Stefan Tcherepnin / Peter Wächtler

Stefan Tcherepnin / Peter Wächtler

Kunsthalle Zürich

Stefan Tcherepnin, 2019.

August 30, 2019
Stefan Tcherepnin
Peter Wächtler
August 31–November 17, 2019
Kunsthalle Zürich
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zürich

­Stefan Tcherepnin
Honky Tonk Calamity >< Ms. Fortune on the Links

Stepping into this exhibition is like entering a brain in the process of thinking up a musical satire. The exhibition’s title already holds some clues: “honky-tonk” originally describes a noisy bar involving alcohol and live music, in other words, the type of establishment that is still popular to this day, particularly in the southern United States, and that often features country music. “Ms. Fortune,” plays on the phonetic ambivalence between “Miss Fortune” and “Misfortune.” “Link,” on the other hand, stands for the golf course as it originated on the Scottish coast where the sport has been played since the 17th century. The symbols “>” and “<” signify “larger than” and “smaller than” respectively. In the way they are used here they cancel each other out and therefore add up to “=.” Then again, they could be read to represent a mirroring, in other words: honky-tonk disaster = Lady Luck on the golf course. Or perhaps it is a play on the popular „grinning squinting face“ emoji as an expression of consent.

Stefan Tcherepnin, born in Boston in 1977, is a composer, musician, and visual artist. He is a fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts (in Music Composition, 2008–09) and regularly performs with a varying cast of musicians (with Real Rags, Beautiful Balance, Steit, PSST, Tsarz Carz, Real Gospel, and Existential Blowfish, among others). Tcherepnin’s NY-based band, Afuma (with Taketo Shimada) will release their debut album in September 2019 on Blank Forms Editions. His approach, his thinking, and his musical productions don’t eschew eclecticism: noise and techno are grist for the mill as is contemporary experimental music, such as, for example, that by Maryanne Amacher, or even country music—it’s all worth playing. The same is true for Tcherepnin’s artistic practice that often also develops collaboratively; he has worked with artists such as Richard Aldrich, Anne Imhof, Max Brand, and many more.

This openness and penchant for experimentation and the unknown also characterize Honky Tonk Calamity >< Ms. Fortune on the Links at Kunsthalle Zurich. The exhibition is simultaneously a bar, a club, and an immersive environment. On the occasion of the exhibition’s opening on August 30 Stefan Tcherepnin will perform together with Basel musician Yanik Soland and Berlin-based artist and musician Veit Laurent Kurz. In addition, the exhibition opening will see the launch of, not a catalogue, but the vinyl single Stefan Tcherepnin Sings with three new songs by the artist.

Thanks to Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich.

Peter Wächtler
Ad Astra

Peter Wächtler, born in Hannover, Germany, in 1979, lives and works in Berlin. He writes texts, produces films, draws, paints pictures, and makes sculptures and objects. The human figure is central to all of his work. It appears in various forms, attitudes, poses, and interactions, just as it does in real life. Peter Wächtler’s artwork betrays neither fear of figuration—nor any undue trust in it. Here, the figure is not, as so often, revered and exalted, but it is also not critiqued or satirized in endless grotesques. It is, quite simply, inescapable, and it strides or stumbles, it is being manipulated and defeated; it overestimates itself and yet cannot be overrated. This is just as tragic as it is comical, and it is this inner tension that Wächtler’s oeuvre devotes itself to. Yet the commitment to this uneasy balance of the tragicomic is easier announced than it is accomplished… or, for us as viewers, tolerated.

Today we find ourselves in an era where the human body has become the subject of passionate discussion—in debates around gender, identity politics, or with regard to artificial intelligence. In this context it may feel unsettling that Wächtler’s work, in a seemingly old-fashioned manner, renders homage to the human figure: that wretched thing on its existential journey into the unknown, lost between self-doubt, exaltation, and irony. Ah, yes, those were the times! Except that those times never existed. Fact is, that now and then Wächtler’s art plays with our emotions—when it attracts and then immediately withdraws again, as if it didn’t trust in anything, least of all itself. Or perhaps we are not approaching things from the right angle? Should we take a more distanced approach to this work? Rather than talking about “the human figure,” “stories,” or “atmosphere,” how about if we were to discuss “rhetoric,” “analysis,” or “metaphor” instead? For here we are confronted with a pictorial world that expertly manipulates language, that messes with presentation just as it does with artificiality—and then adds in a healthy dose of a kind of crotchety objectivity. Sure, superficially one could draw a connection between Wächtler’s work and German romanticism or the golden era of the Weimar Republic, or one could locate it in relationship to the output of an artist such as Otto Dix. But that would be relying on a stance of all-too-comfortable nostalgia. Because, more than perhaps immediately apparent, Wächtler’s artwork is committed to the contemporary moment, to its confusion, its wishes and uncertainties, which Wächtler pursues by way of exhausted motifs: For it is easier to recognize oneself in the past and its outmoded expressions. As such, Wächtler’s art consistently observes itself in the act of formation—ecstatically, incredulously, with abandon, and a sense of embarrassment.

Ad Astra, Peter Wächtler’s exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich, features a recently completed film, and three expansive sculptural works. He will release the volume Jolly Rogers (2019). It emerged in the context of the artist’s solo exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall at the beginning of 2019.

Thanks to the galleries dépendance, Brussels, Lars Friedrich, Berlin, Reena Spaulings, New York, and The Antonio Dalle Nogare Foundation, Bolzano

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Kunsthalle Zürich
August 30, 2019

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