December 17, 2013 - Museum Folkwang - Douglas Gordon and Taryn Simon
December 17, 2013

Douglas Gordon and Taryn Simon

Left: Douglas Gordon, Out of the Water. C-type print. From the series “Everything Is Nothing without Its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomime,” 2013. Courtesy Studio lost but found, Berlin. © Studio lost but found/ VG-Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013. Right: Taryn Simon, from A Living Man Declared Dead And Other Chapters, I–XVIII, 2008–11. C-print. © Taryn Simon.

Douglas Gordon
Everything is Nothing without Its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomime
30 November 2013–2 March 2014

Taryn Simon
There Are Some Who Are in Darkness
Works from the Olbricht Collection, selected by the artist
9 November 2013–2 March 2014

Museum Folkwang
Museumsplatz 1
D – 45128 Essen
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm, 
Friday 10am–10:30pm (2014: Friday 10am–10pm)

T + 49 201 8845 000 

Douglas Gordon
Everything is Nothing without Its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomime

At Museum Folkwang, Essen Scottish artist Douglas Gordon is setting up a fascinating cabinet of pictures consisting of 180 photographs. On show for the first time in Germany, Douglas Gordon’s work Everything is Nothing without Its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomime (2013) offers a very intimate view of his life, a view which Gordon is now sharing with the visitors in Essen. 

A sea of blossoms, the leaves on a tree, an empty flat, a plate with a prawn kebab, friends at a party, a newborn child, a child at play, a child with a mask, the whole panoply of life is revealed before our very eyes. In amongst it a finger covered with gold paint, a magic finger, the artist’s hand? The artist places 180 framed photographs on the walls of a room at Museum Folkwang.

After a while, many of the pictures in this cabinet of pictures merge with our own memories. In between them, the image of the viewer, the image of another viewer or the image of the room. How so? Because 180 mirrors have been placed between the photographs. A room composed of images, past and current images, orchestrated by the viewer’s gaze which, in the process of looking and moving, becomes part of the work. Gordon enters in on a dialogue with the viewer. The artist, too, is a viewer, behind the camera, choosing his images. The artist’s portrait also crops up amongst the photographs, and next to it, our own reflections, then, in the adjacent frame, a skull—the circle of life. In Everything is Nothing Without its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomine life takes on the appearance of a play and we are right in the thick of it.

Taryn Simon
There Are Some Who Are in Darkness

Museum Folkwang, Essen is delighted to present, for the first time, a unique constellation of Taryn Simon’s main series The Innocents, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar and A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII

A line from Bertold Brecht’s song “Mack the Knife” sets the tone of Taryn Simon’s new exhibition. The show’s title illustrates a central theme in the work of the US artist—making visible what has previously been concealed. The exhibition, compiled by the artist herself from the outstanding holdings of the collector Thomas Olbricht, presents a first survey of her three key series supplemented by a first presentation of her censored exhibition in China.

It was her piece The Innocents (2002) that first shot the young photographer to international fame in the middle of the last decade. This series of portraits shows people who had been falsely convicted, at the scenes that are integral to their alleged crimes. Simon advanced these perspectives in the photographs that form the cycle An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2006/2007): Focusing on a wide range of different phenomena and incidents, this project reveals objects, sites, and spaces integral to America’s foundation, mythology, and daily functioning, yet inaccessible or unknown to the public. 

Her recent body of work A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters (2008–11), which has already been exhibited in some of the world’s major museums, associates the coincidental nature of human fate with the accompanying social determination as a result of politics and world history, origin and class. The result of global research, the comprehensive saga composed of 18 chapters, six of which will be on show in Essen, moreover paints a picture of the historical distortions and global interweaving of people’s destinies at the beginning of the 21st century. 

As such, she represents one of the most important positions of an expanded concept of a critical photographic and textual approach and presents an answer to Brecht’s famous accusation that this medium was unaware of the social conditions at work behind the obvious.

Museum Folkwang
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