Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary ArtWednesday, 28. January 2009
Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art is an exhibition in the Kunsthalle Vienna, featuring Edward Hopper (surprise!), David Claerbout [page is in French], Dawn Clements, Jonas Dahlberg, Thomas Demand, Gustav Deutsch [There's an English button which I can't get to work. If you can, great, if not, it's in German], Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Tim Eitel, Jim Jarmusch, Rachel Khedoori, Mark Lewis, Ed Ruscha, Markus Schinwald/Oleg Soulimenko, Jeff Wall, Rachel Whiteread.
[Oh yeah, baby, that's Jim Jarmusch right there. ;)]
The exhibition concentrates on Hopper’s influence on cinema and his view of architectural space, but it also features photographs working with the same principles as he did in his paintings – people, who are kind of frozen in their loneliness, light that makes the paintings come alive.
It’s very interesting to see the parallels that are drawn between the different artists, who work with very different media – from painting to sculptures, film to print.
It’s a surprisingly short exhibition – even though there are so many different artists, you can comfortably see everything in an hour and a half – which is exactly the amount of time my brain gives me before it goes in information overload mode.
Although I didn’t like all the artists (and let’s be honest, there’s little chance of that because there are just so many of them), I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
[After the break see pictures of the artists' works.]
This was a film installation, where the background [the outside] of a photo was manipulated to show people walking past, sometimes trying to open the locked doors. Everything but their shadows had to stay outside.
Another film installation, which only showed the inside of this car the whole time. It’s raining, nobody is talking. In the second half of it, though, we can see the car from the outside, in a wide landscape with the sun shining. It could have been a photograph except for a swaying tree in the foreground of the picture, which gave it all a bit of an eerie feel.
Another video installation, called three rooms (you can watch it on his site). It showed three rooms – a bedroom, a dining room, a living room – with the furniture and everything in it slowly falling apart and decaying. The picture here is of the bedroom, before the destruction.
Thomas Demand takes photos, which are – at first glance – rather unremarkable, even if very well executed. Then somebody tells you that he builds all his scenes with paper and cardboard only, which you wouldn’t notice without somebody telling you. And then you’re awed. :)
As I mentioned before, that’s the set of the Western Motel painting. Deutsch also did miniatures of other Hopper painting backgrounds (without the people) which you could look at through a small hole. Kind of like a peep show.
DiCorcia has a photograph series called “Hustlers”, where he photographs young uhm… hustlers. The title of the photo is the name, age, location and the price of the mostly young boys. This one is: ‘Brent Booth, 21 years old, Des Moines, Iowa $30′
There were several scenes from different Jarmusch movies like Broken Flowers, Stranger Than Paradise, Coffee and Cigarettes, Night on Earth etc. Jarmusch himself said how influential Hopper was on his style.
And if you take this excerpt from Coffee and Cigarettes it’s pretty plain to see.
Mark Lewis had two video installations in this exhibition. In this one, the camera slowly zooms towards the building, which doesn’t have any windows. There are a few people on the second floor and we slowly discover what they’re doing – making a top spin. [Watch the thing here - it's beautiful.]
That’s the second installation: the camera slowly drives around this triangular building. [You can watch it here, but personally I didn't like it as much as North Circular above.]
Markus Schinwald/Oleg Soulimenko
Markus Schinwald shot a video of dancer/performer/entertainer Oleg Soulimenko doing his thing – he kind of moves a bit aimlessly (and pointlessly) about this set. Didn’t watch that for long because I got bored, to be honest.
Rachel Whiteread also did the Holocaust Memorial on the Judenplatz in Vienna (the Nameless Library).
That’s it. *wipes brow*