Grand Opening Reception – an exhibition project at Neuer Aachener Kunstverein
In a time when urbanisation and creativity have become inseparably entangled and cities increasingly understand themselves as ‘brands,’ local artistic production and prestigious architectural projects have emerged as magical formulas for property appreciation and revitalisation. The general perception of cities’ identities is primarily determined by large scale cultural events, like globally conceived biennials or exhibitions in art institutions, generating conversations which reach well beyond regional boundaries.
In order to assert themselves in this sort of attention economy, cities’ marketing experts and art institutions have increasingly come to apply event-oriented strategies. As temporary, community-building gatherings, events break free of routine through an aesthetically and emotionally condensed period of time and thus ensure ideal moments of self-actualisation with minimal commitment. Today, the desire for entertaining experiences is increasingly being satisfied with exhibitions and event programs, which transform the reception of art into an unforgettable procession of aesthetic experiences and simultaneously furnish said reception with a certain theatrical utility. Here, the dissimilarities to canonically commercialised entertainment spectacles have become increasingly small. One’s perception of a location can become considerably influenced by these practices and perhaps even distorted by their media presence. This increased reliance on intimacy and spatiotemporal specificity has a reciprocal and somewhat paradoxical relationship to the mass circulation of events online.
The public must no longer simply be present, but rather generate itself across distances, dispersed around the world. The circulating image ultimately serves as a projection surface for longing dreams of participation.
What effects do these moments have on an art institution’s real location, when local contexts increasingly function merely as backdrops for far reaching media coverage?
Can the exhibition as experience, in which often transient forms of group practice border on amusement, still be reconciled with a self-formulated desire for critical discourse?
Which contradictions have thus been incorporated into the presentation of art?
Does the self-reflexive approach ultimately emerge as an instrument of self legitimation for the purposes of self-marketing?
The exhibition project Grand Opening Reception, curated by *Elisa R. Linn and Lennart Wolff, assembles a selection of international artists at the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein who are devoted to examining their own position and the roles of institutional exhibition spaces in constructing urban identity and its subsequent aestheticisation and commercialisation. Both artists and institutions, consciously or not, revitalise their surroundings, eventually making them attractive for businesses and capital. Here, a critically, self-aware attitude finds itself in stark contrast to its effects on local and structural levels. While art’s somewhat exalted voices and discourses often decry social and economic abuses, they simultaneously become value appreciating factors in a region which will sooner or later lead to socio-spatial displacement.
Artists: Peter Friedl, Dena Yago, Stewart Uoo, Christian Von Borries, George Rippon, Renaud Jerez, Carey Young, Julien Ceccaldi, Kaspar Müller, Cooper Jacoby
The exhibition architecture, developed in collaboration with the Kuwaiti architect **Aziz Al Qatami, draws on functional and decorative elements borrowed from the event economies of culture, politics and business. A display composed of bar tables offers a framework for the works of Renaud Jerez, Kaspar Müller, George Rippon, Julien Ceccaldi and others, which were, in part, especially designed for it. Simultaneously, it also functions as practical infrastructure for a collectively experienceable event during the opening and duration of the show.
*The project km temporaer was initiated by curators Elisa R. Linn and Lennart Wolff and investigates the potential of thematic group exhibitions through ever changing formats. Every exhibition is developed in collaboration with a third party (curator, artist, journalist, poet, architect etc.) and at different locations, taking the specific conditions of each site into consideration.
**Aziz Al Qatami is an architect and artist, who lives in Kuwait City. He is the founder of the architecture firm Atelier Aziz Alqatami, and also a member of the artist collective GCC.
Neuer Aachener Kunstverein – Passstrasse 29, Aachen
18 July – 13 September 2015