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Using Every Means Possible: New Works of Young Art in the Collection of the Deutsche Bank

Current art can’t be categorized according to locations or traditions. More and more, drawing, painting, and photography are becoming conceptual components of comprehensive works of art. has taken a look at this year’s new acquisitions in the collection of the Deutsche Bank and is introducing a selection of international artists who use every means possible to communicate.

“Imagine a sunny Sunday morning in late June, 2002. A teenage girl from Elmhurst is dragging her mother to Manhattan to shop for bathing suits at Bloomingdale’s. They exit the subway station at Lexington and 51st Street, and suddenly find themselvessurrounded by a throng of people carrying palanquins and slowly marching to the rhythm of a brass band…” Indeed, the scene Harper Montgomery described in a brochure of New York’s MoMA could have occurred in exactly this way – on June 23rd of this year, when the Belgian artist Francis Al˙s conducted his Modern Procession on the streets of New York. Instead of images of saints or relics, however, Alys, who lives in Mexico, chose illustrations of the best-known works in the Museum’s collection to be carried on palanquins – for instance Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel. Along with all the roses and banners, a living art icon was elevated above the masses on a palanquin, as well: the New York artist Kiki Smith.

Francis Alys, l'adoration des images, 2001
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris


Francis Alys, Study for la Bataille
du Bien & du Mal, 2001
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

Since 1991, Alys has been regularly organizing “paseos” or walks of this kind, whose routes usually progress though the centers of major metropolises, such as his hometown Mexico City. A synthesis between religious ritual, performance, and folkloristic spectacle, the processions are an essential component of his art. Their course is often determined by the most peculiar regulations. For Re-enactments (2000), for instance, the rules went as follows: “Run as far as you can while holding a 9 mm Beretta in your right hand.” For Alys, the city street is the place where public life enters into a dialogue with the artistic process. The streets were always the primary context for his art, Montgomery underscores in the brochure accompanying the New York action. Alys records the course his paseos take, noting down the results of the walks and collecting the artifacts of his processions like so many testimonies to the mysterious and miraculous; subsequently, these documents work their way into his paintings, drawings, photographs, and videos (the reader can download a screen saver Alys designed for the Dia Center for the Arts here). Three of his drawings were purchased this year for the collection of the Deutsche Bank; they document the process nature of his art.

Francis Alys, Out et la Bataille du Bien & du Mal, 2001
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

“It could be that my sole capability lies in finding the right collaborator for the respective project and medium – someone who can take a proposal of mine and translate it, rework it, and hopefully question it,” Alys said two years ago in an interview with the magazine Flash Art. Together with the curator Cuauhtémoc Medina, Alys realized The Last Clown, an art project comprising drawings, notes, paintings, and a cartoon video. Another example is Alys’ collaborative exhibition with the director of the film “Amores Perros,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, in Berlin’s Kunst-Werke. Alys doesn’t like pinning himself down to a medium, preferring to work together with other artists than create original works on his own; in the same vein, his drawings are difficult to extract from the conceptual context of the total work of art: as with all of his works, they’re meant to pick up on the communication he initiates on the street and continue it inside the gallery using other means.

Rikrit Tiravanija, Ohne Titel, 2002
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

As a prominent example of a generation at home well beyond its own European and American art metropolises, Alys’ activities are global, combining the influences of a wide variety of art forms and cultures. The fact that his is not an isolated case is quickly demonstrated by the collection’s new acquisitions of this year. As with Alys, Rikrit Tiravanija is concerned with dialogue and interaction (read an interview on this subject on the pages of the Museum in Progress). Born in Buenos Aires as the son of a Thai diplomat and having grown up in Asia, Ethiopia, America, and Canada, Tiravanija embodies the quintessence of the travelling artist with access to a variety of languages, customs, and possibilities for making oneself understood. “You have to undermine the situation before it undermines you” is one of the practicing Buddhist’s mottoes. The overwhelmingly positive reception of Tiravanija’s works, especially the early actions of the nineties, proves how successfully he attains this: he first became known for the Thai dinners he cooked for the guests of various art establishments, or the water bar he installed in front of a New York gallery in order to spur the guests outside to come together free of charge.



Sandra Meisel, Ohne Titel, aus "Turquios Series - Alyssa", 2000
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Sandra Meisel, Berlin

The shift in the meaning of nationality and origin for art’s global networks is also reflected in a transformation of a sense of self among artists. The young photographer Sandra Meisel, member of the Brooklyn artists’ collective SKIZUM STUDIO, is at home both in New York and Germany. In her photographic works, social and formal questions combine with an entirely pragmatic call for a fairer way of dealing with technology, human labor, and creativity. The greater the variety of the influences and motifs used, the more the works withdraw from an unequivocal categorization. In view of an article recently published by “Spiegel” magazine, one could surmise that German art is currently celebrating a Teutonic comeback of good old painting with a slew of Hitler portraits and images of group sex and violence – with Martin Eder in the lead. The Berlin artist, however, is in fact anything but a champion of “sassy realism.” The 31 year-old presents his watercolors of cats and childlike pin-up girls in complex installations in which trivial subjects are paired with geometric forms, graphic elements, and room-sized sculptures (a selection of photographs from his exhibition in the HbfK Dresden can be seen here). The painting is both an independent work of art and subversive decoration in a staged setting combining elements of pop culture with a minimalist language of reduced form: thus, in this year’s show of his work in the gallery Eigen+ Art, as he’d already done on previous occasions, Eder hung gigantic lumps of plastic from the ceiling, draping them in tulle – entirely as though he wanted to “veil” the obvious association to meteorites. Moreover, the “rediscovery” of figurative representation so celebrated by the Spiegel can only be savored in Eder’s work to a certain degree: his watercolors are often seemingly random stylistic quotes; in the Eigen + Art exhibition, they amount to ornamental components extending over entire walls.


Martin Eder, Ohne Titel, 2001
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
© Clarissa Dalrymple, New York

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