FUTURE SHOW is the reconstruction of an exhibition of the same name in the year 1948 in New York, whose exhibits are no longer available in the original.
Future Show, 2010, Cruise & Callas, Berlin
Future Show is the reconstruction of an exhibition of the same name in the year 1948 in New York, whose exhibits are no longer available in the original. In her installation comprising a video, photo works, painting behind glass and large format drawings on fabric and paper, Alexandra Hopf creates several interlocking levels of perception, in which the theories of perception and philosophy, psychoanalysis, design, film theatre and exhibition history are reflected.
The paradoxical title brings the term contemporary into question: in the quoting of an exhibition in the exhibition, historical representation and present-day perception, fiction and documentation, melt together.
The issue of directing the gaze in a museum context is explored in a frame of relations of referentiality and self-referentiality between the displayed works. The exhibits are representations of disappeared works, merchandise articles, exhibition posters and documentation instruments. The museum depicted on film shimmers atmospherically between womb, store of unconscious images, Kafkaesque trompe-l'oeil architecture and cabinet of curiosities. Its similarity to a deserted department store brings into question the modern white cube, which ostensibly provides neutrality and objectivity of presentation, transparency and clarity, thereby disguising the merchandise character of the art.
The video’s text contains many-layered allusions to the picture theories of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, essays of the art historian and philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman etc., which the documentary character of the explanatory notes appear to substantiate, and in actual fact only serve as words that trigger associative references.
The examination of the layers of perception and the subjectivity and ambivalence of the act of seeing is common to the video and the whole setting of the exhibition in ZERO FOLD: the look that is never free from its own desire is at the same time given access, but must resolve itself over and over again, can never keep hold of what it grasps and each time transforms what is seen into a subjectively perceived thing. In the same was as the artist acquires found material and absorbs it, revealed or concealed, in the process of reworking, the viewer of the works created by her also retransforms that which is seen.
The display depicted in the video reprises the exhibition architecture of the architect, designer and stage designer, Friedrich Kiesler. In parallel to the challenges which the consumer society in general has faced since the post-war period, it demands of the viewer a much more flexible mode of seeing and integration with the artwork (as representative of all remaining objects/goods of the modern age) than the rigid setting of a classic museum. It stands for the incomprehensibility, the impossibility of capturing an image “in itself”. The more differentiated and complex the world becomes, the more selectively our perception must inevitably function. The unconscious knowledge of that, along with everything one concentrates on increasingly cutting out and excluding, brings about melancholy. Each choice means a loss of all the rest, the renunciation of what wasn’t chosen.
Alexandra Hopf’s works also reflect the theories of picture- making and analysis on the technical level: her paintings behind glass are based on a pictorial construction with an inverted order, as the paint layer sprayed on first remains in the foreground. The picture-making process proceeds the wrong way round, like a reconstruction of itself from the visible end result to the grounding layer.
The state of blurriness turns up in all the media that Alexandra Hopf selects, and doesn’t serve to disguise, but rather to emphasise single parts and objects. The precision of the fine drawings within the contours with pastel and watercolour on the drawing stands out all the more, as it drifts out on a not quite fathomable picture frame in countless fine layers of spray paint.
The works seduce the viewer in their delicacy and at the same time keep themselves out of sight. The individual’s gaze in its turn deletes the object and replaces it. Its illusion and projection create its own new images which make the existing ones disappear.
Text: Birgit Laskowski