How does art relate to money? Is art no more than a consumption-object? Are political contents more than a price rising factor on the overheated art market? How much leeway is given if private sponsors have to close the gaps of missing public support for art institutions? Is it possible that sponsors get involved in art other than in terms of money? Aren’t creativity, critical self conception and awareness of the needs of a society indispensable signs of modern market strategies? And isn’t the production of glamour a survival strategy for cultural producers in the times of neo-liberalism? Élégance goes into these questions in four ambivalent installations.
Julika Rudelius’ video installation Economic Primacy (2005) shows top managers and millionaires talking about their relationship to money. They are each filmed inside an anonymous office. They answer questions that are posed via inter phone and unheard by the viewer. A strange situation,making the viewer unsure whether the filmed persons pose for the public or are justifying themselves, or whether they are intimately soliloquising. The personal way of speech involves the viewer and withdraws the neutralising distance.
Merlin Carpenter presents four prestigious Mercedes-Benz mountain bikes entitled David’s Soul (1999/2007). The bicycles were not sponsored by Mercedes-Benz or the Daimler AG, but acquired by purchase. In a wilful parallel to the art market, Carpenter uses products of a global art market developing their value not least through their name. In a rather cynic way, the original idea of a ready-made as an object being linked to industrial reproduction and to the question of authorship is twisted here. And even the glamorous way way of dealing with popular culture, as is evident in the work of Jeff Koons, is broken through the presentation.
For his project Radical Loyality (ongoing since 2003) he bought an estate in Estonia in order to build a sculpture park. Instead of asking for financial support, he invited the directors of big international companies to conversation. Talking on the subject of „loyalty“ they developed concepts for sculptures for the park together. Sculptors from Estonia, who in Soviet times created communist monuments, are now supposed to realise these plans. At the Kölnischer Kunstverein, he will document the actual state of his project. Chris Evans’ work is not only a comment on cultural institutions’ dependence on sponsorships and enterprises. It could also be interpreted in the sense of an ironic criticism of neo-liberal take-over in the European societies if he did not (at the same time) accept complicity with global players by seeking an open dialogue with the managers.
Automne/Frottée 06/07 (2006) is a work by Thea Djordjadze, Gerda Scheepers and Rosemarie Trockel. The title, deriving from the world of fashion, refers to an installation dealing with prestige, self-dramatization and its condition of oneself. It consists of a stage evocative of a protective casket, where one can see two video installations. Further elements of the installation, a coffin-like car roof box for car-roofs, a bed, a heavy, grey curtain and three bath robes evoke intimacy and preciousness as much as death and decay. One of the sources for this work was a documentary on „Swankers“, South-African mine-workers, who save the last cents of their poor income for expensive suits from fashion designers. In nightly meetings they present the special features of these suits in dance-like performances.