Rev., May 12, 2018.
FUSION byline. FUSION byline considers unconnected affinities between art world and culture at large cultural forms. This is an informal part two of a previous note on Kurz. All art pics from WF care of CAD.
Disclaimer: I did not see this exhibition in person, this is a POV review of it as it relates to my current interests only and not reflective of the artist’s intentions.
My interest in the work of Veit Laurent Kurz is known, especially his overseeing a group of exhibitions over the past two years which I have analyzed as offering an out to the current dilemma of contemporary art. But, now, in Basel, in time for the fair, comes a one person show, where he has to show if he has learned anything from his collaborative work and its insights, and, the answer would appear to be, yes. This is a very good idea, and, I think, the first exhibition in which he has entirely internalized the ideas of the group installations into his own work, and then taken them further. As you know, to start, I have always liked his drawings of a world to be run by vampires, it is a counter world, that somehow took root in a crawlspace apart from the real, he has a few here, to ground things, or connect them to the sequel, to at the very least declare that this one-person show is the first to be conceived as a spinoff of the group shows
but the interesting thing is, in this work,
he seems to depict his world, but, then, in it, something has gone wrong, it seems that blood, perhaps kept in pipes to supply the vampire population (to continue the fiction) has spilled, or is overflowing, something bad is happening, that is, this is his counterworld, but now it is negating. Here is a better example
this shows some sort of arrangement of forms, reminiscent of a park, but maybe an industrial one, where what setup might’ve been used to transport blood, now is spilling out blood, and the whole thing is taking over. Two things here. One, the idea of an alien presence in a factory sort of place outside of town, threatening town life and its pieties, is the very oldest of sci fi ideas that I have taken in, from the movie Quatermass 2, when I was a kid, in that movie, the blob being fed was in the dome
And then it was fed by the human prisoners being fed into the pipes, as feed for it, the horror
Then, too this theme was taken up in Soylent Green, so, it is well known trope, a system is set up, in some counter world, and then it begins to go bad. But this also has a spatial dimension. In the first Q movie, there was a strange trajectory. The alien form is taken into the system, but then escapes, mainly by getting power from incorporating into it, plant forms nearby, that is, he “consumes” the windowsill cactus, so his arm becomes more cactuslike. Then it hides out in outoftheway marginal or liminal spaces at the edge of the known world,
not unlike Ringo parading in AHDN (1964)
But then it passes through the neighborhoods adjacent to those less desirable places, it is noticed, and feared. A drunk woman, usually ignored, reports seeing a green meanie slime up the side of a building, this time, the cops pay attention (great touch!). But a nice “vision” of the outlying horrors of modern urban London
Then too it can pass through other attractions that have been set up in less than opportune spacec in the culture, like zoos, and thus kill all the animals
But, then, only after all that, come back in to the center, to attack, right here in Westminster Cathedral
So, by having his silos as part of the world of his drawings overflow with blood VLK is not only positing a negative out of controlness, but he is moving the mind of the viewer observing his counter world from inside domestic or village space as conveyed in the squatting nature of the group shows, out to more outlying spaces, where things can run wilder, where bodies are buried or dumped, where evil happens. So, this is a counter world, negated, then, itself, countering.
This, by itself, is a strong move, and a step up in terms of his “vision” of the outofcontrolness of the world. And that is the second point, and, which, surprisingly, makes VLK’s art more in line with my thinking in the past year. He has let his world drain away into the “green slime.” I have written about the green slime in the movie of that name, but, then, it became, for me, a kind of symbol of the utter irrational nature of charge-countercharge which as entirely ungrounded public debate in a poison partisan era from arguable or meaningful points, to turn it all into a pingpong mush of traded barbs. Any time the prez deflects the truth and then somehow wraps it up by double down and contradiction and then response to that and etc etc so that finally one does not know what is up or down….that is the green slime. But so is any overmoralistic response in outrage to that, or getting into a state of outrage based on something merely said the green slime. We had a lot of green slime this past week, when Giuliani got involved in helping DT but only seemed to emit green slime from his mouth. And then since his misdirections seemed to work in murkying up the waters of the entire debate that was more green slime. Then green slime is the verbiage that trolls emit, it is the only kind of utterance they can emit. Takedown heros are entirely supported by green slime motives. In all cases, it would seem, the trolls conTROLL the conversation.
