Ocular Feelings is the title of the temporary presentation at the Neues Museum Nuremberg. The art collectors Kerstin Hiller and Helmut Schmelzer have accumulated a collection of outstanding works by important artists that are presented at the Neues Museum Nuremberg as permanent loan. Partially the works have been purchased by the collector couple specifically for certain rooms of the museum and presented in the upper floor successively since the beginning of 2017. On 23.11.2017 the complete ensemble has been presented in public for the first time.The title of the presentation Ocular Feelings was adopted from Austrian writer Friederike Mayroecker and is a poetic metaphor for the collecting passion of Kerstin Hiller and Helmut Schmelzer, a synthesis of thinking, seeing, feeling.
Alighiero Boetti’s art is equally rooted in philosophy, religion and natural science and is based on linguistic and mathematical systems. “The greatest pleasure in the world is to invent the world as it is, without inventing something in doing so.“ explains Boetti. His work Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa consists of 100 square fields that are arranged in a numerical progression on a kilim carpet. The fields in turn are composed of 10 by 10 squares, with black on white and white on black alternating until the area is filled except for the last field which is white only. It symbolizes the number 100. The calculation also works in the opposite direction, as indicated in the title, until the number one in the diagonally opposite corner is reached. In accordance with the principle of random the elements are arranged arbitrarily which obscures the progression visually. This dualism corresponds to Boetti’s world view according to which things are born from necessity and coincidence.
His work I sei seni (The Six Senses) consists of 11 large-size panels that are entirely covered by ballpoint pen hatching. In Boetti’s view the author doesn’t need to be the executor of the work, that’s why he made his ballpoint pen pictures executed by students, alternating by men and women to “give birth to the world“ in a symbolic act of procreation. For Boetti also the time aspect was important, “the ballpoint pen drawings are concentrates of time, to me they impart physically the impression of elongated, enormous time…“. In the hatching white commas are spared that result in six words when they are assigned to an alphabet on the first picture: the words of the five senses as well as the word “thinking“.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa / I sei seni
American artist Allan McCollum is dealing with questions that are critical of the system to challenge the viewer’s expectations in art. He was influenced by the writings of the Fluxus artists and followers of concept art such as Daniel Buren and Sol LeWitt. “I have the impression that today’s art keeps the people at a distance, that it erects and establishes class barriers, and that it fosters elitism and inequality through a cult of taste“, declared McCollum in an interview in 1985.
His Shapes Project he started in 2005, it consists of 300 form components which generate 31 billion individual forms in combination which is enough to allocate one unique form to any human being living on the planet also in the future. A spinoff of this project are 72 wooden axially symmetric bodies turned by hand which were created between 2005 and 2016. The wooden bodies unfold an enigmatic morphology that is oscillating between spinner and spindle. By means of rapid prototyping or CNC milling the bodies are also realized in different materials, sizes and colours such as plastic, metal or stone.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Allan McCollum, Shapes Project
Arte Povera, the art of recycling at the Neues Museum Nuernberg.
Michelangelo Pistoletto is a representative of the Arte Povera movement who preferred using “poor“ materials. Another characteristic feature of his works is the mirror effect Pistoletto uses to work with since the 1960s. For him reality and illusion meet on the surface of the mirror as a metaphor for a place of metamorphosis into a different world. However, Pistoletto doesn’t intend to conjure up imaginary worlds by means of his mirror works, but to get to the bottom of the contradictions of social reality.
Pistoletto’s work Metamorfosi alludes to the transformation of the displayed material. A heap of rags and ditched garments is cut vertically by two mirrors, with the two halves seemingly complementing one another. However, one side is multicolored, whereas the other side is white which makes the heap disintegrating into two parts that appear as a whole only through the doubling. The clash of reality and illusion makes the whole appear divided and the divided appear whole. Just like the mirror also the rags represent transition for Pistoletto, as they stand for the opposite of consumer society as consumed objects. They are at the end of a process from where they will be recycled again in a never-ending cycle. The metamorphosis of the textile material is also reflected in the fact that it serves as raw material of paper. In the past ragpickers were roaming through the villages in order to sell the collected raw material to paper mills which processed the rags into paper.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Metaforfosi
Michael E. Smith combines austere object art with social criticism in his works. In order to accentuate his objects dramuturgically and aesthetically he made the room where his works are displayed submerged in dimmed light. According to the principle “less is more“ he tries to take minimalism to extremes in order to attract the viewer’s attention through the spatial impact of the objects that are spread in the room. Globefish are arranged on the floor in a row blocking the visitor’s way who is forced to go round the fragile taxidermised animals.
