Invitation 05.09

September 3 till October 8, 2005

with Marcel Broodthaers, Lucassen, Ulrich Meister, Bruno Perramant, Toon Teeken

In the exhibition Im(language) II works of art will be shown in which the media language and image are combined as such that the way of addressing the viewer -which should be specific to each medium (1)- is kept open. As result of this, the illusion of a specific character of the medium is undermined.And related to this undermining the real question in this time is about the aesthetical rationality of the work of art.

It is frequently put forward that since Modernism evolved -from 1863; Manet, Beaudelaire, Flaubert– art has become autonomous and sets its own rules. Nevertheless, in the history of art there has always been a particular logic towards the development of the way of addressing, within an artistic form, of the contemplator; in this respect, traditional academism can also be understood as an expression of the autonomy of art.
However, throughout Modernism, the personal claim that the artist -who works for a free market- can lay on the sovereignty on the rules of art, radically perseveres. The dynamic character of the Vanguard is determined by the contradiction between the unicity of the personal sovereignty and the generality of the recognition of the choices of the artists as a new set of rules.
After 1950, if not the artist, at least the curator -followed by the market- has tended to interpret the subversion with regard to previous rules as an anticipation to acceptance. So, the sovereignty of the artist ends.
In this climate Broodthaers has reaffirmed his sovereignty by putting the tension between artist and medium(s) to the forefront. This reaffirmation should not be considered a philosophical judgement as a form of art, as Danto would like to call it, but as a close in which his oeuvre can be understood (2).

It is important to understand artistic qualities of a work of art as an answer to the problems (also technical) that preceding artists encountered and as an response to the general experiences of the era. On the other hand, it is not sufficient to regard art only ‘from its origin’, or as reaction to its precedents. Good art contains more than what can just be labelled by any ‘post-ism’.

The work of Marcel Broodthaers implies an overwhelming necessity; a necessity which does not derive from a specific source/origin (3), but from the purpose of his work.
The rules which the artist puts for himself must be well-founded in the finality of the work of art.(4)

In part II of Im(langu)age the exhibition will be placed in the light of aesthetic rationality, such as can be recognised in particular when the artist of the ‘post-medium-age’ plays the media off against one another. Because of the presentation of such further questions Im(langu)age II can be seen as a sequal.
In Im(langu)age I (2001) works of five artists were exhibited, which showed a wide range of different ways in which language and image combine. This ‘coupling’ of text and picture was examined in connection with the ethical conclusions stated by Rosalind Krauss in regard to the work of Marcel Broodthaers, namely, about the relation -conceptualized as free subjectivity- of the artist to (the self differentiation of) the medium. (see: Im(langu)age I)

The work of Marcel Broodthaers can be understood as a stating and realising of sovereignty. It can be understood as an fiction that has an open character and a aura, in a melancholic setting by the dependency of the arts on the medium.

Ulrich Meister is also poetical and melancholic, but sovereignty is no option for him anymore; his daily life rules, Meister regains himself in a free acceptance of the media.

The paintings of Bruno Perramant often have a serial character, like his shutters and his re-taking of a certain theme. Because of both internal and external references, the picture is always explicitly differential. Moreover, text that seems to be a current of non-synchronous subtitles, frequently appears. This results in the painting being placed in a history, or more specifically, in an abundance of stories. In his own words, Bruno Perramant states: “It is perhaps because the picture we have of the world is so terribly absurd that art is able to identify the faultline between self and reality through which a little light may still be thrown on the situation.” (5)

Toon Teeken, at first sight, ‘hides’ the tension between text and image, by pictorial solutions that lets the non-focal space of both text and painting entirely taken up in each other. In this space a heaping of figures and events take place, which relate associatively without forming an instant view.
In a second look, the closeness of the painted image dissolves in an abundance of references in both characters and text fragments out of melancholic theatre.

Lucassenretakes words and images from various times and cultures. As former ‘cult-signs’ they have lost their references to the material world, just like as physicality of the picture ‘disappears’ behind the precision of composition, painted skin and so on, The double addressing by language and painting liberates the way of addressing the viewer from the material.


(1) Medium is frequently confused with technique or even with material, such as paint. In art a set of conventions arises around a technique, within which also other materials can be used, and which itself shifts etcetera. Ultimately the medium is this dynamic tradition itself and not a physical given. Cf Rosalind Krauss, A Voyage on the North Sea. Art in the Age or the Post-Medium Condition, Thames & Hudson, London 2000, pg. 29-30.

Example: Serra’s later three dimensional paintings are more closely related to Pollock than to sculpture.

(2) Rosalind Krauss (ibid.) formulates this position of Broodthaers slightly differently, viz. as a personal re-invention or re-articulation of the medium in the space created to this end by differential specificality. For her this artistic strategy is on the one side a conclusion and on the other an ethical necessity in opposition of heteronomy, aesthetiscalisation and servitude to capital.
For the rest the writer acknowledges and wants to pay respectful tribute to her analyses of the (implicit) positions Broodthaers took on the debate about medium, on Walter Benjamin and on the structure of the fiction.

(3) An origin that at closer analysis appears forever empty, which causes adherents of differential theories to declare that the vacuum is the grounding cause , and similar negative theology. E.g. ”la patence de sa latence” by Jean-Luc Nancy in « La jeune fille qui succède aux Muses », in : Les Muses (Galilée, Paris 1994), pg. 95-96.

(4) Rainer Rochlitz is a partisan of aesthetic rationality and of art criticism based on this; see. Rainer Rochlitz , Subversion et Subvention. Art contemporain et argumentation esthétique (NRF Essais, Paris 1994). I paraphrase the introduction: The work of art primarily implies a relation to an intersubjectivity of recognition : has the work succeeded? Are there convincing grounds to justify the artistic qualities attributed to the work of art in question in order to legitimise its being entitled a work of art? This is not a return to an ancient regime of academic quality standards. The open question about the grounds is a consequence, rather, of the recognition of the artist’s opportunity to create his own rules.
Furthermore, a work of art implies a relationship with other works of art, in relation to which it shows the artist ’s choices and their contents. The debate about concerning the grounds for the justification of attributed quality is orientated at these preceding arts and what the work of art in question indicates as the relevance of it. Criticism is then the possibility of the reconstruction and evaluation of being well-grounded, of importance, scope, and fertility of the work of art; criteria which raise an aesthetic rationality.
To this I myself would like to add: This rationality as a normative idea is the base of objectivity in the (intersubjective) debate, in which each of the participants is related to the work of art and the arts.

(5) Bruno Perramant, ' The principle of delights ', in: Bruno Perramant. Upon the Rivers, catalogue at the exhibition: De Tuin der Lusten, The Garden of Delights, GEM, The Hague, 2004, pg. 9. The title is a homage to Jeroen Bosch.