In both ways, VLK’s movement from straight on depiction of life in vampire land, to documenting some problems which are developing in it, is a good move, it resonates, strongly, on the moment. But, then, another good step, VLK decided that he had to move from drawing to color, and so he has in a few terrific Windows works, giving us a full panorama of the catastrophe in vampire land (with a lot of green slime! Also a bog like terrain which speaks to the Black Bog light hypnagogy state)
in these larger works, we see the edge of town
but then are lead off into a meandering maze land of deeply polluted green water moving through a parched landscape
this one, Windows 1 even shows one of the fachwerk houses, speaking to the haunted village aspect of the town, the fact that it has, in fact, stripped back art to a pure apotropaic charm state, we are now let to open the window, and see out the window, and see what they are afraid of, and it is ecological disaster coming in on them
some of the new paintings (but really large colored drawings) show us that the town is being made over by the pollution, accomodating a new reality (somehow this all reminds me of Antonioni’s Red Desert
another good one, Windows 4
and my favorite, because entirely overflowing, Windows 3
so, this is all positive, it shows a movement of vision from the counter, to a consideration of the counter going negative, thus showing us something negative in its world. But, then, there is a third point. VLK decided to present all these as views out of a window. In a video he explains that they all resulted from him sitting in a small apartment and imagining the world without as if through the window of a large sheet of paper. That is, he has turned away from the world, to envision the world, classic countering behavior. No doubt too, he turned his left shoulder away from the world, and in this found a magic crawlspace in which to create art. I am not entirely convinced by the way that he found to represent the windows, but, the idea of the painting being a window into a nonreality, a dream reality, to reimagine reality, is an important point, and had to be made about his work. It acts here as a kind of lattice form to declare to us, what you are seeing, you are seeing, but it is through the eyes of the character who made these. He is not claiming more than that, but that at least. But, then, there is another aspect. In a few cases, he created a window ledge, and put things on it, including flowers
and a kind of soda, with flowers in it too, perhaps a comment on the idiocy of thinking drinking a certain type of healthy looking soft drink contributes to the betterment of the ecology of the world (the gap between domestic solution and worldscale problem), but the general idea certainly being that from a safe vantage point in one’s house one is looking out upon a catastrophe what one can hardly imagine, it is a nightmare, but we are still ok. This is a theme that Tarkowsky worked with,
derived, possibly, from the whole idea of the “parochial holocaust” developed in British horror in the late 50s, but it also, oddly, relates to the dream windows of the Wizard of Oz,
again, reinforcing for us that we are looking at a vision of the world rendered as a counter world by an artist who has turned his back on the world, to see it more clearly.
This reinforces the countering, then, is all that I will say.
But, then, there is ANOTHER twist. And that is that. Just as he did with the fachwerk structures in the group shows, having set up his counterspace, VLK must swing it round by reverse engineering to make that counter space real. So, having made the frontier images of ecological disaster in his vampire world, that is, negate the countering, he then reverses that back into the town, to imagine, what will, in fact, the town look like, after it adjusts (also a strong sci fi theme, in fact, one of the most cogent). These, in fact, are my favorite pieces in a show I already up to this point like a lot, but this
is the best piece in the show, showing, as it were, a redesigned vampire world in which the pollution has now been incorporated by reverse engineering into a new colorful reality where all the pavements are red, perhaps even paved in blood, where the lagoon is green, and moonlit, to make it all seem romantic, there is a lot here to absorb, the trees with red leaves, the pipes, the vampire face front of a building in the rear,
then, in another twist, what would the ‘art’ be like if, in this haunted village, where ‘art’ is dead and there is only visualizations of devotions, intercessions, votives and fears, where all is reduced to primitive ritual, and primitive feeling, what would the art on the motel in this world look like, VLK has an idea for that too
and these can almost be seen as dengerate genre paintings, or legend pictures, with very rudimentary agentic purpose, in a green slime world run amok where crime scene photos turn into motel room paintings (I don’t know what the particular whimsy critique involving the particular soda is in VLK, but I think it must be, as noted, a symbol of useless domestic-level protest, in a world where the battle is already lost; that is, the COCA COLA critique, but it’s way worse than that)
and then, having set up his world, by countering, and negating, and reversing, inside the window of the drawings, all of these steps taking us further in from his group installations, he decides, since he is VLK, he can’t show any of this outside the context of an installation that situates them properly in the universe, and so swings back round through the material to pop it out by actual reverse engineering, and ostension, as trolls have stepped out of online life into reality in the past six months, into the real space of the gallery, this appearance, this epiphany, another step, is the final step, almost.
