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Exhibition and Karl Ströher Prize for French Artist Cyprien Gaillard
Cyprien Gaillard, The New Picturesque (Angkor Series) , 2010. Collage 9 x 13,5 cm 3 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches 20 ,5 x 28,5 cm (gerahmt/framed) 7 7/8 x 11 inches (gerahmt/framed). Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London / Laura Bartlett Gallery, London / Bugada & Cargnel, Paris.

FRANKFURT.- Large demolition bulldozers, huge piles of rubble and the constant noise of the pneumatic drills at present set the tone in the vicinity of the MMK Zollamt. What was once the Technical City Hall is giving way to reconstructed buildings that will emulate Frankfurt’s original old town. Destruction, demolition and preservation are likewise central topics in the artwork and research of French artist Cyprien Gaillard (born 1980). The view out over the building site that you get from the Zollamt windows forms the ideal backdrop for the exhibition “Cyprien Gaillard” (Sept. 4 –Oct. 24, 2010).

Gaillard was born in Paris and currently lives in Berlin. In recent years, he has participated in countless international exhibitions and with his unique view of the “landscapes” of today, Gaillard has, to much acclaim world-wide, inquired critically into the meaning of the concept of Modernity. “In his work, Cyprien Gaillard explores and documents super-impositions, transformations and alienated recreations of architecture, usually coming across his motifs during his journeys around the world. However, his is not a nostalgic gaze or even one suffused with sorrow at what has passed, but instead is fueled by an at times aggressive joy in transformation,” comments Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer, the MMK’s Director.

For several years now Gaillard has dedicated himself to his Geographical Analogies (2006-10) project, an “atlas” of comparative photographs that now runs to over 100 display cases. On his journeys, Gaillard takes Polaroids of historical and modern buildings, gardens and ruins. In each instance, nine of these photographs are then juxtaposed to one another in a diamond arrangement in one display case – as Geographical Analogies.

His 16mm film Cities of Gold and Mirrors (2009), which MMK has acquired for its Collection, shows the Mexican tourist metropolis of Cancun. A cheap holiday destination, its huge hotel complexes are very popular specifically among young Americans located in the direct vicinity of temple ruins, these modern hotels imitate the ancient pyramids. All of this becomes the backdrop in the film for excessive binge-drinking.

The exhibition at MMK Zollamt is completed by a new piece called Indian Palace that Gaillard has just made. Gaillard succeeded in obtaining some of the windows from the East Berlin Palast der Republik, which was demolished last year, and has now transformed them. The panes now boast the logo of the US Cleveland Indians baseball team. The logo bears the caricatured image of a Native American is highly controversial in the United States, and is an emblem that repeatedly crops up in Cyprien Gaillard’s oeuvre.

“The window panes have arrived as ‘spoils’ in Frankfurt. The term ‘spoil’ originally referred to the hide of an animal or the enemy’s armor and was later extended to apply to old fragments of architecture. The Native American grinning through the shimmering glass brings to mind the constant change in power relations, hierarchies and values. The two construction sites, the one in Frankfurt and the other in Berlin, are prime architectural examples of this,” relates Klaus Görner, the curator of the exhibition.

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