DUAL AIR [DÜRER]
25/04/2014 - 25/04/2017
Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Level 1 - Le Point Perché by The Absolut Company
By HILI PERLSON, MAY 2014
Michael Riedel gives new life to an unfinished corner at the Palais de Tokyo and to discarded museum elements, all the while rethinking the nature of artist-designed spaces.
On the lower level of the Palais de Tokyo, in an area unexplored by artists thus far, German conceptualist Michael Riedel has installed a mezzanine overlooking the bare concrete skeleton of the building’s Galerie Basse. The space itself, which he inaugurated with an immersive installation in 2013, is called Point Perché (high perch) and is host to the institution’s events program, which includes concerts, performances, lectures and screenings. When Riedel was invited by Palais de Tokyo’s partner, the Absolut Company, to create the space, he insisted on it being a three-part project, giving the Point Perché itself the function of an evolving art work rather than simply creating an artist-designed space.
Riedel, who works primarily with text, is interested in the elements existing around art. His practice includes large scale canvases, books, posters, installations, audio recordings and events (he runs the legendary dinner gatherings, the Freitag Kueche in Frankfurt) but text is at the basis of all his output. Exploring both the labor and matter that exist around the art itself and the making of an exhibition, he has made the material and immaterial residue of displaying art the central interest of his practice: websites, flyers, posters, conversations and artist interviews, but also the assembling and dismantling of an exhibition all serve as his source material. Display elements in particular receive great attention from him. Especially designed as a functional link between the art, the museum’s own architecture, and the directional intentions of curators, as well as elements of protection and presentation, these interiors are dismantled at the end of a show and then discarded, as they are often too expensive to keep. Walking through some of last year’s major exhibitions, Riedel confided, he was considering their architectural showcase elements’ possible future uses.
For his second iteration of the Point Perché space, which opened on April 25, 2014, Riedel utilized the display elements left over from last year’s major exhibition on Albrecht Dürer at Frankfurt’s Staedel Museum. Conceived as one immersive work, and titled Dual Air (Dürer), the space is transformed by the discarded display elements that now define its architecture. Showcases and pedestals double as walls, sitting elements, and even a DJ table and a bar. In order to translate the end of an exhibition into text, Riedel recorded the six-hour process of dismantling the Dürer show and fed the recorded noise—hammering, drilling and heavy schlepping—into a voice recognition program. The program transliterates the noise into words, which are instantly written out, though the resulting text is non-sensical. “These programs are getting increasingly smarter”, he complained, “and some of them don’t transcribe a noise they don’t understand anymore, so I get less and less text.”
Nevertheless, the program wrote a (syntactically incoherent) textual piece that was printed on a single piece of paper, which was folded out to fit to the space’s dimensions and now covers it entirely. The text runs in four directions, while every ‘L’ in the text is enlarged and made bold. This links the current installation to the first installation Riedel designed last year, entitled Jacques Comité (Giacometti), where the O’s were highlighted. (‘O’ was based on a 6h 17min. 32sec. sound recording from the disassembling of the “Giacometti. Playing Fields” exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, in 2013). The O’s and L’s reflect the binary opposition of ones and zeroes at the basis of digital language, but they also reflect the opposition “on” and “off” and the demarcation “art” and “not art”—the main focus of Riedel’s work.
At the center of the black and white space, an overhead directional microphone is installed to picks up the noise created by visitors. The noise is instantly fed into a voice recognition program, and the text created by it is projected on a partition wall. During the opening night, it was the sound of dancing to 60’s beat music and cheerful fêting, but over the course of the following year, it will pick up the sounds of lectures on art-related themes and performances, which will in turn form the basis of a future work by Riedel. His circular mapping of “the system of art and the art of the system” thus remains complete throughout.
Hili Perlson is a freelance art journalist and critic based in Berlin. She is a co-founder of Meta Magazine.