be. breathe. sleep. dream. move. wake. rise. sit.
Even if they
The clowns are in the exhibition to act through
It is truly disturbing to see the clowns with activities
Curated by Larys Frogier
About the exhibition
The Rockbund Art Museum is honored to present the first solo exhibition of the influential international artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) in Greater China. From September 30th to December 25th, 2016, RAM hosts a comprehensive exhibition of work by the late American artist, who is renowned for his unconventional methodology and poignant sensitivity. The unique nature of his work takes this exhibition beyond a retrospective; it constitutes a genuine renewal of his art.
Selected from 30 institutions and collections across the world, the exhibition includes over 40 pieces, spanning from 1987 to 1995, invites audiences to contemplate issues, both public and private, that are still relevant today. Throughout his work, the tension between the public and private, the shared and the personal, comprises a recurrent theme for Gonzalez-Torres. Many of the artist’s works consist of everyday objects, such as strings of light bulbs, mirrors, wall clocks or printed sheets of paper. Other works are comprised of spills of candy , mirrors, and jigsaw puzzles. His artwork itself is like a puzzle, but lacking a univocal order. Its demure minimal aesthetic solicits the audience to put the pieces together for themselves, inviting a plurality of pictures to emerge.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this exhibition is the dramatic shift in the historical and cultural context of the artworks as they travel to Shanghai. Much of Gonzalez-Torres’ work allows the environment to challenge and alter its aesthetic. By staging the exhibition in contemporary China, it will open up the artist’s work to a new context, as a 21st century Chinese public confronts its message for the first time. It is well known that Gonzalez-Torres produced his work in the 80’s and 90’s in an American society and art community profoundly affected by the AIDS epidemic. However, it would be a mistake to engage with his work as simply dealing with homosexual issues or the AIDS crisis. These issues represent that circumstances under which the work were made and can be understood as platforms for exploring human values, relationships and aspirations at large, both in the artist and in the viewer.
Audiences in China may readily recognize a postmodern symptomatology in the artworks on show; a presentation for an age of information where social media, television and the internet fragment identities and abrogate local bonds. By the late 1990’s, the Chinese art community had already recognized the value of Gonzalez-Torres’ contribution in the domain of identity politics. His peculiarly subtle way of navigating this sphere served as a model for many. Yet, sometimes this dimension of his artwork dominated its appreciation, obfuscating some of its more pliable and generalizable aspects.
Broad social themes resonate throughout the exhibition including: the conditions of large-scale production, dominant discourses, minority representation, or the loss of personality in the currents of postindustrial society. Equally the experience of loss, of love, the uncanny passage of time, or the hopeful quality of play— the very conditions of life—can also be found in this artist’s extraordinary array of work.
20 years since his passing, RAM is able to present the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres afresh, moving beyond the labels that once constrained its definition. Its uniquely interactive nature entails that meaning is not only discovered, but also contributed by its audience. This reciprocity is what makes Gonzalez-Torres both an artist of the polity, and in the end altogether intimate. Quirky and opaque, sharp and humorous: the pieces presented in this forthcoming exhibition will incite introspection just as they draw its audiences together.
Rockbund Art Museum would like to thank the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation and the many institutions that graciously loaned their pieces, both for their generous help and their assistance in bringing this exhibition into realization.
About the artist
Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s interest in social and political causes may have informed the overlap of private and public life that can be found in his work. From 1987 to 1991, he was part of Group Material, a New York based art collective whose members worked collaboratively to initiate community education and cultural activism.
During his lifetime, Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) was the subject of several important museum exhibitions, including “Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Traveling” (1994) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and a retrospective organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995), which traveled to the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, and ARC-Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Gonzalez-Torres’s works have been included in hundreds of group shows, including early presentations at Artist’s Space and White Columns in New York City (1987 and 1988 respectively); the Whitney Biennial (1991); the Venice Biennale (Aperto 93, 1993); SITE/Santa Fe (1995); and the Sydney Biennale (1996). Since his death in 1996, there have been numerous solo exhibitions devoted to his work, including ones organized by the Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany (1997) which traveled to Kunstverein St. Gallen Kunstmuseum, Switzerland (1997) and Museum fur Moderne Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Austria (1998); the Serpentine Gallery, London (2000); Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany (2006 – 2007); PLATEAU and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea (2012). A survey of his work, ‘Specific Objects without Specific Form’, was organised by WIELS, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels, Belgium (2010), and then travelled to Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland (2010) and Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt, Germany (2011). In 2007, Gonzalez-Torres was selected to represent the United States at the 52nd La Biennale de Venezia, in the exhibition “Felix Gonzalez-Torres: America”.
Curated by Larys Frogier, Li Qi
Supported by Rockbund
About The Exhibition
The Rockbund Art Museum presents a major solo exhibition by French artist, Philippe Parreno, his first in China. This exhibition is dedicated to the late Xavier Douroux whose influence on Parreno’s career cannot be overstated.
Curated by the Director of the museum, Larys Frogier, Parreno’s first exhibition in China unfolds onthe museum’s six floors, also extending to its seventh floor glass rooftop.
