Oil on canvas
Courtesy the artist and lokal_30
July 16–October 9, 2022
Jordan Wolfson, House with Face, 2017. Photo: Josh White. Courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles, HQ London. © Jordan Wolfson.
Jordan Wolfson is known for powerful and unsettling works in a range of media and formats that interrogate the conditions of art, technology, and mass media in contemporary life. Wolfson commandeers his motifs from the gaming industry, internet clips, comic strips, and facial recognition software. His works are anything but accommodating, his questions discomforting. How are imagery and information processed? How do technologies infiltrate our thoughts and perceptions? What is our approach to such issues as sexism, racism, and homophobia? What are our fears doing to us?
In one of his works visitors find themselves in a virtual world, where skyscrapers soar beside them, as cars and yellow taxis pass along one of New York’s grand avenues. Street noise reverberates; it is everyday life in the big city. The 3D video is compelling alone in its uncanny proximity to reality. But a monstrous act begins to quickly unfold in the immediate vicinity, a man is beating another to death with a baseball bat. The viewers become witnesses, they see the victim ultimately bleed to death, implicating themselves by looking. Virtual reality, VR, becomes RV, Real Violence, 2017.
House with Face, 2017, epitomizes the artist’s ability to create familiar yet disquieting visual forms. It depicts a quaint log cabin whose roof appears as a distorted, grimacing, witch-like face with metal rings mounted on the forehead, cheeks, and chin, projecting from the figure’s head like piercings.
Artists Friends Racists, an expansive visual collage from 2021, the year of the pandemic, is being presented on the ground floor of KUB. 20 holographic fans mounted on a wall, revolving at high speed, create the illusion of imagery hovering in space, rotating, pulsating, and splintering. Emojis, Stars of David, and the arms of a cartoon character mingle with a selection of portraits of renowned and historic artists as well as images of Wolfson himself.
Contrasting with the projections that show Wolfson’s admiration and appreciation of his friends and fellow artists are those displaying his disdain for repressive figures of authority and for the subtle and overt ways in which racism is embedded within modern white identity. Illustrating the point, visuals in the work display Dutch people in blackface celebrating Zwarte Piet and white people looking self-satisfied in the mirror, seemingly believing that they’re guiltless. Employing scenes from the children’s TV series Sesame Street and imagery of September 11, 2001, Wolfson juxtaposes high and low, harmless and devastating, cute and brutal. In between, the numbers of the fans appear, like a secret countdown or a code that we are unable to decipher.
The video work Raspberry Poser, 2012, is being screened on the first floor. The projection features a furious cartoon character, a condom roaming the streets of Soho, and an anarchy symbol that rapidly mutates into a heart and signs for the genders. Wolfson works through our fear of AIDS. Beads that look like candy or blood cells trickle out of the condom. Finally, the spiked sphere of a virus emerges, a shape we are now familiar with due to the pandemic. In this work, Jordan Wolfson confronts both sexual identity and inner conflicts, but provides no answers. Instead, Wolfson himself appears as a skinhead with a shaved head, roaming the parks of Paris. Raspberry Poser forgoes any irrevocable reality or clear moral assertions, and yet the video is still able to pose existential questions concerning love, life, desire, and death.
Collages made on wood or metal alloy supports are on display on the second floor, which Wolfson dubs Wall Objects. They are covered with photographic imagery and stickers, ropes or chains dangle down, many featuring symmetrically drilled holes. Some of the collages are reminiscent of workbenches, others of instruments of torture. Some are in the shape of a Star of David. Virtual and imaginary worlds intermesh in the physicosed with imagery signifying emotional frigidity, the menacing, and vengeful.
On the upper floor, a robotic figure dances in front of a mirror. Female Figure, 2014, sports knee-length boots, a white negligee, and blonde wig. Black, evil-looking eyes peer out from under a plague doctor’s green mask. Wolfson has translated video technology into sculpture. The go-go girl undulates her arms in an amazingly graceful manner, her joints creaking to the rhythms of popular music. Wolfson voices the grimy figure that is intriguingly both repulsive and attractive: “My mother is dead. My father is dead. I’m gay.” An uneasy tension develops, not least because the sculpture makes eye contact with the viewer through the mirror.
Jordan Wolfson (b. 1980, New York), studied sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Solo exhibitions were on display at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2019), Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin (2018), and the Pond Society, New Century Art Foundation in Shanghai (2017). In 2016 and 2017 Wolfson presented MANIC / LOVE / TRUTH / LOVE, an early career retrospective, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and 2015 at Cleveland Museum of Art. Further exhibitions were at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent (2013), Chisenhale Gallery, London, and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, and REDCAT, Los Angeles (2012), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (2011), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2009), Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art, New York (2008), Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo (2007), and Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich (2004).
In 2009, he received the Cartier Award from the Frieze Foundation.
