the witty uselessness of failure
In the early 1960s, the best Dutch poem ever written about a door was published. J. Bernlef then wrote ‘Door’. It goes like this: “Push / Pull”. Some time later he wrote a sequel, ‘Deur 2’: “Pull / Push”. To end the series with ‘Door 3’: “Beware of Steps / Be on Opstapje”.
It seems like a truth like a cow over a door until you get to the panels In Orbit or Behind the square by Kevin Bauer. Wooden boards together form a kind of doors in his objects with hinges working against each other. One has a hinge on both the right and left, the other on the side and bottom. You can never open such a door, so you see the door instead of what is behind it.
The exhibition by Kevin Bauer (1987) in the Bart Gallery is called ‘Without the Promise of Success’, a witty collection of works that not only offers no guarantees of success, but in fact reflects on a kind of tragic failure. The art itself foresees what the title warns of, namely the flop, but in cheerful, almost pastel-like colors. It’s like walking through a store where there are things for sale that can probably be used for something, but not either. The useless objects on wood are decorated with door handles, hinges, central heating pipes – Bauer replaces the objects with 3D printing, cardboard, acrylic resin or steel. Together they form wall panels, in the imagery of readymade. big is Memories # 3where foam rubber stands under two rusty building poles, as if foam rubber holds the world together.
Bauer actually plays with the idea of design: beautifully designed objects that you can use. For example, you look at Sotto il DIS then you know for sure that what you see serves some purpose, it looks like an ingenious kind of lock on a panel, friendly in appearance and use, only the lock is next to the hinge. So there is nothing to use. That’s why Kevin Bauer’s useless objects are a breath of fresh air.
Had Bernlef still been alive, he would probably have come up with the poem ‘Deur 4’: “Ttrek / Pullen”.
Radical-sweet totems and crisp vessels of clay
The oven turns on at a temperature of up to 1,250 degrees Celsius and a few hours later, depending on the selected clay and glaze, a shape appears that is matte, rough and dull or brightly colored and shiny – round and with smooth edges. or a whimsical, shaky stroke of luck.
Ceramics have many faces. In recent years, a new generation of artists in baked clay has found the ideal form of expression. Reason enough for the Amsterdam gallery Vriend van Bavink to put together an exhibition of art in ceramics in collaboration with the artist Koos Buster – who as a self-proclaimed ‘ceramics minister’ is one of the driving forces behind the ceramic revival. Works by no less than fifteen different artists are on display, from a pair of decorative plates by Lucebert (1925-1994), to photos in ceramic frames by Jan Hoek and an eerily whimsical black pinball machine by Tim Breukers to works by newly trained potters such as Sun Woo . Jung (who makes attractive-looking deconstructions of, say, an office chair) and Isa van Lier.
A highlight is the huge container ships that Tilmann Meyer Faje makes. They stand on wooden tables in the middle of the room, visibly constructed of loose pieces of baked clay in soft earth tones. Meyer Faje uses a technique in which his clay still appears malleable after it has been fired, when in fact it is already rock hard. With it, he creates a kind of crispy in between.
The high-tech subject, the invisible global logistics on which we depend, is in stark contrast to the radically sweet Kami creatures by Isa van Lier in the same room. On pedestals, there are small mini-sculptures of something in which you can recognize, for example, a butterfly, a strolling fantasy figure or a series of colorful satisfied peas in a blue-green bean – captivating trinkets, which can also have a high emotional value as an inspired totem.
The smart thing is that everywhere in the gallery you will find the sockets, fire detectors, surveillance cameras and fire extinguishers made of ceramic, which are made by Koos Buster. These interventions make the exhibition, which also offers very varied work, still feel like a whole.
Sink into the endless fabric
One and a half years ago came the news that, for the first time, there is more man-made matter on Earth than living matter. In other words, the weight of all man-made objects is now greater than all living animals, plants, fungi and bacteria combined. Climate scientists sounded the alarm, but such statistics remain abstract and hard to imagine for most: another doomsday scenario of how the world is slowly sinking into the abyss.
The German artist Michel Lamoller (1984) is dismissive of this climate fatigue and convincingly visualizes the exaggerated presence of our collective mass of material in The Ravenstijn Gallery. The solo exhibition Man-made mass shows ten meticulously executed photo collages and one installation that follow the same principle on a large scale. Cutting up images of millions of cities in Asia and placing them in endless layers creates dioramas of architectural elements. Balconies of rows of apartment buildings topple over and through each other, while the roofs have been cut up to show the same roof four times more. The many repetitions create a kaleidoscopic effect of urban forms.
IN Man-made fair 6 (Osaka), a collage of almost two meters, you see apartment buildings, billboards and even laundry, but there is nothing alive to see. Lamolls show the lavish human presence on earth without humans.
Photographer Andreas Gursky captures repeated stagings in a similar way, but with Lamoller the power does not lie so much in his motif as in the many perspectives contained in a single collage. The centimeter-deep accumulation of images creates beautiful, endless lines of sight that you can continue to sink into, no matter how cold the material is.
NRC Culture Guide
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