine river. It is very low at one end and very narrow at the other, and between the two ends, it is shaped like banana, or rather a banana box. The place is worth a visit in itself.
Tau, on he other hand, is the German word for both dew and a rope. It was chosen as a title for the collective exhibition of a class of Düsseldorf’s academy of the fine arts. The leaflet explains that no single work is ascribed to a single artist, thus drawing a parallel to both dew and a rope which are both constituted by smaller elements (the droplets, the single threads).
As a way of exhibiting art, this seems to be halfway between the art school exhibition I showed before and the museum I plan to take you to in some upcoming posts.
Let me just add that being there with a permit to photograph, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
After visiting a students’ exhibition at an Art School (Kunsthochschule) in Mainz, KIT – TAU took us to a public exhibition space in Düsseldorf. The works shown in KIT were made by art students from Katharina Grosse’s class. Grosse will have her work exhibited here in Wiesbaden in the late summer. The art world is a small world.
Museum Wiesbaden will be featured soon, so that this series proceeds from the atelier to a formal museum in three steps.
The general idea of this series: “Challenge yourself, not by attempting to capture the artwork itself, but your experience of it” (Johan Idema, How To Visit a Museum. Tips for a Truly Awarding Visit. Amsterdam: BIS, 2014). This project is, indeed, intended as a challenge. So you are very welcome to participate. Details can be found here. | This is also my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange.
Seeing artworks in the ateliers they were made in is fascinating. The air at the Kunsthochschule (Art School) is heavy with paint and solvents; paint buckets, brushes and easels have been stowed away in a hurry; students seem to be compensating for last night’s lack of sleep rather than guarding the art and asking questions. Some smile (encouragingly?) when the see me making pictures.
Visiting the academy and getting a glimpse of the actual work environment is quite different from going to a museum. But does it help in understanding the works?
If you study hermeneutics (the art and science of understanding), you’ll find the idea that to understand the artist, you need to understand the circumstances under which he or she worked. While I doubt I always want to understand the artist – understanding art is tough enough – visiting an atelier lets me see the works in a ‘fresher’ or even ‘hotter’ state than any other environment (hypothesis: museums are for cooling art down to a more palpable temperature). And since understanding a work of art might as well be non-verbal, digesting it at its freshest might indeed help us understand.
Not to mention the fact that the physical access to the works seems to be way more direct. No one tells you to step back; you can wear your oldest trousers and roll on the floor to get the best point of view if you like. If art is a game, here is an invitation to play with it.
Speaking of invitations: This is part of this year’s third project in which you can participate: The idea is to (playfully) understand art through photography; details can be found on this page.
Sometimes even the most dubious characters in a mystery novel have a lot to say. In Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Underground, an artist speaks his mind: “There’s no point asking what a piece of work means, you know? If we could express it in words, do you think we would have spent all that time bisecting a cow or pickling a shark? Do you think bisecting a cow is somebody’s idea of a fun fucking afternoon? And then to have stupid people come up to you and say, ‘It’s very interesting, but is it art?’ – yes, it’s fucking art. Do you think I’m planning to eat the fecking thing?” (p. 285)
I kind of like the reasoning here: Art can be defined by the use we make of it. And it is hard to talk about. So why not try to understand it non-verbally? That’s what my March/April project is about. You can participate! Details can be found here and on the ‘2015 Projects’ pages.
Making pictures helps me understand history and memory as well as architecture or nature or the aesthetics of a movie. In contrast to scientific understanding, I would like to call the insight I find using photographs aesthetic understanding. The goal may well be beyond language.
Now this idea seems to be supported by a rather new book about visiting museums. Among other things, the author suggests we make photos of the works we see: “Taking pictures is also a way of connecting to and participating in the art, as it unleashes our excitement and involvement. Taking a clever picture can lead to more meaningful interaction with art. […] Challenge yourself, not by attempting to capture the artwork itself, but your experience of it.” (Johan Idema, How To Visit a Museum. Tips for a Truly Awarding Visit. Amsterdam: BIS, 2014)
For this month’s project, the challenge is to make clever photos of a work of art, capturing your experience of it. If the museums you visit are too restrictive about photographing the exhibits, try to find an artwork that is displayed in public – I am sure there will be plenty of them once you start looking.
Since the projects I have in mind for this year are not simple, I decided to switch to a bi-monthly rhythm, giving us all more time to come up with ideas (or time to post more pictures).
The pictures in this post were taken at an art school where I happened to visit a students’ exhibition a couple of weeks ago. The works were on display in the studios, giving the exhibition an atmosphere of authenticity and immediacy, making the visitors part of it all.