Not only for photographers, this is a nice week to go to the MOMA as they have a some very interesting shows on display at the moment, as there is a lot of interesting work on display that allows to think about influence and underlying aspects in history in space and in language. And I strongly recommend to make a visit and look specially into the following three shows:
“Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010″ // April 19–August 3
“A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio”// February 8–October 5
“Designing Modern Women 1890–1990″ //October 5, 2013–September 21
Here is why:
In “The Archeology of Knowledge” (published 1969) Michel Foucault requests to rewrite history and to include the everyday and the stories of the random and ordinary people into our archives of knowledge and cultural or national history.
The work of the German artist Sigmar Polke (who died in 2010) shows and interacts with this this kind of social-cultural specific everyday-ness and visualizes and works with the living circumstances and the media, the newspaper articles and the proverbs and street language of post war Germany.
The thoughtful curation of Polke`s work in this retrospective visualizes another part and history of the social cultural atmosphere and the social landscape of post war Germany. Polke’s work often comments or transforms the given material and gives an insight into what people were talking and thinking about in their homes and on the streets – and it uncovers how much certain specifics and habits of German culture are mirrored in the media and in street posters, signs, and daily newspapers and their advertisements and articles.
The show at the MOMA gives a sensitive insight to aspects of a habitual Germaness that is underlying in the culture and becomes more visible in Polke´s work. The curation shows how Polke’s work talks to those kinds of things that are some how there but unpronounceable about a country or culture – as all spoken or written words and explanations about those things could only maneuver into the dangers of being seen as stereotypes.
But here the underlying an the unpronounceable become a part of the art work and curation, which remembers me, that the work Unpronounceable (“unaussprechlich”) itself is a meaningful term in Germany with important meaning and reference to the German culture and history.
Even though the colors and free use of material might in Polke’s work might not be to everybody’s favor – his work and vocabulary is full of truthfulness and sensitive awareness of influence and nationalism inside of a culture.
The work of Polke is looking on that what is underlying and unpronounceable and visualizes and looks critical at the superficialness and boundaries of newspaper articles and their practice, his works talk with awareness and sensitivity about the leftovers of fascism and obedience to authority in the German language and history, and in the everyday.
But they although show and visualizes the atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, the willingness to work on change and transformation and shows the beauty and meaning of certain infrastructures and characteristics such as the living close to nature and the self expression in alternative life styles in the German culture by using the everyday stories and materials of the culture. It is very interesting to see what kind of materialities mediums and vocabulary Polke uses to visualize this ideas of hidden things inside of a culture.
Staying with Foucault’s idea of reframing history and uncovering other kinds and parts of the history of a culture although the curation of some photographers photo studio produced images “A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio” is worth a look.
The exhibition shows some very interesting photographs and studio works such as Fischli and Weiss “The way things go”, and it might make you think not only about the singular photographs but although a little more about photographic studio practice in general and think about what kind of things and subjects belong to the studio practice of photographers and what their dynamics are in different times and cultures.
It makes questioning if there are parallels in the subjects and work and where they came from. What were and are the subjects and motivations of the photographers? What were their interests and where they similar to other photographers motivations and interests at different times? One can think about the state of photography at different times in our history and ask what kinds of texts and ideas were circulating at the different times and now and what was and is the cultural atmosphere and influences at now and at the different times.
The third show I like to recommend to look at is ”the Designing Modern Women 1890–1990”, – not that the show itself is arranged as thoughtful as the two other shows, or one could ask which women designers are displayed in the museum with which message and which women designers or artists are not presented in the museum and why is that so… but the model of the small kitchen that by Charlotte Perriand designed with Le Corbusier (1952) from the Unité d’Habitation housing project is– even though its presented shamefully pressed very distantly from the viewer in to a corner inside of the show – a wonderful in addition to the ideas of Foucault and the Polke Show, and to think about how we inhabit space and how the space we inhabit forms and structures ourselves and our culture, the human psychology and social interactions we have and can have with each other inside of home and space. What does this kitchen say about the sate of the meaning of home and family or about thus of the working class and conditions or about about individuality and which hints and information may it be giving about power structures as well as about enthusiasm and to the the underlying and to the unpronounceable? (http://www.dexigner.com/video/30235)