Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Collection as Aleph
Curators: Adam Budak, Kunsthaus Graz
Daniela Zyman, Thyssen-Bornemisza
March 6 – October 26, 2008
Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm
Exhibition architecture: The nextENTERprise, Vienna
Kunsthaus Graz am
A comparative reading of the complex literary oeuvre of the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges lies at the point of departure for the exhibition Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph. Borges’s oeuvre and its conceptual as well as narrative landscape is used as a methodology to build up a sequence of potential narratives (and fictions), continued (as if) en abîme in a collective archive of visual imaginary, based upon the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary collection. Within this labyrinthine context, the collection takes on a mode of one of the most enigmatic Borges’s symbols, Aleph – the point that includes all the times and all the spaces of the universe, an abstract and at the same time concrete sphere where they are contained. It cannot be grasped through “normal” perception because it encloses infinity but anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion. As such, the collection is a Model, a primary Structure, unfolded into infinity, in a circular choreography of fiction and reality.
The exhibition considers Borges’s favourite stylistic trope, structure en abîme as a spatial metaphor and rhizomatic device: here, the structural (and symbolic) endlessness of Kunsthaus Graz’s architecture connects with an attempt to (mentally) navigate through temporal and spatial layers of T-B A21 Collection. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph is organized within the sequence of potential structures and possible fictions: from the issues concerned with the principles of identity and meanders of authorship through paradoxes of language and space-time confluences down to conjunctions of universe and utopia, reality and fiction, mirror and encyclopaedia… It consists of three narrative chapters – themselves subdivided in multiple re-arrangements – dramatized within an architectural setting developed by Vienna-based architectural office, the nextENTERprise (Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and Ernst J. Fuchs). The exhibition architecture, supported by a “cosmic pantomime” of mirrors, spatialises the exhibition gallery as an inversed horizon, reinforcing both endlessness and simultaneity by means of displacement and fractal vision and activating the powers of memory and imagination, embedded at the very core of the Aleph.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph offers a kaleidoscope of knowledge unfolded in an array of visual representations of reality on the edge of its ontological doubt where fiction and fantasy conspire with scientific research and mathematical exactitude in order to construct a parallel reality of imagination. Paradoxes of infinity, spatial fantasies, identity’s disorders and mythological translations are the main motives of the exhibition’s first chapter, whereas inner worlds, imaginary creatures, utopian visions and alternative images of society build up a narrative thread of the second chapter. Such Borgesian “conjunction of mirror and encyclopedia” is concluded by a following sequence where the attempts at conquering the reality and tracing the paths of a labyrinth of mind are undertaken.
Participating artists: Haluk Akakçe, Fiona Banner, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Douglas Gordon, Florian Hecker, Carsten Höller, Jim Lambie, Los Carpinteros, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Jason Rhoades, Catherine Sullivan, Heimo Zobernig, Darren Almond, Tiago Carneiro da Cunha, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Iran do Espírito Santo, Isa Genzken, Jón Laxdal, Ernesto Neto, Rivane Neuenschwander & Cao Guimarães, Olaf Nicolai, Do-Ho Suh, Thomas Struth, Kutlug Ataman, Monica Bonvicini, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Cerith Wyn Evans, Mathilde ter Heijne, Roger Hiorns, Ján Mancuska, Sarah Morris, Olaf Nicolai, Raqs Media Collective, Matthew Ritchie, Thomas Ruff, Hans Schabus, Salla Tykkä.
Founded in Vienna in 2002 by Francesca von Habsburg, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary represents the fourth generation of the Thyssen family’s dedication to the arts. The foundation is committed to supporting the production of contemporary art and actively engaged in commissioning and disseminating unconventional projects that promote research-based, context- and site-specific, performative artistic practices, often informed by an interest in social aesthetics. Exhibitions based upon the foundation’s collection are regularly presented to the public. Collaborations have also been a focus of the foundation’s work, amongst others, with the New York Public Art Fund, Art Angel, Venice Biennale, documenta, Wiener Festwochen and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Magazin.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph is the first large-scale museum presentation of the foundation’s holdings and the starting point for an international tour travelling to selected venues in Europe, Asia and the USA.
The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of events:
Wednesday, March 5
3pm: Aleph – Paradoxes of Collecting. Francesca von Habsburg in conversation with Peter Pakesch, Space04
4pm: Tracing Aleph. Artists of the exhibition in conversation with the curators Daniela Zyman and Adam Budak, Space04
7pm: Exhibition opening, Space02
10pm: NAKED LUNCH, Dom im Berg/Concert
Special Guest DJs Jim Lambie & Florian Hecker
Tuesday, March 18/7pm, Space04/Lecture
The next ENTERprise – architects (Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and Ernst J. Fuchs):
Tuesday, April 15/7pm, Space04/Film screening Jorge Luis Borges
Performance (1970, dir. by Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell)
Profile of a Writer, Vol. 7: Jorge Luis Borges (1983)
May 16–18/Space04/Symposium Jorge Luis Borges
Tuesday, June 3/7pm, Space04/Film screening Jorge Luis Borges
Cuentos de Borges I (1991, dir. by Héctor Olivera, Gerardo Vera)
Los libros y las noches (1999, dir. by Tristán Bauer)
Collection as Aleph
The exhibition is generously supported by Wiener Städtische Vienna Insurance Group