Thomas Bayrle

Thomas Bayrle

MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Carlos II, 1977
Courtesy of Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© Thomas Bayrle, 2009

February 6, 2009

Thomas Bayrle.
I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

6 February – 19 April 2009

Official opening:
Thursday, 5 February 2009, at 7:30 pm.

Curator: Chus Martínez

Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Angels, 

08001 Barcelona

Under the title I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona not only presents, for the first time, a large array of Thomas Bayrle’s works, but also highlights the artist’s ability to take us to a different place in his work, a place far from what has become familiar, where we can consider how humans and the technology they invent can create or destroy the meaning of things.

This exhibition offers an overall vision of the praxis of German artist Thomas Bayrle (Berlin, 1937) from the end of the 1960s until now. The beginnings of his work were conceived in a key historical, political and social moment in the recent history of Europe, at the end of the ’60s. This was a moment defined by the need to create a new conception of the cultural identity and aesthetic sensibility of a country in a state of upheaval, Germany. Frankfurt, the city Thomas Bayrle was living and working in, became one of the most important centres of protest. The economic miracle following the Second World War had reached its end, and the need to completely revise the ideological bases and structure of existing hierarchies had become urgent for a generation that felt the need to write history in other terms, and to create cultural alliances different from those of preceding generations. The atmosphere generated by the American presence in Germany, the crisis in the Middle East and the war in Vietnam undoubtedly marked the starting point of an œuvre that has remained attentive to the possibility that change can be produced in the world we know, and that from this, another new and different world might emerge.

This exhibition provides a thematic and chronological tour through his work as a whole, from the photographic collages of the 1950s; the ‘machines’, as the artist calls them (oil paintings that turn out to be mechanical toys in which the figures can be activated by the spectator); to his 16 mm film collages and the digital animation work created in the nineties. A vision of the whole leads to another reading of the relationship between popular and high culture in a moment and a context – Europe – in which modernity sees the possibility of reaching the general public via the culture industry.

Paul Valéry claimed that the profoundest thing that exists is the skin. The central issue in Thomas Bayrle’s oeuvre as such is the status of the surface of the real. Everything that happens takes shape, happens, in the epidermis of reality, which has to be understood as a constant flow of images and sounds in which the division between what occurs at a deeper level and what is superficial no longer has meaning. All is surface and the surface is a reversible fabric in which, as in quantum physics, differentiating events turn out to not be credible. In his work the recurrent ideas of the Pop movement, like repetition, media myth and consumption, are directed towards a more general question, one which concerns the paradoxical status of feeling; that is, of the marriage of reality and feeling. The importance of formulating a new phenomenology of the experience of historical time is at the heart of Thomas Bayrle’s work, and of the project specially conceived for this exhibition.

A basic theme in the context of an institution in which an interest in the temporal, in the history of art and collective memory coexists with the urge to keep a commitment alive to understanding and grasping the meaning of living in and from the present.

Bayrle’s work grows out of that we might call ‘conceptual enthusiasm’: the belief that the real is just as susceptible to being mythified as the mythical is capable of engendering strong effects of reality.

Between Thomas Bayrle and Lars Bang Larsen
Friday, 6 February at 7:30 pm
MACBA Auditorium. Free admission. Limited seating

With Thomas Bayrle
From 23 to 27 March, from 5 to 8 pm
Classroom 2 MACBA. Free admission
Pre-enrollment: From 2 to 14 March
Limited seating

Film screening
Rote Sonne (Red Sun), 1969, Rudolf Thome
Thursday, 12 February at 7:30 pm
MACBA Auditorium. Free admission. Limited seating

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)

RSVP for Thomas Bayrle
MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
February 6, 2009

Thank you for your RSVP.

MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.