Over the past twenty years, Parreno has radically redefined the exhibition going experience by exploring its possibilities as a medium in its own right. Realized in dialogue with the physicality and functionality of the museum’s architecture, the exhibition will alter the building’s current existence through an unexpected use of time, space, light, and sound to become a semi automated puppet, a perpetual motion of events in which Parreno subverts the conventions of the gallery space.
Curator of the exhibition, Larys Frogier, states: “Parreno invites visitors to engage with contradictory notions of the physical, emotional, and conceptual. He blurs the distinction between reality and fiction to create an all-encompassing world of endless possibilities”.
Working with light, shadow, and time duration, Parreno engages visitors through a constantly evolving space. The artist covers various windows of the renovated Art Deco building with blinds that will act as eyelids to the building, opening and closing in different locations, and to variable time sequences – each gallery space shifts from darkness to twilight, and then to full light. Some blinds are activated using motors, but for the very first time the artist works with ‘dalang’ performers to operate the remainder. A ‘dalang’ refers to the puppeteer in an Indonesian Wayang performance; traditionally controlling the white screen and lighting that together create the shadow puppets that make up the performance.
On the museum’s glass rooftop, Parreno installed a heliostat that redirects sunlight into the fourth floor ground in a carefully choreographed ensemble of natural light that dances in sync with the movement of the blinds.
For the new rendition of Parreno’s animated film Anywhere Out Of the World, the 2D manga heroine who featured in the opening series of the artist’s 1999 collaborative project, No Ghost Just A Shell, is re-appearing in stereoscopic 3D, with new narration.
An illuminated glass marquee placed at the 3rd floor of the exhibition is playing a tune that resonates throughout the entire building. From the appearance of a film to the disappearance of an image, to a song sung by the dalangs: Parreno will choreograph the Rockbund Art Museum.
About the artist
A key artist of his generation, Philippe Parreno radically redefined the exhibition experience by taking it as a medium, placing its construction at the heart of his process. Working in a diverse range of media including film, sculpture, drawing, and text, Parreno conceives his exhibitions as a scripted space where a series of events unfold. He seeks to transform the exhibition visit into a singular experience that plays with spatial and temporal boundaries and the sensory experience of the visitor, who is guided through the space by the orchestration of sound and image.
For the artist, the exhibition is less a total work of art than a necessary interdependence that offers an ongoing series of open possibilities. Based in Paris, France, Parreno has exhibited and published internationally. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Grenoble from 1983 – 1988 and at the Institut des Hautes Etudes en arts plastiques at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris from 1988 -1989.
Parreno was awarded the prestigious 2016 Hyundai Commission at Tate Modern Turbine Hall, titled Anywhen the commission received international acclaim. Parreno was also the first artist to take over the entire 22,000 square metre gallery space at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris with his exhibition Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World which opened in October 2013. Major exhibitions of Parreno’s work include: Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2017); ACMI, Melbourne (2016/17); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2015), Park Avenue Armory, New York (2015), CAC Malaga (2014), The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2013); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2013); Fondation Beyeler (2012); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2012); The Serpentine Gallery, London (2010); Witte de With (2010); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2009); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2009); Kunsthalle Zurich (2009); CCA Kitakyoshu, Japan (2006); Kunsthalle Zürich (2006); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2003); Musée D’Art Moderne de le Ville de Paris (2002), and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2001).
Curated by Larys Frogier
Organised by Rockbund Art Museum
Supported by Rockbund, French Consulate-General Shanghai, Croisements festival
Contributed by Mr. and Mrs. C. K. Cheung, Honorary Partons of RAM
The Rockbund Art Museum is very pleased to present the first institutional solo exhibition in China by the renowned German artist Tobias Rehberger. “If you don’t use your eyes to see, you will use them to cry” from 23 March to 26 May, 2019. Rehberger’s multifaceted work has been instrumental to expanding the possibilities of sculpture, spanning a diverse range of fields that include design, architecture, and conceptual art. The exhibition looks to showcase newly commissioned works and site-specific installations created especially for the Rockbund Art Museum. Through an array of visually confounding objects and environments, Rehberger continues to pioneer a range of production techniques and forms of social intervention that explore how we interact with space and perceive the connection between everyday life and art.
Born in 1966, Esslingen, Germany, the Frankfurt-based Rehberger was a student of Martin Kippenberger and Thomas Bayrle, and is noted for later contributions that place him among a generation of artists in the 90s whose cross-disciplinary approaches redefined ideas of shared authorship and controlled chance as a catalyst for making art. Larys Frogier, Director of the Rockbund, anticipates Rehberger’s exhibition as follows: “During the exhibition, the artist will transform the building of our institution into a space that looks to appeal to passersby or those who rarely venture into the museum. Through the transition of moving from the outside into the exhibition, the audience is immersed into a dazzling alternative world that subverts the boundaries of these different realities. By intervening onto our museum structure, Rehberger re-routes the logic of our social norms, therefore opening up new entry points to imagine how art can fuse together with our life.”