Corresponding exactly to the pattern of the floor plates the 15 globefish are lying strictly lined up, apparently the row is continuing endlessly from a perspective view. Smith has the taxidermised globefish cut on both sides to be able to present them like inflated balloons. From the direction of the façade daylight enters to illuminate the inflated shells like lampions. The taxidermist has frozen the fish in exactly the characteristic moment when they blow up to signal ultimate defence readiness by erecting their stings. A mixture of fear and aggression, threat and menacing posture emanates from this macabre procession that has obviously no beginning and no end. Inner hollowness and outer arming reflect the current condition of many individuals and social classes in and outside the USA. The title of the entire room with other objects is And Babies which refers to an interview with Vietnam veteran Paul Meadlo in which he admits to have shot even babies during a massacre of vietnamese civilians.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Michael E. Smith, And Babies
Ocular Feelings are an invitation to turn thinking upside down.
As far as possible is a four-part ensemble by Rosemarie Trockel that was created in 2012 for an exhibition at the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen. A clinically white tiled room is illuminated by dazzling cold light and elicits associations of a surgery room or a butcher shop, maybe also an interrogation room. The single objects of a composition that are found there, a palm tree, a birdcage and a ceramic basin refer to the interior of the late Baroque Palace of Morsbroich. In this context Rosemarie Trockel is dealing with the subjects of nature and culture as well as social descent and exertion of power. At the same time the palm tree symbolizes the rise of colonialism in the feudal states which resulted in political upheavals in the 19th century that last until today. The palm tree turned upside down is an invitation to the western civilization to change their perspective.
The birdcage symbolizes the final subjugation of nature under the rule of mankind who accept the reckless destruction of nature in their striving for power. Three taxidermised birds in a cage are moved by hidden mechanics that remind of the automatons in animal and human shape that were popular in the 18th century as a symbol of the triumph of human inventive genius over nature. On a wall there is a reproduction of a painting by Gustave Courbet, L’Origine du monde (Origin of the World), that displays the uncovered genitals of a woman. But the pudenda are concealed by a huge tarantula that wards off the male gaze of desire. Thus Trockel who suffers from arachnophobia aggressively reverses the meaning of the painting by Courbet from 1866. Also in mythology the spider is female, in Louise Bourgeois’ works it symbolizes the figure of the mother, from this point of view Trockel’s interpretation of Courbet’s painting points beyond a purely sexual connotation to the maternal principle of birthing.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Rosemarie Trockel, As far as possible
Franz Erhard Walther is a representative of artists who endeavoured to take sculpture from its pedestal und to make it become part of a performance. The performative act turns the passive viewer into an active participant who becomes part of a plot under the direction of the artist which could be called a “sculptural modelling“, “time proportioning“ or “physical space definition“. Already at the end of the 1950s Walther was in search of new forms of work that were characterized by performing ideas. “I also wanted to combine sculptural work with specific actions. Traditional sculptures couldn’t offer this.“ In 2017 Franz Erhard Walther was awarded the Golden Lion as best artist at the Venice Biennale.
In 1963 he discovered textiles as an ideal medium to express the radical approach of his works. “A historically fresh form of work. (…) I could push forward to new frontiers. Now forms and formats were possible that related to the whole body and expanded into space as well.“ Some of Walther’s works have the function of garment such as half a coat or two stiff sleeves that enable specific body experiences. Other textile objects in turn establish community as they can be worn by several persons at the same time and be unfolded in doing so. Three users are connected with each other through two long tubular shapes, when their hands are touching in the inside of the object, whereas other textile bodies offer the opportunity to use them as hideout.
Neues Museum Nuremberg – Ocular Feelings, Franz Erhard Walther, Nuremberg Space
24.11.17 – Spring 2018 Neues Museum, Nuremberg