Jane and Louise Wilson



3 February – 18 May 02



Opening: 02.02.2002, 5 - 9 pm

Opening on February 3rd 2002 the KW Institute for Contemporary Art presents an exhibition with new works of the British sisters Jane & Louise Wilson, exploring the Russian space program. Highlights of the exhibition include the European debut showing of the video installation Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard and the film Dream Time, presented for the first time in Germany.

Jane and Louise Wilson's work has often centered on abandoned buildings, which are frequently still imbued with the presence and ideology of the original occupants. These buildings are places of a "Cold War" past, like the former Stasi prison Hohenschönhausen in former East Berlin, featured in the work Stasi City (made in 1997 during their stipendium with the D.A.A.D.). With their artistic-archeological method of representing architecture in complex video-installations, Jane & Louise Wilson create impressive anrdd captivating images of radical criticism. The juxtaposition, confrontation, synchronization and composition of the films act as heightened metaphors for the gestures of power and political background revealed within the architecture.

In their new work Jane & Louise Wilson explore the key sites of the Russian space program. The huge complexes like Star City in the North of Moscow or the Cosmodrome in Baikonur, stand in sharp contrast to the gloomy every-day-reality of socialism. They are architectural statements of power in which the dreams of the superpower culminated in the dream of conquering space. The sites stand like memorials for a perished utopian civilization.

The installation Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard is a pure exploration of architecture. Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard shows the Cosmodrome of Baikonur in the south of Kazakstan. It was from Baikonur that in 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man to be launched into space. The title of the work refers to the three launch sites that appear in the film. Proton, a military site, Unity (Soyuz), the site for manned missions to space, and Energy (Energia), which was designed to carry the Russian space shuttle Blizzard (Buran). The opening shots show the launch site of Energy and Blizzard, now abandoned for over ten years. The film then changes to the operational Proton launch site. The sequence, which includes interior shots of the assembly factory, culminates in the transport of a Proton rocket to the launch site at dawn. After a series of pictures from Korkytu-ata, a Muslim memorial site of comparative architectural significance near Baikonur, the film returns to the launch sites of Unity, which remains almost unchanged since the times of Gagarin, and Proton, with its vast arms reaching out into the desert. In the final sequence, with the Energia/Buran site in the distance and camels grazing in the foreground, it seems as if the desert is reclaiming its land.

The installation Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard acts as a counterpoint to the 35mm film Dream Time. The film is a document of a real event - the launch of the first manned space mission to the International Space Station (I.S.S.). The footage collapses the narrative moving between single and multiple views of the preparation and rituals surrounding the launch, culminating in the launch itself. The work is a single screen installation edited with single and multiple views, existing on one plane in contrast to the for screen installation Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard.

The exhibition has been realized with the support of the British Council, the Lisson Gallery London and the 303 Gallery New York. Special thanks go to Lisa Rosendahl and Lisa Spellman.