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Talking Pictures , Text, Theatricality and Timing in Contemporary Art
Group Exhibition K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Duesseldorf, Germany
Date: 08.18, 2007 - 11.04, 2007

Artists: YANG Fudong 杨福东 | 

Talking Pictures is an exhibition of art works in which literary texts, scenic images and theatrical methods merge into dramatic stagings. The exhibition will take place in the large space of the basement of K21 (1100 m2).

A selection of internationally outstanding positions in contemporary art will be shown. The common aim of these positions is to create stage-like concepts of expression and reality.  First and foremost, this applies to the field of film and video installation. The invited artists are (list of artists might be subject to changes):
Victor Alimpiev (born in 1973 in Moscow, living in Moscow), Keren Cytter (born in 1977 in Tel Aviv, living in Berlin), Danica Dakic (born in 1962 in Sarajevo, living in Düsseldorf), Yang Fudong (Born in 1971 in Peking, living in Shanghai), Catherine Sullivan (born in 1968 in Los Angeles, living in Chicago), Markus Schinwald (born in 1973 in Salzburg, living in Vienna), Mathilde ter Heijne ( born in 1969 in Strasbourg, living in Berlin), Ana Torfs ( born in 1963 in Mortsel, living in Brussels), T.J. Wilcox (born in 1965 in Seattle, WA, living in New York) and Gillian Wearing (Born in 1963 in Birmingham, living in London).

Currently several works in contemporary art from very different places are expressing a strong interest in theatre-related topics and methods of expression. Today, 40 years after the unfavourable yet effective comments made by the American art critic Michael Fried on the significance of theatricality regarding fine art, this medium’s captivating live qualities, its histrionic methods of presentation which reach from artificiality to affectedness, its sometimes clumsy techniques of illusion and its special, perhaps dramatic approach to literary texts seem to have an inspiring effect. This, at any rate, is the tendency that currently comes across in numerous room-filling film and video works. They no longer refer to great Hollywood epics but to the traditional medium theatre with its rather old-fashioned effects, its explicit concreteness and cumbersomeness. At the same time, decidedly hybrid formats are generating a mixture of film and theatre. Therefore, the exhibition’s title does not merely allude to the old tradition of speaking pictures as described in Horace’s Ut-Pictura-Poesis. TALKING PICTURES also contains a significant reference to sound films. After the age of silent movies with their gesticulating and miming, this new medium developed a specific understanding of dramatic expression based on European textual theatre.

In spite of the very different artistic approaches, the collected works in TALKING PICTURES share mutual theatrical and performance tendencies and above all, a common desire to present texts of a literary structure. A great variety of word and image combinations appeal directly to the spectator. In many cases music and sound enhance the atmospherically compact mood of the works. At the beginning of the 21st century, the calculated choice of historical subjects, materials and styles, and the integration of vocabulary from modern theatre tradition (from Meyerhold to Stanislawski, to Brecht and others) lead to topical expressions of identity structures, authenticity and representation. Subsequently, the relationship between the individual and society is re-established with ever-changing narrative methods as is the tradition in theatre.

In the same way in which time-honoured theatre has taken over from film as a source of artistic inspiration, the Black Box has also become less significant as a standard presentation format for movies and videos. In many cases distinctive, more open and spatial projection situations were developed in connection with the exhibited film- and video works. Further objects such as sculptures, photographs, works of paper and other items were added. Apart from these room-filling film and video installations with their almost set-like arrangements, video tapes with  examples from the topical and virulent field of video poetry, can be observed on monitors in the exhibition.

Curator: Doris Krystof
Assistant to the Curator: Barbara J. Scheuermann


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