MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Isa Genzken, Oil XI, 2007. Installation view (detail). German Pavilion. 52nd Venice Biennale. Courtesy Goetz Collection, Munich. Photo by Jan Bitter. © Isa Genzken, 2009.

September 23, 2009

Contemporary Artists Researching Modernity and Modernism

23/09/2009 – 17/01/2010

Opening: Tuesday, 22 September 2009, 7.30 pm

Plaça dels Angels, 

08001 Barcelona

Curated by Sabine Breitwieser

With works by Anna Artaker, Alice Creischer/Andreas Siekmann, Domènec, Katja Eydel, Ângela Ferreira, Andrea Fraser, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham and Robin Hurst, Tom Holert with Claudia Honecker, Marine Hugonnier, IRWIN, Runa Islam, Klub Zwei (Simone Bader and Jo Schmeiser), John Knight, Labor k3000 (Peter Spillmann/Michael Vögeli/Marion von Osten), Louise Lawler, David Maljkovic, Dorit Margreiter, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gustav Metzger, Christian Philipp Müller, Henrik Olesen, Paulina Olowska, Falke Pisano, Mathias Poledna, Florian Pumhösl, Martha Rosler, Armando Andrade Tudela, Marion von Osten, Stephen Willats, Christopher Williams and many other artists in the film programme.

Over the past three decades, criticism on the project of modernity and its related content has not only generated countless activities in the academic field, but has also led to numerous works by artists researching modernity from their perspective and with their own means. A younger generation of artists is again increasingly addressing the legacy of modernity and modernism and the failure of the utopia associated with these terms. What has prompted contemporary artists to investigate modernity and modernism, its aesthetic manifestation? What are these artists’ relationships to the promises and formal languages of modernity? How can this historical era even be critically reflected in and be subjected to a re-evaluation?

Modernologies sets out to explore artistic responses to modernity from its original reformist intention as a socio-political movement aspiring to cultivate a universal language. Diverging conceptions of modernity and the knowledge gained through postcolonial studies in recent years have led to the notion of ‘multiple modernities’. Against this backdrop, this exhibition advocates neither a ‘new formalism’ nor a ‘return to abstraction’. Neither is its aim to discover hitherto unknown or largely forgotten currents of modernism. On the contrary, the works on display fundamentally challenge the conditions, constraints and consequences of modernity. They expose ambivalences and attempt to develop new readings of the rhetoric of modernity and the concomitant grammar of modernism.

Modernologies unfolds a cartography of alternative viewpoints and narratives, lines of conflicts and unresolved contradictions. About 130 works and projects by more than thirty artists and collectives establish a new ‘mapping of the critique of modernity’. The works featured in the exhibition are organised around three leitmotifs: ‘the production of space’, illustrated by a series of projects that explore the conflicts and correspondences between the architectural space of modernity and the social and political space; ‘the concept of a universal language’, taking into account modernism’s ideology and its attempt to create a universal language in the form of abstract aesthetic symbols and forms; and ‘the politics of display’, illustrating how artists use the exhibition itself as a medium, in this way challenging the notion of the display and playing the role of quasi-curators. The three exhibition sections not only intertwine, establishing countless dialogues, but also find continuation in several works located outside these areas, or in transition zones.

In the accompanying publication an additional layer is added through comprehensive essays exploring the ideology of aesthetic modernity – autonomy, authenticity and alterity, and delving into interrelationships between modernity and coloniality, the ‘other side, the dark side of modernity’. The catalogue comprises essays by Sabine Breitwieser (editor), Cornelia Klinger, Walter D. Mignolo, artists’ statements generated by André Rottmann and texts on individual artists by various authors, including Inke Arns, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Sabeth Buchmann, Barbara Clausen, Helmut Draxler, Jordi Font Agulló, Matthias Michalka, Juliane Rebentisch, Anne Rorimer, Gertrud Sandqvist, Kerstin Stakemeier, among others.

Programme of activities – MACBA Auditorium
Parallel to the exhibition, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) has organised three round tables and a film programme, both also compiled by Sabine Breitwieser.

23 September 2009, 5 – 10 pm
Panel discussions: Just what is it that makes modernity and modernism for visual artists so different, so appealing today? – The politics of artistic research
The debates will bring together the curator and some of the artists whose works are featured in the show. Discussion will revolve around issues relating to the attraction exercised by the idea of modernity and different artistic practices. These issues coincide with the three themes of the exhibition itself:
Panel 1: ‘The production of space and (de)colonisation’, with the participation of Ângela Ferreira, Runa Islam and Marion von Osten, moderated by Chus Martínez;
Panel 2: ‘The idea of creating a universal language versus corporate identity and branding’, with Alice Creischer/Andreas Siekmann, Tom Holert and Florian Pumhösl, moderated by Miguel López; and
Panel 3: ‘The politics of display and rewriting the history of modernism’, with Borut Vogelnik (IRWIN), Falke Pisano and Christian Philipp Müller, moderated by André Rottmann.
Free admission.

30 September to 28 October 2009, Wednesdays, at 7.30 pm
Film programme: Modernity and after
The titles featured will show the way in which the audiovisual productions of some of the artists included in the exhibition establish a dialogue with works from the historic avant-gardes. Indeed, more than a complementary programme, and despite being held in a different location, it has been conceived as yet another section of the exhibition. The programme is divided into five parts:
1. ‘Architecture as art, art as architecture’, with films by Gordon Matta-Clark, Isa Genzken and Manthia Diawara;
2. ‘Utopian landscapes and geopolitics’, films by Marine Hugonnier and Jean Vidal;
3. ‘Abstraction and beyond’, films by David Maljkovic, László Moholy-Nagy, Armando Andrade Tudela, Oskar Fischinger, Florian Pumhösl, Percy Smith and Falke Pisano;
4. ‘Performing the modern house’, films by Dorit Margreiter, Man Ray, Ursula Mayer, Florian Pumhösl, Hans Richter and Moira Hille; and
5. ‘Modern life and after’, films by Paul Wolff, Rebecca Baron/Dorit Margreiter, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Marina Gržinic/Aina Šmid.
Detailed programme: (limited seating)

After its initial presentation at the MACBA the Modernologies exhibition will travel to the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw in Poland.

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)

MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
September 23, 2009

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