Artist’s talk with Jordan Wolfson: July 16, 11am–12pm, in dialogue with KUB director Thomas D. Trummer
Journey on Paper
July 2–November 27, 2022
Joris Ghekiere, Gouache on Mao Zedong poster, 1990–1991.
Joris Ghekiere (1955–2016) gained fame and appreciation as a painter. With his thorough study of and experimentation with the possibilities of the medium, he acquired a unique position in the art of painting. What is barely known, however, is that Joris Ghekiere also left an extraordinarily rich body of work on paper. From the early 1980s till shortly before his death, the artist carefully preserved hundreds of sketches, collages, drawings and watercolours in a chest of drawers in his studio. More than 600 works, in various formats, produced with a variety of techniques and created over a period of more than 35 years. Together they form a surprising oeuvre that runs almost parallel to his well-known paintings.
Apart from a few drawings, Joris Ghekiere has never shown this collection publicly. He did not show it to the many curators, critics and artist friends who regularly visited him in his studio, and certainly not to the general public. With the exception of a few close friends, the chest of drawers and this aspect of Ghekiere’s artistic practice remained a well-kept secret for a long time.
Journey on paper examines the years 1990–1991 in which Joris Ghekiere spent a year traveling through Asia. No fewer than 170 autonomous works of art were created during this months-long journey. Mu.ZEE is the first museum to display a large selection of this collection of works on paper.
A cupboard, a chest of drawers, a drawer: repository of memories
A cupboard, a chest of drawers or just a drawer—these are three objects that turn up regularly in Joris Ghekiere’s work. They appear as rather surreal or mysterious elements in the middle of a marsh, a colonnade or on a Japanese travel drawing. Next to a small drawer on one of his drawings, the artist wrote: “Event. Imagining. Intimate relationship between repositories and hiding places. The reality cannot be grasped. It is interwoven with emotions, thinking, you can only evoke them, touch a nerve, touch on the reality, show the repositories where the mind piles up its emotions. Images emerge, take shape, images from the imagination which cannot immediately be localised.”
Joris Ghekiere’s chest of drawers is a repository of memories, a personal archive consisting of experiments carried out in the studio, on the one hand, and from works created during his travels on the other. It gives us an exceptional insight into the artist’s creative process. This collection of works on paper brings us closer to Joris Ghekiere the artist than his paintings on canvas, in which, as he put it so nicely himself, he created little branding for the viewer.
His own studio versus a mobile studio
The works on paper can be divided into two categories. In the first group, works made in the familiar setting of the artist’s own studio, we find, among other things, sketches after old masters, some style exercises and many landscapes. Most striking, however, are the many collages, drawings and experiments, which can often be directly linked to a specific work of art or a thematic series. These works show similarities with the evolution, variation and layering that recur in Joris Ghekiere’s paintings, and therefore provide an insight into the creation process that preceded his works on canvas. In his preliminary studies we see how the artist departs from certain almost banal images and how he works on them by cutting, pasting and using unusual colours, or painting threatening shadows, in order to arrive at a design or starting point for a painting. Experimentation as a preliminary study for a work or a series is a practice we find many artists employ. The resulting creations not only have an artistic, but also an unmistakable documentary value.
A second category consists of works Joris Ghekiere made while travelling. Even as a young man, the artist was a passionate traveller. Just after he finished his studies, he went to Spain for a few months, followed by numerous trips to Turkey, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, China, Russia and India. During his travels, Joris Ghekiere put his thoughts, impressions and reflections on paper, in words and especially in pictures. The sketchbooks and diaries, watercolours and drawings are therefore fascinating pictorial accounts of his travels. These works, which were not made in the intimacy of his own studio, but in environments and contexts that were so important to Joris Ghekiere, tell of his incredible love of travelling and the unknown, and his fascination with the vastness of nature.
In 1988 already, Joris Ghekiere described himself as ‘a desert wanderer with sand in his eyes’. It is an image that the artist would carry with him for the rest of his life and that is applicable to his approach both to travelling and to painting: “My orientation is good, I am a chess player and want to keep an overview and control, yet as an ardent traveller I find lack of orientation much more interesting. Going curiously into strange and unknown territory.”
The year 1990: one year journey on paper
Among his many trips, a long journey through Asia stands out. On 1 August 1990 Joris Ghekiere set off, with his beloved Inge Henneman, for Asia. There they travelled together through the Philippines, China, Pakistan, India, Japan and Thailand. A year later, in 1991, they returned to Belgium. During this months-long trip Ghekiere made at least 170 autonomous works, as well as countless sketches, designs, collages and sketchbooks, sent or brought back with him and carefully preserved. The many impressions from his travels form the core of this exhibition. They show a clear break in style with the mainly dark works that he made as a young man in the 1980s. We can also see the genesis of motifs and patterns which, abstracted or otherwise, return in Ghekiere’s later painting oeuvre. Contrasting colours, surface division, the use of text, as well as motifs like the circle, the funnel, the telescope and perspective lines make their appearance in Ghekiere’s work during this trip.
