May 28, 2013 - Swiss Institute - Reto Pulfer
May 28, 2013

Reto Pulfer

Reto Pulfer, Zustandseffekte, 2013. Ink on unbleached cotton with sewn bedsheets, raku ceramics, and painted crate. Courtesy the artist; Balice Hertling, Paris; and Hollybush Gardens, London.

Reto Pulfer
May 8–June 23, 2013

Swiss Institute
18 Wooster Street
New York
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 12–6pm
Subway / N / R / Q / 6 to Canal Street

Curated by Gianni Jetzer

The enigmatic body of work by Swiss artist Reto Pulfer (b. 1981, lives in Berlin) might be said to occur at the intersection of architectural space and performance. In his first solo exhibition in the United States, Pulfer suspends large swathes of hand-painted cloth from the ceiling structure, countering the architecture of Swiss Institute’s main gallery while exploring an ethereal environment.

Visitors enter into a mysterious sky-lit interior. The walls, enveloped in the unbleached cotton cloth, sway with movement, while dramatic pinpoints of swirling color are splayed out on the fabric-covered ceiling. This illuminated starry sky extends in a diagonal band from corner to corner across the space. The exhibition’s title, Zustandseffekte, roughly translated, means the effects of a phase of matter, referring to a contradictory process of both stagnation and transformation.

Pulfer innovates ancient rhetoric, deploying it as a compass for his temporary intervention. Drawing from the ancient Greek strategy of mnemonics, the artist translates thought patterns into three-dimensional form: secondhand bed sheets, Raku-ceramics, and the handmade crate in which the work is shipped are used as vocabulary. The method of combining loosely associated words is central to his practice. Often these language chains aid one in remembering what might be otherwise elusive details. Similarly, in the artists’ studio, the mental repetition of a phrase rhythmically guides the drawing on and sewing together of textiles. Contemplation of language is the pivot point between the fabric and its display.

Viewers are welcomed to an interior space that oscillates between reality and imagination. However, the language itself remains concealed from the viewer, much in the same way the architecture of the gallery is veiled by the diaphanous installation.  One is left to explore the temporary and transparent room, tacitly experiencing an uncertain state that mingles mnemonic, performance, production, and installation. The results are grasped yet their cause remains elusive, just out of reach.

Reto Pulfer has exhibited at Kunstverein Nürnberg, Germany (2013); Künstlerhaus Graz (2013); Kunsthaus Baselland (2012); Istituto Svizzero di Roma (2011); and the Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art Vienna (2011), among others.

About Swiss Institute
Swiss Institute has grown from a showcase of Swiss art and artists for a mostly Swiss audience into an innovative international venue for art that provides a significant forum for cultural dialogue between Switzerland, Europe, and the United States. This unique angle fosters interaction between the Swiss and many other communities and nationalities found in New York City. The result is a distinctive view of art and a way of thinking which asks audiences to break with traditional assumptions about art and national stereotypes.


Reto Pulfer at Swiss Institute
Swiss Institute
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