Anke te Heesen: Exhibitions: The Cultural-historical Turn of the 1970s



and now we are going to hear ankita hessen I'm very pleased to introduce yer who is Professor for the history of science at a humble University of Berlin since 2011 and he was awarded also the Abbeville prize in 2008 please welcome hunky new Hessen ok first of all thank you so much for being here so that it's possible to speak to you I feel very honoured about that and in the next course of half an hour I will rarely speak about bar book but you will see what the next minutes will bring when I had to send in my title for my talk month ago it was hard to know to where I will turn my attention in the course of rereading varberg and the early texts that were written about him it became more and more clear that the kind of exhibition I had in mind is to be seen as a parallel event to the renaissance of the writings of our book in the 1970s especially in Germany his topics art and science high and low and so forth and his theories the psychic roots of mankind and their expressions were put into the foreground of any humanist and cultural historian at that time why was it that babak became so important in the 80s and early 90s what is the context of this fascinating Renaissance first I will give no I will not answer these questions but I will give in the course of the next half hour an observation one possible explanation beside many many others secondly I am NOT obsessed by turns but what came into being in the 1970s was a special sort of exhibition neither contemporary art exhibits nor art historical exhibitions those shows I will briefly introduce you to wear spatial experiments that try to unify art and science high and low and subjective and objective knowledge my argument will be that there are three presentations to bear in mind which show this development ex-employee I will start with a detail the rectangular form and seams of a silverback ripped open at one end make clear that we are dealing with a casing an envelope Minh tough some kind those slightly crinkled and scratched the back retains its lustrous sheen and one can almost imagine an oversight bar of chocolate within but at a second glance one notices the label Lizzie material and the other end of the foil rectangle the words album and inventory as well as Santa georges pompidou the center of the back flaunts a spiral form which unlike the imprinted words resists a clear description echoing the undulations of the curving figure the color printed on the silver foil oscillates two under changing light effects the light stone gray is in one moment clearly visible and in the next moment is swallowed up by the reflections of the silver foil only the promised contents are clearly printed in black as are the two bars that lead to the back side of the package and here one finds the price the barcode and the publication number there is no mistaking now the contents of the package it has to be some kind of book like object which is fittingly presented in such a sumptuous costly manner that the catalogue to the exhibition Lizzie material is the content of for sale is finally made obvious by the reference to the Georges Pompidou the silver lavishly coated foil was the latest trend of the 1980s with its futuristic appearance more appropriate for space travel and for exhibition catalogues it demanded attention it evoked Andy Warhol's so the clouds which weren't intended for use but rather were designed to celebrate one thing above all glamour the fleshy material of the pop icon had taken hold of Paris Exhibition venues Lizzy materials gave the impression of a newly packaged event with a generous dash of pop before a global ecological consciousness brought an end to such expensively produced packaging the exhibition team decided to place the catalog on the market in form of a consumer good and a glittery space treasure both material and image attested to the product being sold the printed logo appeared as a label on the books as well as on the posters of the exhibition and suggested a stylized incomplete print of a fingertip lines of irregular with run parallel into a spiral form and then out of it again it invokes both a fleeting sign and a trace it captures the already vanishing and the not yet present the remains of a fingerprint stylized here as a trace mark a movement within the four borders of the sparkling packaging and represent the opposite of a goal-oriented path with a beginning and an end the silver foil and the fingerprint call coalesce into a union that points to the new in the old it does not suggest the simple reversal but indeed a change in direction the exhibition Lizzie material took place in Paris from March to July 1985 at the Santa Georges Pompidou and was curated by the philosopher jean-françois Liotta and the design theorist teary sharpie its aim was no less than to express the postmodern condition in three dimensions and to consider in that space how art and science and philosophy could be captured through new technologies of communication the curators hands understood materiality not necessarily as immaterial so much so as they questioned the modern conception of materiality and brought its plural manifestations to the fore therefore it is hardly surprising that the curators attach great importance even to the catalog and its design parts of the catalogue were designed as loose leaves to break up the linearity of the bound book other parts were composed by multiple authors yet the catalogue in its entirety was initially presented as a sealed package similar to the concept of the multiple the catalogue epitomized the commodity character of objects the consumed ability of knowledge and its simultaneous proximity to pop the stacks of shrink-wrapped catalogues constituted in the truest sense of the word a product of the cultural industry Lizzie material was an exhibition in the 80s that attended to the new possibilities of knowledge temporarily limited incorporating many actors dependent on technological conditions and in contrast to modern progress oriented thought nonlinear the exhibition at the Santa Pompidou attempted to translate a new visibility of science and knowledge into spatial terms in its rooms visitors encountered artworks and objects simulations screens and computers prompting sensory impressions the exhibition was therefore both a presentation venue and