July 4, 2014 - Kunsthalle Mainz - Ed Atkins & Bruce Nauman
July 4, 2014

Ed Atkins & Bruce Nauman

Top: Ed Atkins, Even Pricks (still), 2013. Courtesy the artist; Cabinet Gallery, London and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin. Bottom: Bruce Nauman, Studies for Hologram, 1970. Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

Ed Atkins & Bruce Nauman
July 4–September 28, 2014

Opening: Thursday, July 3, 7pm

Kunsthalle Mainz
Am Zollhafen 3-5
55118 Mainz
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm,
Wednesday 10am–9pm,
Saturday–Sunday 11am–6pm

T + 49 6131/12 69 36
F + 49 6131/12 69 37
mail [​at​] kunsthalle-mainz.de


The Kunsthalle Mainz is proud to present Ed Atkins & Bruce Nauman

Ed Atkins and Bruce Nauman are artists from different generations; however they share a common goal: to understand human existence in the media age.

Ed Atkins
The British artist Ed Atkins, born in London in 1982, has become a shooting star of the international art scene. This year, his work will also be seen at the Kunsthalle Zurich, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. At the core of Ed Atkins’s work is the “digital divide,” and the shift of bodily experience in the age of digitalization. The artist considers HD technology to be a deathlike instrument. The medium intensifies the visibility of the filmed subject, creating an image that prioritizes its own representation over other means of communication, such as language or the emotions. At the core of his artistic approach are the examination of the body, questions of existence, and the confinement of human expression. Atkins creates installations that include collages, drawings, and other media. However, his favorite medium is the video, with which he deploys a contrast between bodily experience and artificial mimetic representation. 

Recently, Atkins has dug deeper into the realm of language. His book, A Seer Reader, was published a couple of weeks ago by Koenig Books, London. Consequently, the focus of his work on view at the Kunsthalle Mainz is language and literary comprehension. Atkins has previously used fragments of texts that run underneath the images on the bottom edge of the projection. Now, the text seems to have become emancipated, accompanied by interwoven miniature drawings. For his videos, the artist creates particular sound environments—the sound is never a pure attachment or a decorative accessory. In Atkins’s body of work, the soundtrack ties together different visual sources, as was experienced in his most recent installation in Zurich, where the visitor cruised around different staged elements. Sound never leaves; it swells, comparable to commercial cinema, escalating towards dramatic presence and power. The mingling of sound and images provokes unsettling effects. The sound rises abruptly and unexpectedly, joined by sudden fortissimo strokes and augmenting crescendos, almost always in a shocking, psychedelic style. Unpredictability, drama, and energy are significant. Despite their synthetic structure, these compositions are very expressive. Their subject is identical to the primary questions of human existence: loss of the world, isolation, pain, alienation, death.  

Bruce Nauman
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1941, Bruce Nauman is considered one of the most influential artists of the postwar period. His work has been included in documenta (1968, 1972, 1977, 1992), the Whitney Biennial (1977, 1985, 1987, 1991, and 1997), and the Venice Biennale (1978, 1980, 1999, 2005, and 2007). His practice spans a broad range of media, including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico.

A human figure is cut out of cardboard. Legs, arms, and head point in different directions. The silhouette-sculpture is suspended from the ceiling, where it floats mutely, triggering troubled feelings. It is a deathlike remnant, albeit one that moves slightly. As with the work of Ed Atkins, the parts of the body can be interpreted as an allegory for humanity. It is of the body and at the same time a substitute for its totality. The head is the location of the senses—directing our vision, bringing us close in order to touch, using hearing to register both the sounds within the space and those penetrating from outside. Nauman uses them all, exposing the senses in order to visualize their alienating effects and disquieting experiences. The cut-out figure is distinguished by its anonymity. It represents neither a real person nor a portrait. As with Atkins’s digital illusions, Nauman’s body parts are replicable stereotypes, present in a tangible, brute corporeality. 

Apart from the sculptural work, Nauman’s restless exploration of different media reflects a continual questioning and reinvention of his artistic practice. Sound and video has always been important to this practice, sometimes as pure audio works, sometimes incorporated as an element in films such as large-scale projections or monitor presentations. Since the 1960s, he has been one of the pioneers of video art, launching a series of groundbreaking videos in which he filmed himself in his studio performing various simple, often absurd, tasks. Very often he applies a form of compulsive repetition of language and texts. In Raw Material with Continuous Shift—Brrr (1990), he hums a repeated text, thus revealing extremes of expression, the confinement of self-control, and the dead-end of language. Images of the artist can be seen on stacked monitors, while a similar image is projected on the adjacent wall.  The videos are played non-synchronously and the image on one is reversed. The artist’s head revolves as a commentary on the precondition of life and expression, contrasting the linear types of common communication, such as language, phrase, and syntax. 

The exhibition takes the form of a double presentation, a configuration that the Kunsthalle Mainz has employed successfully in the past, mounting shows that have included pairs of internationally renowned artists such as Roman Signer & Attila Csörgő, Danh Vo & Thomas Schütte, and Monica Bonvicini & Sterling Ruby. The resultant contrasting of positions enables the contributing artists to engage in an intensified competition with their counterparts. The processes of creation and installation lead to various encounters, which offer incentives for theoretical and discursive comparisons, as well as sensory experiences.

Curated by Thomas D. Trummer

The first major publication on Ed Atkins’s work attends the exhibition. The book is published in the Kunsthalle Zurich series in collaboration with the Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, and the Kunsthalle Mainz. It is available at JRP-Ringier ISBN: 978-3-03764-359-4.

Fade into You – A series of film screenings
View, drink and discuss

Wednesdays, 7pm 
July 16, episode XXVIII: Francis Alÿs: Re-Enactments, 2000, 5:20 min
August 6, episode XXIX: Guy Maddin: Send me to the ‘Lectric Chair, 2009, 7:12 min / Sissy-Boy Slap-Party, 1995, 6:18 min
August 27, episode XXX: Sofia Hultén: Grey Area. 12 Attempts to hide in an office environment, 2001, 9 min September 17, episode XXXI: Ulu Braun: Forst, 2013, 10:45 min / Birds, 2014, 15:00 min
October 8, episode XXXII: R. M. Naeem: Multibility, 2013, 3:33 min / 6th May 2013 (Father’s Day), 2013, 7:48 min

Kunsthalle Mainz
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