tisdag 19 mars 2013

The Collector - exhibition 2012 - ENGLISH

An Exhibition on Artists and Collecting
20 October – 25 November 2012

Magnus Bärtås
Ditte Ejlerskov
Annika Eriksson
Jårg Geismar
Oscar Guermouche
Hyun-Jin Kwak
Charles LaBelle
Matts Leiderstam
EvaMarie Lindahl.

Items from ”Wunderkammer Olbricht”, normally on permanent display in the ”me Collectors Room”, in Berlin, and the Augsburg Art Cabinet, Gustavianum in Uppsala.

Uppsala Art Museum proudly presents a unique exhibition that focuses on collecting and the driving force behind it. This is a theme in which the self-image of museums and the practice of contemporary artists come together all the more often. There is a tendency right now to process and reflect upon the human practice of systematic gathering over the centuries. This is about collecting as a phenomenon of social practice, the gathering and collecting by individuals and the nature of the collector, as well as the importance of systems and archives in societies, collectives and institutions.

The Collector is a collection in itself where preparation for the exhibition has consisted of gathering interesting artists and systematizing works and objects based on content and expression in a group exhibition. We have invited contemporary artists to participate and to present and create works that deal with the subject in an in-depth manner, and have borrowed unique items from famous curiosity cabinets. From ”Wunderkammer Olbricht”, on permanent display in the ”me Collectors Room” in Berlin, we present curiosity objects from the 1600s. The vanitas theme dominates among the pieces, with life and death depicted in small, decorative objects. Thomas Olbricht’s collection is widely considered one of the best of its kind in the world with art works and curiosity objects from the 1500s to the present. The collection is based on the subjective choices of a passionate collector with a focus on an era when collecting was seen as a symbol of status and honour. The 1600s was the century of collecting, and to this day, collections from that era constitute vital sources of knowledge regarding cultural history throughout the world. The ”Augsburg Art Cabinet” from the same era, has had its home in Uppsala since the 30 years war, and parts of it have long been on permanent display at Museum Gustavianum. For the exhibition The Collector we have borrowed exquisite, small curiosity objects from the cabinet that have been in storage in the University, some of which have never been shown before.

We are also thrilled to present brand new contemporary art works in this exhibition. Matts Leiderstam is a well-renowned artist who has, in his work, long conducted profound analysis of art historical museum collections in Sweden, Germany and other places. Here he has focused his attention on Uppsala University’s extensive and magnificent collection of European painting primarily from a period spanning the 16 to 1800s.  His new piece, “Unknown Unknown” deals with an interesting discovery he made regarding the University’s portrait collection: included in the collection are namely numerous portraits of anonymous individuals by entirely unknown artists. What value do unknown persons have in a historic portrait collection? To what extent are they of interest to posterity? Ditte Ejlerskov collects art historical styles and expressions. She repaints them and transforms them into practical and aesthetic study objects. How has the same recurring motif been dealt with throughout art history? Here we present her painting suite from 2011 entitled ”The Hand that Brushed”, with expressive hands from historical paintings that have in turn been repainted by artists. This is a reproductive process that, oddly enough, both renders history closer and more distant at the same time. Jårg Geismar from Düsseldorf will create a work on location and, in doing so, help the museum to acquire a collection of “no longer usable” keys. For the past couple of months, museum visitors have had the opportunity to donate keys to the piece. Each donor has signed a donation book. Every key bears a story of its own, and during the exhibition, the artist will install them in a new presentation, where they will be ordered and structured.

Several works deal with the psychological undertones of collecting and gathering as an expression of a behavioural pattern that has gone a little too far, that is on the verge of becoming a mania, perhaps even edging on insanity. Magnus Bärtås has collected ”gifts” that he has received without asking for them over a period of several years. The fact that he has actually kept them is as interesting as why he received them in the first place. Here he presents parts of his large collection of “gifts” in the form of an installation created specifically for this exhibition. Hyun Jin Kwak has over the course of two years documented, photographed and filmed an impressive Renaissance palace in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Besides allowing the palace to deteriorate at an alarming pace, the man living there has filled it from floor to ceiling with things he considers might come in handy at some point. On loan from Moderna Museet is Annika Eriksson’s piece, ”12 Parcels from My Mother”. Ever since the artist left her childhood home, her mother has routinely sent her parcels containing items she felt her daughter might need in her new, independent everyday life. Her daughter, the artist Annika Eriksson, chose not to open the packages but instead let them remain stored and unopened in her home. All the packages and their contents are now on display here.
The American artist Charles LaBelle has always had a phobia of entering large buildings. As a means of coping with this, he has scrutinized in detail every building he has entered since 1997. He has measured them, photographed them and annotated the date, time and location in a register. He has also drawn the entrance of every building in his book. To date he has completed over 15 000 drawings, 300 of which are presented here. A series of drawings by Eva Marie Lindahl depict a phenomenon that has long fascinated her. In the USA there is a movement that studies and collects barbed wire. The group even publishes a magazine on barbed wire and its history. With this piece, the artist illustrates how something so trivial and simple as a wire can be so politically charged. Similarly, Oscar Guermouche’s piece 50 from 2003, although seemingly trivial and simple also possesses an intensive charge. It has been exhibited previously on several occasions, most recently in the exhibition ”Lust and Vice” at the National Museum in Stockholm. The piece consists of 50 small strands of hair and 50 cards in a card index. The hairs represent every woman with whom he has had an intimate sexual relationship.

The writer and avid collector (former fly collector) Fredrik Sjöberg has written a customized text specifically for the exhibition. Fredrik Sjöberg has, among other things, written the trilogy Flugfällan, Flyktkonsten och Russinkungen (The Fly Trap, The Art of Escape and The Raisin King) and just recently Varför håller man på? (Why do We Bother?). He will recite his newly written text, The Seven Deadly Sins, at the opening of The Collector thereby presenting us, perhaps, with entirely new insights into the true nature of the collector.

Elisabeth Fagerstedt
Museum director and curator

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