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Jackson Pollock Bar: Pictures at an Exhibition
For Summer 2013
Jackson Pollock Bar: Bilder einer Ausstellung / Pictures at an Exhibition
A proposal by Anne Schreiber
March 15 – April 20, 2014
Kunsthaus L6 – Municipal gallery for Contemporary Art, Freiburg, Germany
Since the 1990s, Jackson Pollock Bar has been producing performances called Theory Installations. Often collaborating with the British artist collective Art & Language, they examine the role of theory in the art world. These Theory Installations refer to discursive events such as conferences, talks, panel discussions, and press conferences. Their performance practice involves audio recordings of such discussions, reenacted and lip-synched by actors. Their Theory Installations are mostly presented during conferences and panel discussions. The exhibition Pictures at an Exhibition at Kunsthaus L6 in Freiburg will for the first time showcase their work within a classical exhibition setting. On this occasion, the exhibition will present documentation of a number of their performances next to several paintings and a novel that they produced.
In restaging discursive events, the work of Jackson Pollock Bar questions the role of theory in the contemporary art system. Their work can be understood in the tradition of artists and curators who integrate theory into their methodologies. In 1972 at documenta 5, Joseph Beuys invited the public to partake in discussions on art, where he expanded his participatory notion of art as social sculpture. In the course of documenta 5, these discussions with the public were meant as a critique on the art system. In the 1980s, Andrea Fraser cited these discursive events. By then, discursive events were no longer outside the institution but were an integral part of the art system, proven by their presence in leading art museums. At the same time, curators became increasingly influenced by discussions on art theory, inspiring conversations on curatorial practice. According to Harald Szeemann, discussions between the artist and the curator became part of the exhibition. Recently, in his Interview and Marathon projects, Hans Ulrich Obrist has merged art exhibitions and conversational programs, transforming curatorial and artistic roles to create a new understanding of the exhibition space.
Pictures at an Exhibition at Kunsthaus L6 refers to these latest developments. Yet instead of presenting a reenactment of a discursive event, the work of Jackson Pollock Bar is installed in the style of a classical exhibition. Prints from several of their performances are being presented as images in the exhibition space. They resemble film stills, and with their large size they relate in this way to the paintings. These paintings are produced in the style of the great masters of modern painting, such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. A wall text––presenting part of the novel written by the Jackson Pollock Bar––adds a third element to the exhibition. In presenting Theory Installations as images next to the paintings and the novel, the exhibition questions the role of art theory in contemporary art system, showing that discourse has become a work of art in itself.
1. Jackson Pollock Bar, Anna Wouters as visitor in ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ ‘Theory Installation,’ (The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2004) © Jackson Pollock Bar, directed by Christian Matthiessen
2. Jackson Pollock Bar, Martin Horn and Peter Cieslinski as Mel Ramsden and Michael Baldwin in ‘Art & Language Paints a Picture’ ‘Theory Installation,’ (Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, 1999) © Jackson Pollock Bar, directed by Christian Matthiessen
3. Jackson Pollock Bar, ‘Art & Language: We aimed to be Amateurs’ Installation view (documenta X, Kassel, 1997) © Jackson Pollock Bar, directed by Christian Matthiessen
4. Jackson Pollock Bar, Martin Horn and Peter Cieslinski as Mel Ramsden and Michael Baldwin in ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ ‘Theory Installation’ (The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2004) © Jackson Pollock Bar, directed by Christian Matthiessen
About the Curator
Anne Schreiber is a scholar of Literature, Philosophy, and Economics at Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany, and curated an exhibition at the university on net art to question the nature of new media art in relation to social and political phenomena. At de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Schreiber assisted with various curatorial projects focusing on art in the public realm, art as social practice, as well as art production and display under postmodern and postcolonial conditions. As the assistant to the director of Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany, she curated an exhibition on artist’s books, a lecture series on art as research practice, and a workshop on the work of international and local spaces. Recently, she was Curatorial Assistant at Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany, for a series of projects that dealt with conditions of exhibiting. Schreiber is currently developing an exhibition for the city of Freiburg, which focuses on the art discourse as a work of art itself, opening in 2014. She also writes for numerous publications such as artnet Magazine, Berliner Gazette, Der Tagesspiegel, De:Bug, Telepolis, and artline.