September 6, 2004 - Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst - The Future Has a Silver Lining
September 6, 2004

The Future Has a Silver Lining

The Future Has a Silver Lining
28 August – 31 October 2004

Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst 
 Limmatstrasse 270
 Postfach 1766
 CH-8005 Zurich
<p> T. +41 1 277 20 65
F. +41 1 277 62 86

Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller – Meret Oppenheim – Brice Dellsperger – Francesco Vezzoli – Manon – James Lee Byars – Fergus Greer/Leigh Bowery – T.J. Wilcox – Marc Camille Chaimowicz – Julian Gothe – Cerith Wyn Evans – Kutlug Ataman – Sanja Ivekovic – Jonathan Horowitz – Josephine Meckseper – Mick Rock – Katharina Sieverding – Mark Leckey – Michel Auder – Sylvie Fleury – Daniele Buetti – Bernhard Martin – Carlos Pazos – Christian Flamm – Francesco Scavullo – Nicole Wermers – Tom Burr – John Edward Heys – Wols – Shannon Bool – Tabboo a.k.a. Steven Tashian – Cosey Fanni Tutti – Urs Luthi – Daniel Robert Hunziker & Klassenfahrt/KMUProduktionen – Franz Gertsch – Peter Hujar – Allen Frame and many others…

This exhibition is an invitation to explore the cultural practices and systems of representation that are linked to the term “glamour”. Our point of departure is the observation that the role of the visual arts within the construction and reflection of this “shimmering totality” (Frieda Grafe) has always been a particularly well-kept secret. “Glamour” simply wouldn’t fit into the narrative of modernity. It was decried as vulgar, superficial, as mass culture, and writings on aesthetic theory and studies of more serious art forms excluded “glamour” as an object of study, even though it has been impossible to ignore the “function of glamour” (Theodor W. Adorno) in the arts since the advent of Surrealism, or the time of Pop Art and Postmodernism at the very latest.

Today, by contrast, it is quite common to characterize the art world in terms of prominence and the glamour factor. As a matter of fact, in a market where investment focuses largely on issues of competition between places and cities on the tourist market and the personalities – or celebrities – that this implies, glamour is perhaps the most important currency. This dependence on glamour and sex appeal concerns not only artists, but also gallery owners, collectors and curators.

Aesthetically and economically speaking, glamour is highly stimulating. A case in point is the ease and self-assurance with which “glamorised” forms of visual art now communicate with other sectors of lifestyle culture, such as fashion, film, drama, design, music, the club scene, Boulevard theatre etc. Since everyone is eager to partake in the new glamour continuum, it now has considerable potential to make connections and expand.

Glamour plays a decisive part in the cultural industry, generating new demands for consumption and identification, and thus also playing a role in the neo-liberal doctrine of the entrepreneurial individual. Today, being glamorous is a qualification that is crucial for a career in the “creative industries”. However, taking a clear distance from the said modus operandi, glamour can also serve as a resource for the production of subjectivities that depart from dominant cultural paradigms. The strategies and politics of counter-glamour open new spaces within which nostalgic retrospection and utopian design are combined with odd practices. The appropriated, illegitimate glamour of minorities, and the carnival-like hyperbole of glamorous performance question conventional models of identity and normative ideas of beauty and success – or temporarily suspend them. This is why – setting aside the overall engagement with historical and contemporary aspects of glamour – artistic approaches that not only document our helplessness before the call for glamour, but also elaborate and realize the empowering potential of the glamorous, are crucial.

Obviously, the ambivalence between critique and affirmation can never be dispelled completely. The artworks in The Future Has a Silver Lining are related to the glamorous in a manner that is all too imbued with fascination and desire. To move beyond ambiguity in this field is not a feasible aesthetic or political option. Instead, glamour-related postures such as melancholy, irony, exaggeration and hedonism come into play. What is ultimately important is to understand that appropriations of the dominant forms of glamour are distinctive both historically and culturally.
The Future Has a Silver Lining includes a wide range of artistic genres and historical periods. As well as film and video installations (including those by Kutlug Ataman Janet Cardiff / George Bures Miller, T.J. Wilcox, Francesco Vezzoli, Brice Dellsperger), examples from photography, the defining medium of glamour, highlight the historical and social conditions under which glamorous moments and atmospheres came about and were documented. These include historical film stills from the Christoph Schifferli collection, Fergus Greer’s photographic mises-en-scene of Leigh Bowery, as well as photographic works by Francesco Scavullo, Mick Rock, Sanja Ivekovi_ , Carlos Pazos, Michel Journiac, Katharina Sieverding, Tom Burr, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Allen Frame. The sculptures (including those of Julian Gothe, Nicole Wermers, Manon, Justen Ladda, James Lee Byars) and those installations that are sculptural in character and rely partly on the use of lights and projections (e.g. Cerith Wyn Evans, Daniele Buetti, Josephine Meckseper, Marc Camille Chaimowicz) represent enquiries into the spatial conditions that lead to the successful display or staging of a dazzling performance, or to its failure. Finally, in the middle of the exhibition space, a landscape of glass display cases designed by Daniel Robert Hunziker & Klassenfahrt/KMUProduktionen, contains an archive of glamour – a selection from pop culture’s arsenal of gestures and imagery, that contextualizes and comments on the artists’ contributions.

Curators of the exhibition: Heike Munder & Tom Holert

September 17, 2004, 8pm, video screening at the migros museum fur gegenwartskunst, with Brice Dellsperger and many others…

Presented by Raphael Gygax

This exhibition is part of the project “Doing Glamour”. From August 28 to October 31, a network of cultural institutions in Zurich will hold a series of events and investigations connected with the subject of glamour. As well as the migros museum fur gegenwartskunst, these institutions include the Gessnerallee Theatre, the Institute for Theory of Art and Design (Zurich University of Art and Design), the Xenix Movie Theatre, Filmpodium, Mascotte, Toni Molkerei, the Grossmunster Church and Kinoapparatom.

For further information see:


The catalogue documenting the exhibition, including essays by Tom Holert, Heike Munder, Ian Penman and Terre Thaemlitz, will be published by JRP/Ringier towards the end of the show.

The migros museum fur gegenwartskunst is an institution of the Migros Culture Percentage.

Tue/Wed/Fri 12am – 6pm, Thu 12am – 8pm, Sat/Sun 11am – 5pm

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
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