[July 11 2017]
This year German collector Julia Stoschek celebrates 10 years of acquiring time-based media art.
The Julia Stoschek Collection, in Düsseldorf, is one of the few collections in the world that focuses solely on video art. Stoschek’s dedication to the medium comes with the thought that it is “the contemporary language of our time.” This 10th anniversary exhibition entitled “Generation Loss” certainly shows that. To celebrate Stoschek gave carte blanche to British digital artist Ed Atkins, who last year at the age of 33 years old was hailed “one of the great artists of our time” by Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Stroschek is also a fan, having previously devoted a retrospective to the artist at the space 5 years ago. Now she entrusted him the task to curate a show from her 750-strong collection, 49 of which were selected for the anniversary exhibition.
The curation brings together works that show how multimedia artists, such as Chris Burden, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, and Jordan Wolfson, have conveyed the changing world around them into their works. One such contemporary artist is Jon Rafman. “It’s not so much the amateur technologies themselves that inspire me, but what amateurs are doing with these technologies, what they are using the technologies to create. That’s what really gets me excited. I just love looking at stuff that people have created without the intention of it being called art.” It’s visible in his pivotal work featured at the exhibition. MAINSQUEEZE, 2014, by Jon Rafman explores the darkest parts of the web. All the material was found through exploration. Some call it Rafman’s anthropological masterpiece, a contemporary survey of our time, so it’s no wonder curator Atkins gave the artist the biggest room alongside his fellow favorite, Rachel Rose.
Absent from the curation was High Performance (2000) by artist Aaron Young, the first ever time-based media art Stoschek acquired. A favorite of hers at the show, however, is the half-hour video Gestures (1974) by the late New York feminist artist Hannah Wilke. The fascinating video depicts Wilke using her hands to manipulate the skin on her face to create various expressions and gestures. The ephemeral expressions of Wilke flow into the proceeding video by Wolfgang Tillmans. In Peas (2003) Tillmans photographs time, as a pot of vivid green peas boils then slowly cools.
In an era of “digital natives” and cyber culture consumerism, digital artists seek a physical space to display their work and provide a larger experience. As Aaron Rose writes in Collage Culture: Examining the 21st Century’s Identity Crisis, “You can google your way to information, but you cannot google an experience — at least not yet.” This comment not only relates to his analysis of the death of subcultures, but also to today’s “invisible audience.”
In the Stoschek Collection‘s 3,000 sq.m. converted factory in Dusseldorf, Atkins gives an overview of the collection. He does this not just through the selected works, but through installation. The artist aligned the screens, 4 in each room, with each room separated by soundproof glass, so that several works can be viewed at one time. In addition, Atkins ambitiously choreographed them into a series of groups that play simultaneously. Synchronizing every piece to make for a unique experience.
Marina Abramović & Ulay, Ed Atkins & Simon Thompson, Charles Atlas, Lutz Bacher,Bernadette Corporation, Chris Burden, Ian Cheng, Christian Jankowski, Joan Jonas, Imi Knoebel, Mark Leckey, Klara Lidén, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, and Jon Rafman are just a few of the artists featured in the show. See “Generation Loss” curated by Ed Atkins on view until June 10th 2018 at The Julia Stoschek Collection, Schanzenstraße 54, 40549 Düsseldorf.
Text Annabel Fernandes and photo Andrea Montano