spatial metaphor for the new post modern knowledge foliot our knowledge can no longer be understood teleological as a homogeneous block rather knowledge splinters into pleura bases which are occupied by numerous different actors the exhibition refuses to navigate the visitors instead visitors are allowed to find their own way through the exhibition to experience the space as a net which interlinks their points and traverses they're tangled paths and to fathom new combinations through the juxtaposition of diverse collections such presentation movements can be designed designated as emancipatory movements breaking away from text and relying on the simultaneous associative visual impressions Lizzie material should therefore be understood as a specific type of exhibition which had it roots in the 1970s took on its characteristic forms in the 1980s and broadly established itself in the 1990s this kind of exhibition aimed at uniting art and science aesthetics and practice sense and intellect it attempted to implement theory through aesthetic means and thus encourage visitors to comprehend the exhibition in connection with their own lives it was not a coincidence that this undertaking involved addressing the topic of the human psyche theorists like Judy Lewis and Felix quarter he michel foucault and jean-françois Liotta and exhibition makers like haha demon and you're clear were united in their interest and the potential of the human psyche and its relationship to the preceding era of modernity which conditions of life make liberation possible how could the human psyche shaped by modernity be translated into a new emancipated sensory apparatus of post modernity similar to the contemporaneous theoretical experiments which sort through fuse image and text into an amalgam here tues stood the epistemic potential of aesthetics at issue the exhibition formed a concentrated side of sensory visual visual possibilities these possibilities were examined while it was asked at the same time how to progressively achieve its best realization to this end it was necessary to reflect on the foundations of modernity on the exertions taken on by the human psyche to shape itself so that it could keep up with a bygone age of machinery when Javed Zeman opened his exhibition Yungas and maschinen the bachelor machines and here you see the cover of the catalog and in the coming pictures or will not show you the exhibition because that would need much more time to explain the pictures so i give you the covers of the catalog so when howard Zeman opened his exhibition Yungas a machine the bachelor machines in the burn museum of art in july 1975 not only did he focus on visualizing a literary myth but also on exploring the bourgeois capitalist predominantly male subjects relationship to love and sexuality Zeman emphatically tread a new path by conceptualizing the artworks at the center of the exhibition with documents from the sciences in so doing he attempted to give a scientific foundation of the obsession with the infertile sexual machinery the art historian Peter gorzan writing about Zeman's concept claimed that its particularity lay in its emphasis on these significance of the bachelor machine within the philosophical psychiatric discussion gorzan furthermore refers to de loup second and guitari when suggesting that the potential sex drive suppressed by the industrial production simultaneously act X as the productive libido that comprised the foundation for production and he said capitalism produces its own contradictions exhibitions as Gore's made clear in his commentary could and should therefore take on the charge of critiquing ideology in taking up this task Zeman rely particularly on sensory mediation and I quote the most important myth of the bachelor machine should therefore be sensual eyes and put into optical perspective the relevance of this translation work however needs to be conveyed concurrent to the optical experience in other words the implicit socio critical dysfunctional attitude needs to be made explicit when addressing these myth whether this can be achieved with the instruments of an exhibition alone I am unable to say end of quote that Zeman strive to combine a political position with a new form of knowledge in his exhibition is underscored by his closing words it is the gamble of such exhibitions to see whether knowledge could be translated into event value arrite miss viet this cannot be planned to be sure so semen yet the exhibition certainly can be experienced and seen in multiple layers the exhibition wants to demonstrate that nowadays intentions and behavior are the actual goal and not ready made products the exhibition as a forum for discussion and a mode of sensory knowledge this was the program of the spatial juxtaposition of art and science it dependent on proliferating associations and sought to spur these by hanging the exhibits like pieces of evidence or what Zeman called evidence hang on artworks placed next to books books next to texts and sculptures next to machines desean's ready-mades were related to the fantastical apparatus ease of science fiction films the machine from Kafka's panel colony was shown as a three-dimensional model and presented in a spatial sequence with photographs of spiritualist sessions or of the allegorical achievements of industrialization at the word expositions within Zeman's cosmos art and science were understood in conjunction with one another because they were equally characterized by industrial production and because only through their fusion could the obsessive nature of men and its manifestations be made clear the Yungas n maschinen proceeded Lizzie material their ambition was political they were intended to trigger a critical shift of consciousness with respect to previous understandings of subjectivity ten years later in Paris it was less the goal for politically explosive force and more so the ambition to turn the intellectual history of men upside down the singular subject had turned into many actors and his potentialities were multiplied another four years later in Vienna in 1989 the exhibition unda block for its mistake writing pad historicized the human psyche through a consistent parallelization of art and science this time however this was presented as a new history of the soul as claimed by the exhibition subtitle a history rewritten in accordance with postmodern