The exhibition’s title, “If you don’t use your eyes to see, you will use them to cry,” is a truism that expresses the connection between how we choose to see the world and the importance of this decision in defining the quality of our experience and engagement with it. Adept at incorporating public environments and everyday objects into his work, Rehberger brings a butcher shop, flower arrangements, a teahouse, a bar, and public signage to occupy the different floors of the Museum. Many of these works play with notions of collective memory and cultural displacement, highlighting the way ideas circulate and transform in new contexts.
Outside of the museum, a neon sign hints at the fully functional “butcher shop” that now sits on the first floor. On the second floor is Vase Portrait series (1997 to 2016), an “exhibition within an exhibition,” in which a collection of more than 50 uniquely composed flower-adorned sculptures form an homage to and reveal the aesthetic quirks of a community of artists and friends associated with the artist. A teahouse on the third floor incorporates Western misinterpretations of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the design of the structure diverging from the procedures of this highly-prescribed ritual to create a new type of gathering. On the fourth floor, the artist has created an impressive display of LED light sculptures that mimic the commercial signage systems found in outdoor public spaces. Free Coffee Free Parking Freedom (plug & play version) (2018) invites the audience to remotely control the brightness and level of noise in the space as the lights synchronize to music played from a mobile phone. The fifth-floor mezzanine will display a new iteration of the artist’s ongoing Pixels series (2019), which asks the viewer to constantly adjust his or her distance in relation to a vivid sequence of monochrome mosaic tiles. Depending on one’s perspective, the work appears alternately as an abstract composition of colors or a panoramic landscape of images.
In Rehberger’s exhibition, viewers are treated to a multisensory aesthetic experience where the artworks are enriched with new meaning through the act of seeing and engaging. Occupying the entire top-floor of the museum, Forbidden in heaven, useless in hell (El Redomon version) (2019) is a social artwork that functions as a bar. Conceived in collaboration with the Shanghai-based bar Blackbird, the bar is open only at night. From ceiling to floor, and extending to the furniture, the entire surfaces of the bar have been covered by the artist—an evolution of his series inspired by ‘dazzle’ camouflage, a motif that has formed the basis of many of his projects including his Golden Lion-winning installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale.
Marking a unique site-specific public commission for the museum, the audience can therefore drink at a bar boasting an impressive view of a giant indoor Sun sculpture, which blinks on and off according to the rise and set of the sun in El Redomon, Argentina, which is positioned on the exact opposite point of the globe to Shanghai. The collaboration between Rehberger and Blackbird restaurant also extends to the first floor butcher shop with another artwork that gives the opportunity for viewers to not only look at, but also to enjoy a menu of meat-based items that can be eaten on-site or taken away. As co-curator Billy Tang remarks, a “key concern running throughout the floors of the museum is a desire to challenge the segmentation of art by mixing it with other areas of society. The exhibition includes the essential input of a wide list of collaborators—florists, artists, craftsmen, butchers, or bartenders—and each of these elements brings something unpredictable. There are works that go beyond our typical opening time and this challenges our habit of trying to grasp the entire exhibition in a single moment.”
For the duration of “If you don’t use your eyes to see, you will use them to cry,” Rockbund Art Museum will host a series of public programming and educational events further expanding on the themes explored in the exhibition.
Tobias Rehberger is an artist whose work is characterized by transformation, serendipity, collaboration and shared experience. His work in large-scale often takes the form of visually-rich environments that are sites for social encounter, such as his Was du liebst bringt dich auch zum weinen (2009), which won the Golden Lion for the 53rd Venice Biennale, his recreation of Frankfurt’s Bar Oppenheimer in New York (2013), or his procession of sculptures 24 Stops between the Beyeler Foundation and Vitra Campus near Basel (2015-2016). When working with self-contained sculpture, Rehberger often looks to the viewer, friends and other collaborators to complete or contribute to the work. He invited fellow artists he had portrayed as vases to present him with a bouquet of flowers, completing each Vase Portrait, he asked assistants to initiate sculptural formations in velcro for his Infection series (2007 – ongoing) and he worked with craftsmen in Cameroon and Thailand to make serendipitous copies of furniture and cars. Working across diverse scales and an array of media, Rehberger is fascinated by the boundless possibilities of object and environment. As Rehberger once described, “I am very interested in this phenomenon that …the object is not only interested in its own existence. It’s a kind of tool helping the existence of something else.”
Selected solo exhibitions and projects for the artist include If you don’t use your eyes to see, you will use them to cry, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2019); Yourself is sometimes a place to call your own, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan (2018); 24 Stops, Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2016); Home and Away and Outside, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2014); Tobias Rehberger: Wrap it up, MACRO Museum, Rome (2014); Dazzle Ship London, River Thames, London (2012); When I See the Other Side of Heaven, It Is Just as Blue (commission), The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2012); Nest (commission), Bloomberg SPACE, London (2012); Tobias Rehberger, MAXXI, Rome (2010); The Chicken-and-Egg-No-Problem Wall-Painting, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); On Otto, Fondazione Prada, Milan (2007); Get a New Liver, Tate Liverpool (2006); Private Matters, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2004); Night Shift, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2002) and The Sun from Above, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2000). Tobias Rehberger lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany.
Curated by Larys Frogier, Billy Tang