THE RECOVERY OF DISCOVERY
March 27 – May 22, 2011
Opening: Saturday, March 26, 17 - 2 h
Artforum selected the exhibition amongst the "Best of 2011".
"Now to the main point! How do we get everything to Berlin?"
Carl Humann, September 1878
Preserving a monument goes hand in hand with destroying it. In order to preserve architecture, cultural monuments and relics, they are often re-located, thus abolishing the original context. The dislocation of a monument does not only alter the history of its original location, but also leads to a radical re-interpretation of the monument itself. So, the history of the Pergamon Altar's reception in Germany ranges from monarchistic to monarchic-colonialist, fascist, communist and even into nationalist movements.
The spectrum of appropriations reflects the respective attitudes towards archaeology and the notion of discovery typical for different historical contexts and political systems. A discovery always goes along with its patronization; something, which the discovered never seems to be able to recover itself from again. Architectural elements of cultural monuments are often removed and dispersed separately all over the world. Hence, we currently find the ruins of the temples of Ephesus in the British Museum in London, in the Art Historical Museum in Vienna and in the Archaeological Museums of Selçuk, Izmir and Istanbul, as well as in Efes (Latin: Ephesus) itself.
In his work, Cyprien Gaillard repeatedly explores the absurd aspects of dystopic architectures and their remaining ruins through such strategies as dilapidation, destruction, demolition, preservation, conservation and reconstruction of architecture. In doing so he always departs from the process itself. For his exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin Cyprien Gaillard has created a new, large-scale piece, which – whilst departing from a prototype of the monument – completes itself in the process. Similarly to the relocation of the Pergamon Altar, 72,000 bottles of beer of the brand "Efes" have been transported from Turkey to Germany. The cardboard boxes filled with bottles form the even steps of the pyramid. By using the monument – by climbing the sculpture and drinking the beer – its destruction is already initiated.
The barbaric removal of single architectural elements that have been transported from their original location to Berlin, embodies both the concept of displacement and a tourist colonialism. Despite the geographic origin of alcohol often being of great importance to the consumer, the provenience seems to become more and more unimportant, as its consumption increases. Along the lines of the gradual destruction of the sculpture the alcohol gradually dispels and destroys both body and mind. The physical hangover is also an architectural one, from which one has to recover.
Equal to a collective amnesia in an active neglect of the sculptural form – lost in the hopeless interaction with the monument – the successive destruction becomes an aesthetic of resistance.
The exhibition is curated by Susanne Pfeffer.
With kind support by the Capital Cultural Fund, Berlin.