When No Means On: Melvin Moti

When No Means On: Melvin Moti


No Show, 2004
b/w photograph

November 20, 2008

Melvin Moti
When No Means On

October 17, 2008 – January 18, 2009
Artist talk: December 12, 2008 at 7 p.m.

Domstr. 10
D – 60311 Frankfurt


“Aaah, all the paintings are gone! That’s not a problem, I can describe them for you.”

During World War II, the museum’s treasures were removed from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg as a precaution against possible war damage. The empty halls are ghostly, filled with vacant frames that allude to the works they once contained and now serve as a kind of “shadow collection”. In 1943, Pavel Gubchevsky, a museum guide, shows a group of soldiers – most of them on their very first visit to a museum of art – through these empty halls. In an attempt to trigger his visitors’ fantasies, Gubchevsky delivers vivid descriptions of the paintings previously on display and so familiar to him. However, never having seen the works themselves, the soldiers cannot perform an act of recollection. They can only create their own images through an exclusive act of imagination, activated by their guide’s vocalization of the artworks. It is the unseen which they are required to render visible. The viewer of Moti’s film No Show finds himself in a similar situation, being presented not more than an empty exhibition hall, with shadows and light moving slowly through the space. The soundtrack delivers Gubchevsky’s narration and we follow the soldiers’ echoing footsteps through the empty halls. None of them ever enters our sight. With no saints or fiends left on the museum walls, both visitor and viewer are invited to make use of their own creative capacities.

No Show forms part of Melvin Moti’s solo exhibition When No Means On, which – on view at the MMK ZOLLAMT until January 18, 2009 – presents a number of works never yet shown in Germany. Film is Moti’s primary medium. Recently, however, he has begun showing his films in conjunction with works in other media. When No Means On continues this approach. Apart from the films No Show (2004) and The Prisoner’s Cinema (2008), the exhibition includes photographs, prints, a text-based work and an installation in the public realm. The exhibition is a reflection of the artist’s interest in states of non-productivity, comprising a selection of works based on strategies and states of non-production and denial. On various levels, the works are concerned with the reduction of visual information and our reactions to that reduction. Emptiness, absence and the unseen are explored for their prolific capacities, their ability to produce visions and monsters alike. Conditions of non-production are revealed as the breeding ground for an untamed productivity.

Melvin Moti, born in Rotterdam in 1977, studied at the Academie Voor Beeldende Vorming in Tilburg from 1995 to 1999 and worked at De Ateliers in Amsterdam from 1999 to 2001, where he now teaches. In 2006 he received the Charlotte Köhler Prijs and the J.C. van Lanschot Prijs. His works have been shown at the Frac Champagne in Reims, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Kunstverein Köln and elsewhere. He recently participated in the 5th Berlin Biennale. He lives in Rotterdam.

Melvin Moti is the 2007 Karl-Ströher-Preis laureate.

Melvin Moti will be giving a public talk at the MMK, on December 12 at 7 pm.
The event will be held in English.

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November 20, 2008

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