July 21, 2010 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Mike Bouchet: New Living
July 21, 2010

Mike Bouchet: New Living

Mike Bouchet, Sir Walter Scott, 2010
Mixed Media
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Installation view
Photograph: Norbert Miguletz

Mike Bouchet
New Living

1 July – 12 September 2010

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49) 69-29 98 82-0
fax: (+49) 69-29 98 82-240
welcome [​at​] schirn.de


The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents new works by Mike Bouchet in a solo exhibition dedicated to the US artist.

Since the early 1990s, US artist Mike Bouchet has been questioning social processes and structures in his work in a variety of forms including paintings, sculptures, installations, actions, performances, and videos. His artistic practice focuses on social and political issues such as ownership, consumerism, capitalism, and sex, yet also explores his own role as an artist. After Mike Bouchet’s participation in the 53rd Biennale di Venezia (2009), the Schirn is the first institution in Germany to present new works by the artist in a solo exhibition. The show centers around the work “Sir Walter Scott,” a group of 15 sculptures based on the “Watershed” project realized by Bouchet in the harbor basin of the Arsenale in Venice on the occasion of the Biennale. Also including a number of further sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints, the Schirn’s exhibition “New Living” highlights the artist’s approach to questions of urbanity, the (ideal) home, and utopian forms of living together.

Born in Castro Valley, California in 1970, Mike Bouchet spent his youth in the United States and in post-Franco Spain, where he lived for five years. The artist experienced his return to the United States as formative: made sensitive through his sojourn abroad, he now regarded social and political circumstances in the United States with an outsider’s eye and thus became all the more aware of their ruptures. While still studying at the University of California in Los Angeles with Charles Ray, Chris Burden, Paul McCarthy, a.o. from 1990 to 1993, Bouchet, already beginning to devote himself to social and cultural subjects, explored the genesis of personal fantasies, the development of consumer trends, and the emergence of popular cultures.

The 53rd Biennale di Venezia (2009) saw Bouchet’s hitherto most spectacular installation, which, shedding light on the subject of the single-family home, may be regarded as a prolog to the exhibition “New Living” in the Schirn. Bouchet bought a construction kit for a wooden single-family house from Forest Homes in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, made it buoyant, and installed it in the harbor basin of the Arsenale in Venice. For Bouchet, the “Sir Walter Scott” home, which is typical in US suburbs, stands for the dream of independence and individuality, yet also represents a commercial illusion of sorts, a borderline film set where one lays out the realization of the imagined freedom and autonomy. Against the background of the old city, the architecture of the house was something out of place, but maintained its position as a model for a possible extension of Venice and of global life on the water, as it were. However, it was not long before the dream of “new living” was to find an end: the house sank on the very first day, with only the roof remaining above water. Bouchet had not planned this part, yet spoke of a signature the bit of bad luck had endowed his work with. After the Biennale, the house was cut up with chainsaws so as to be made transportable, its parts painstakingly composed on fifteen pallets. The destroyed and transformed house thus became a new group of sculptures titled “Sir Walter Scott.” The cuboid stacks hardly reveal that it is a complete house we are looking at. Bouchet has set to work on it like a sculptor, adding and removing material, regrouping parts from one stack to another, and declared the sculptures – which allegorically relate back to their original meaning as parts of a house – finished at a certain point.

In the exhibition the components, which have been placed on selected rugs, suggest different concepts for new, visionary living situations. The rugs’ motifs, their manufacture, and the process of their selection, the decisions for and against a certain model, constitute an additional level of reflection. Another room in the exhibition, which resembles a realtor’s office, provides space for paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures that round off Bouchet’s associative, erratic and disruptive chart of new living spaces and forms.

Mike Bouchet has continuously taken up social and political issues throughout his productive career. Again and again he relates to economic circulation processes, to phenomena, strategies, and ideas of consumption, marketing, and outsourcing. Whether he developed his own diet coke recipe for “My Cola Lite” (2004) and had the beverage bottled to be sent to China and given away there for free or designed his own label of jeans for “Carpe Denim” (2004), which he had manufactured in Colombia and dropped from a plane over the city where they had been made: his actions, installations, and sculptures always unfold concise pictures of complex economic and cultural contexts and the desires connected with them.

His projects are models of a reality which is both real and fictitious at the same time. “You cannot alter your place in the world without first altering your image of the world,” the artist says, his interest focused on the effects of pictures and the social desires they produce. Minimal contextual shifts are often all he needs to achieve this goal.

CATALOG: Mike Bouchet. Neues Wohnen/New Living. Edited by Matthias Ulrich and Max Hollein. With a preface by Max Hollein and a text by Matthias Ulrich. German and English, 64 pages, ca. 50 illustrations, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-86560-760-7

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein

CURATOR: Matthias Ulrich (Schirn)

OPENING HOURS: Tue, Fri–Sun, 10 am–7 pm; Wed and Thu, 10 am–10 pm

INFORMATION: www.schirn.de

PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik, phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-148, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail: dorothea.apovnik@schirn.de, www.schirn.de (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS)

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