I am not convinced in Home Where There is No Home VLK needed to self represent himself again as the viewer, the one whose POV is the guiding Mercurial force here, it might be that the Windows concept did enough of that, and this is reundant, but, maybe not, in my thinking there are all sorts of scarecrow, psychopomp, and trophy figures, abstractions of man which represents dream moments and thresholds, but maybe this is an apparatchnik ghost, VLK represented as the disembodied zombie who lives like the last man on earth or any of those situations in sci fi to make sense of the world (that is, my interest in dream guide figures all involve agentic personages encountered at thresholds in the passage, but the scaffold of rationalization of the system also creates scarecrow figures, objectified human beings, and maybe this represents that). But, at present, I will not address this mannikin aspect of this show. But the real point here is that the odd loop forms in the drawings have now come out into life as sculptural forms. In the drawings they seem to derive from blood dripping, stylized examples of a natural form, a dripping. Then, in a few other drawings, as things countered again to try to imagine how vampire world would respond by making itself over and adjusting to the new normal the form seemed to mestatasize into a playground, or paritition form, part of living in the town. They seem here in the gallery to act almost in form like Haring sculpture, but functionally as desk-backs or cubicle partitions, to separate space, to create islands of interest, from which the POV of the artist can be contacted. Here, drawing table, inside the countered world of the drawings
then a large partition, leading you in
and back in the gallery another kiosk form, with the form, and another table in a space age Forbidden Planet form, and then some business with insight or research into the horror got, like in a horror movie, from drawings, from the internet, or even from an old video
and then there is a third one, a more marginal, wall-oriented one, almost like an information kiosk in a doctor’s office, very strange, then, too the painting skied over it, to signal that art really has, in this space, been pushed to the side, just like in a doctor’s office
(I cannot help but notice that in the above shot the Windows painting is skied as if to situate it where the basement window of the world is, relative to the location, not unlike in The Blob, and thousands of other movies)the small details of which I cannot at present, or ever, since I will not see this in life, work out, but, again, these kiosks is where the drawings are done, they say in form, in situation vis a vis the drawings, and in setting in the gallery
then it even keeps going back into the office (this is, now triggering on my recent visit to AMI Imaging in Lincoln, where you wander hallways to various imaging rooms, and I sat outside a room with RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS on the door, a Van Gogh across the way
and, of course, once you are drifting through a counter world, or rather, a counter world negated, then countered again, THEN reversed by ostension back into “reality” this switch of color and format, to the vertical, can, indeed, make of this painting, the “Van Gogh of my world of painting” (But the reason the kiosk is near by is that he had to create the “office” space in the intallational island-moment, perhaps I will call this a “trap,” in order for one to bounce off that and see the picture set next to it, for it, to be read correctly as a “Van Gogh” that is palliative painting
I mean, I can link this up to my musing on Van Gogh’s blue Daffodils last week in a medical context
A word about painting in office spaces. In a doctor’s office, or, really, beyond that, in the ever-widening labyrinth of medical care, an imaging clinic, the main business is imaging, and of a diagnostic story. Though, of course, diagnosis can lead to alleviation of suffering, and therefore has agency, diagnosis itself does not, it is modern rationalization, though a necessary one. But, then, it is odd that in the context of imaging made use of to diagnose disorders, the visual art on the walls is entirely depleted to ersatz state, and that Van Gogh shows up. This is art depleted down to simply existing, even lower than TV allowing one to pass the time, to just rest the eyes on, art as respite from the stress of the activities of the center all around one.
but the thing is, when the art is depleted in such a way, one does not, really, take this in as a Van Gogh, one can, but I did not, since I was not getting what I wanted, which was to be done with this, I impatiently began to “see things” in the Irises that I had not before, this partly linked to my recent analysis of painting in American in Paris, I saw Van Gogh’s self portrait in the white plant on the upper left, then said that he was peeping on a couple, bottom, left of center, making love in the reeds, and, then, he was caught out by a bunch of ladies of the town, the blue irises, upper right, all making faces, with their bonnets, and that was the new meaning of the painting. That is, a projection of my thinking about metoo or whatever, and having nothing to do with the art, a projection onto the art, because the art was made depleted by being reproduced and shown in this way. And then, it got worse.