Joris Ghekiere painted and drew in nature, rented studios, turned hotel rooms into studios and even studied with a renowned miniaturist in Jaipur (India). The impact of the overpowering landscapes on the artist is very noticeable in his creations. We also see an enormous fascination with the form language used by other cultures in their architecture, religion, philosophy and even political propaganda. In China, for example, Joris Ghekiere made a series of paintings on posters of Mao Zedong, in Pakistan he was inspired by the old Baltit Fort in the Hunza Valley, and in Jaipur he became intrigued by a miniature depicting the story of Krishna subduing the water snake Kaliya. Joris Ghekiere processed these and many other impressions into pictures that bear witness to a very formal interest in certain symbols, customs and aesthetics from other cultures. The content and meaning were interesting to the artist, but rather incidental to the achievement of a strong pictorial image.
“1 year journey on paper…drawings and paintings…China India Japan
Walking freely my shadow before me…Hotel rooms. The beach and…were my studio.”
This was how Joris Ghekiere and Inge Henneman announced the very small exhibition that they organised in the artist’s studio in the autumn of 1991. It is still one of the rare moments that Joris Ghekiere showed his works on paper to the public. Some 30 years later, a broad selection of Ghekiere’s travel drawings, 130 from the 170, have been collected in the exhibition at Mu.ZEE. The images have lost nothing of their pictorial power and show a magnificent travel story by a young artist, a desert wanderer with sand in his eyes.
April 23–November 27, 2022
Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Giardini, Venice, Italy
The Japan Pavilion at the 59th International Venice Biennale presents 2022, a new work by Dumb Type, a pioneering art collective engaged primarily in installations, video works, and performances in museums and theaters both in Japan and overseas.
A new work by the artist collective Dumb Type.
“Mirrors on four stands rotate at high speed, reflecting lasers trained on them to project text onto the surrounding walls. The projected texts are all taken from an 1850s geography textbook, posing simple yet universal questions. The sounds of voices reading the texts are emitted from rotating parametric speakers, becoming highly directional beams of sound that travel around the room. In contrast to the discourses that surround it, the center of the room is an empty space—a place that exists nowhere, but at the same time a place that could be anywhere. We live in a time of post truth and liminal spaces. The center is void.” —Dumb Type
About Dumb Type
Founded in 1984, Dumb Type is comprised of artists from diverse backgrounds—visual art, music, video, dance, design, programming and other fields—all contributing to a great variety of stage and installation productions over the years. They have maintained an open-ended creative style with no fixed director and a changing roster of members participating in each new production as part of their on-going exploration of ever new possibilities in artistic collaboration. Since its formation, Dumb Type has worked toward a broadening of the possibilities for artistic expression. Derived from the diversity of its members and from the different media the group uses, Dumb Type’s work ranges across such diverse media as art exhibitions, performances and live music concerts. Their interdisciplinary efforts continue to transcend existing genres of fine art, theater and dance. Regardless of genre, the essence of their work addresses a variety of social issues related to contemporary society, and the today’s technological reality on a global scale.
Their works has been presented in numerous festivals and exhibitions, including the Guggenheim Museum Soho, New York (1994), Hong Kong Arts Festival (1996), Barbican Centre, London (1998), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1999), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999), New National Theatre, Tokyo (2000), Singapore Arts Festival (2002), Venice Biennale (2003), Seoul International Modern Dance Festival (2005), Melbourne International Arts Festival (2006), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2007), The Athens Concert Hall (2009), Romaeuropa, Palazzo delle Esposizioni (2017), solo exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2018) and Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2019), among others.
The Dumb Type Exhibition at Haus der Kunst Munich will be held from May 6 to September 11, 2022.
Japan Pavilion at the 59th International Venice Biennale
Commissioner: The Japan Foundation
Artist: Dumb Type
Project Members: Shiro Takatani, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ken Furudate, Satoshi Hama, Ryo Shiraki, Marihiko Hara, Hiromasa Tomari, Takuya Minami, Norika Sora, Yoko Takatani and others
Voices: David Sylvian, Maria Takeuchi, Kahimi Karie, Niki
Field recordings*: Yan Jun (Beijing), Crosby Bolani (Cape Town), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Chiang Mai), Kali Malone & Stephen O’Malley (La Tour-de-Peilz), Mukul Patel (London), John Warwicker (Melbourne), Martin Hernandez (Mexico City), Giuseppe La Spada ( Mount Etna), Damian Lentini (Munich), Alec Fellman (New York), Andri Snær Magnason & Kaśka Paluch (Reykjavik), Jaques Morelenbaum (Rio de Janeiro), Atom Heart (Santiago), Cheng Chou (Taipei), Nima Massali (Tehran), Seigen Ono (Tokyo)
*originally recorded for the installation Playback directed by Ryuichi Sakamoto for the Dumb Type Exhibition at Haus der Kunst Munich in 2022