theory the show was opened in april nineteen eighty nine on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of zigmund for its death and was curated by Jean Claire Catrin pasala and Vulcan pieria jean claire had already participated in the yoga zen machine and pizza acknowledged the precursors curatorial efforts i quote this exhibition raises the questions on the genesis of the modern consciousness and thus finds itself in the tradition of hard simons Yungas n machine and jean-françois Liotta Lizzie material two exhibitions that dare to confront the self conception of modernity and attempted to locate its genesis in the reciprocal relationship between the natural sciences and artistic imagination of the 19th century end of quote once again it was about art and science this time however with a slight shift in perspective but psychical is handled less from the viewpoint of one affected or involved and more so from a historical perspective it was no longer a critique of ideology and instructions for new drafts but rather a distance distance comparative treatment no longer guidance for a new consciousness but rather a recapitulation of a historical development if the idea of interlacing art works with scientific objects was for Zeman still part of an attempt to actively change the word the Wonder block exhibition postulated the existence of multiple varied narrative threats on the psyche the brain and the subject and established these as one of many meta-narratives on man psychoanalysis was put into context with mesmerism phrenology was juxtaposed with fee on us with found a secular art and the physiognomic oriented experiments from France Sava Messerschmitt to Teodor Jericho and in his catalogue text x stroke in the mind Zhang Claire begins with the rhetorical question what is the point of uniting so many different things in a place which we call exhibition can we place works which we refer to as works of art side by side with scientific instruments or even with objects like Mesmer's strange machineries which almost no one today knows how to operate in a men are much more careful than the stormy rhetoric of Zeman and his peers in the 1970s Claire approaches the traditional fields of high art and individual scientific communities as a system of references the curator Claire explicitly addresses the critique of such an interdisciplinary approach only to immediately reject it according to critiques while the one exhibition visitor would be robbed of her intellectual curiosity since there is apparently nothing to learn here the other would be disturbed in their pure enjoyment of an artwork but says Claire in reality things are a little bit more complicated after all as clear makes unmistakably clear art and science can no longer rely on their former self evidence they too need to reconstitute themselves in the new age of post modernity and I quote considering the grey data stomach confusion that characterizes postmodern t it is necessary to swim against the stream back to the beginnings back to that which originally conceived of the soul as unique to mankind and placed it at the center of our attention after men had in the way of 1789 stopped listening to God Claire's sa makes clear the multi perspectival or the rhizomatic readings that sounded so promising in the mid-1970s we are now subjected to an integrative assessment that placed the history of knowledge at the center of its inquiry in order to gain new perspectives for future treatment of the topic the old vocabulary for such call to action remains intact swimming against the stream yet the new goal was to mark the origin and trace the steps of development it addressed beauty in its different forms it aimed at gathering explanations from science and from art and putting these jointly into play history cessation and s statuses ation now went hand in hand and were scrutinized in light of a possible future of enlightenment like hansel but yells called it if one was no longer occupied with the supremacy of reason and the comprehensiveness of the encyclopedia how then could one enhance the critical potential for aesthetic development Claire answer to this challenge was first to localize the fields of knowledge to lose in their classic disciplinary borders just enough far enough so that new fields of inquiry could emerge and thus consolidate into a history of knowledge this point was elaborated in the preface to the catalog the convergence of art and science of the supposedly subjective and objective is among other reasons possible because science is increasingly understood as an image as pictorial and vice versa art is experienced as the stage of ideas hence sensory experience according to the preface still was to be combined with the event value demanded by Zeman and contained within it the seed for future history of knowledge to conclude exhibitions spanning multiple fields of knowledge were established in the 1980s the juxtaposition of divers objects from art and science stabilized itself as a tool of presentation and an ever growing public marveling at the exhibited relations between these domains while the young as an machine still built upon the assumption that it could represent a political aesthetic forum and Lizzie material postulated for the first time a new kind of knowledge the vunda block is Torah sized these impulses in the process of their establishment the ones political motivated juxtaposition intended to be used as a bodily source of knowledge was increasingly depoliticized and established as a new alternative narrative approach the activating constellations of objects were made into fields of association upon which new narratives unfolded and what about the packaging it demonstrates that the estate is a shin of the Dewar's domains of knowledge who is not only implemented in the programmatic spatial arrangement of the exhibition but also into the glittering consumer culture the wrapping around the catalogue of Lizzie material points to a leveling process in 1985 just as the borders between art and science were to be leveled so too were pop culture and high culture glamour and content to be united the old tool of a catalogue who is now sold in disposable packaging the crisscrossing movement of the contents cannot be better some rised knowledge since the 1980s is allowed to shine thank you

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