And it got worse because there were OTHER Van Goghs situated in the corridor, for all the busy orderlies or apparatchniks to pass by
meaning that this was not one spot where an attempt to create a sense of calm was made, but part of an ongoing spatial campaign down an entire corridor to calm things down, through vacuous visuals. But, then, things got even worse, because in this center, the maze concept of hosptial space was attenuated to new degrees of obtuseness. Not only were there endless turns of hallways, but art was placed at every turn, to make believe that you were getting somewhere
but, for the most part, you weren’t really, as I had not seen before, this center had tiers of waiting areas, as if by degree, there was the first waiting area I was taken too, which was freezing, and torturing by way of a terrible homebuying show on the mandatory TV, almost drove me crazy
but then someone comes to get you there, and they lead you down another corridor, to another waiting area, where you wait there, for the next person to come get you. And, the thing is, though in actual fact you are being lead into the system, so there is a slight intercessional vibe, as guides take you in, the whole arrangement of the tv and art distractions, and the design of the space was meant to make it all seem modular, that is, as if you were stuck on an escalator going the wrong way, you get up from one place to go to another, and it is exactly like the other, and so on one level you have not moved at all. This palliative erasure of time and space is, of course, one of the mainstays of deep bureaucratic space, and, I think, it is the kind of thing that VLK is more likely to analyze than other artists (for example, I have in other posts mentioned the progression of some installations from a place-here to a Far Place where a work of art of some greater import in terms of meaning or cult was placed, I think it more likely that while there is a vibe of that here, VLK is really more in tune to the fact that, somehow, in the modern world, that agency cannot be got back, so he works with it inside the spiderweb of rationalization, meaning that it flips over from being an agency-restoration critique of the white cube to a motel painting critique of the meaning of art (though, again, in office situations, paintings lack, for the most part, the meaning they have in horror movies). Thus, at the end of the line, I do not think one arrives at, in VLK’s work, a Far Place, where this painting has cult meaning, I think one arrives somewhere in the maze, but in a state of not being clear where, and this work presents itself as the “Van Gogh,” relative to other works in the exhibition, to your situation, but of uncertain import, does one at last discover art in the labyrinth, or just go down the drain of depletion with it?
Who knows, perhaps VLK’s seemingly extra space-fill toss in ideas, this one of snails, speaks to the time element spent in such entropic spaces, but, really, the spaces of the bureaucracy of life
This is what the press release talks about, it is not about art, it is about people, and feeling, and what we feel in this world of ours
and then on the previous exhibitions, note comments on cardboard, which drew me to VLK
for all of this, and it looks so much like a “normal” exhibition of contemporary art, you would not think that when you enter into this exhibition you not only enter into VLK’s world of drawings, his counter world, but skip past the reverse world he developed for other artists to squat in with those cardboard exhibitions, but, then, you are witnessing 1) his counter world negate, things getting worse, going down thr drain, but, then, you are thinking, what if we have to get used to this? what will the new normal look like? 2) that is here too, and the best work in the show, and, then, you are in that world, and, imagine, 3) what might paintings in the motels in that world look like, and he gives you a few of those, as if in passing, and then you 4) come OUT of the drawings, thrice removed from reality, back OUT into the reallity of the gallery to partake of his life in his aparment in the gallery to imagine his posture in life, and art’s purpose in life, as not much different that a prospective patient sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, waiting, and looking at an ersatz Van Gogh (this a variation of motel room painting). While it might be a bit off in some of this, I do not think I have misread the general contours of the map of VLK’s afterworld, the world after, that we always dwell upon, his apocalyptic world, the world after the vampires have taken over, and then in that we try to make a go of it (no doubt to also, like every other society, fail). For all of this, this, so far, for bringing in countering, then reversing it, for THEN upping his game to fullscale color, for THEN pushing the countering a second time, THEN for being able to keep track of his twists of mind to actually, successfullly figure out how to THEN ostense into reality by reverse engineering his countered counter-negated drawings, for the green slime, for all that, this is my favorite show of the year on our failing planet earth.
My comments on “imaging center” art on my FB page, plus my post on VLK on my FB page. March, 2018.