Five artists have joined us to celebrate 30 years of Parkett—Tauba Auerbach, Urs Fischer, Cyprien Gaillard, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Shirana Shahbazi—creating a very special issue that also features the theme of “performance.”
The marked interest in repetition and standards shared by these artists underlies their view of the fundamentals that seem to determine our lives, leading them to discover surprising and unprecedented potential behind universally familiar patterns.
History is addressed in fragments deliberately conjured as visual echoes or invocations. Motifs that recall the past are juxtaposed with startling queries and current connotations, while actions and images that might be described as “romantic” repeatedly make a lustrous appearance in the pages of Parkett 94. Examining this aspect in the work of Cyprien Gaillard, writers Bridget Alsdorf and Tom McDonough observe a notion of romanticism that clearly eschews any connotations of sentimentality.
From Markús Þór Andrésson’s essay we learn that sentimentality takes an entirely different turn in the work of Ragnar Kjartansson. In contrast, writer and musician Drew Daniel presents a discerning analysis of repetition as a collective, emotional experience, based on Kjartansson’s six-hour performance—a mantra consisting of four chords—with members of the band, The National. “There’s a curiously mimetic bond in place between musicians whose work asserts stasis and listeners who voluntarily dig themselves deeper into the locked grooves and emotional ruts of repeat play.”
In the art of Shirana Shahbazi and Tauba Auerbach, abstraction takes shape as another pattern drawn from the depths of history. Jörg Heiser observes that Shahbazi’s analog photography “consistently undermines such dichotomies as contrast and similarity, figurative spatiality and geometric abstraction, or banality and rapture.” Tauba Auerbach engages a visually open-ended form of abstraction not only in her negotiation of the borderline between mathematics and typography but also when her repetition of ornaments challenges our “abstract thinking.” After visiting Urs Fischer, Nicholas Cullinan notes that the terms “atelier” or “studio” seem obsolete or inadequate to describe what he encountered there, especially since Fischer’s oeuvre builds on multiple, transformative processes that constantly expand and reach out. For instance, in a large-scale project in Los Angeles, he enlisted the collective imagination by posting a want ad to call for “volunteers.” A telling metaphor for a collaborative exhibition practice. The sculptures made spontaneously out of tons of clay were cast in bronze a year later and transported to a gutted “corporate building”— to a banking universe that has apparently already succumbed to decay—as a vital manifestation of corrosive power.
What makes performance so topical? Selected aspects of the medium are examined, which take place not only in our heads but also in our bodies due to the technological changes in our everyday lives. Those changes also engage the public as shown in the discussion of attention, particularly in terms of our ceaseless connectivity with the outside world even as we are perceiving a live performance. The insert has been designed by Charles Atlas.