MärklinWorld is KAdEs
new exhibition, set to run through 8 January 2012. The show features photographs, paintings, models and videos of urban and rural landscapes by forty international contemporary artists who all share a fascination with the world as a construct. Märklin is the name of a German company that has been producing model railways ever since 1891. Its products sell to hobbyists who build their own miniature railways at home (often hidden away in the attic). They turn themselves into the producers and directors of an often nostalgic Märklin world of their own creation: an idealised imitation of the real world. In MärklinWorld, KAdE shows how landscape is a major source of inspiration for artists. In his or her own individual way, each of the participants in the exhibition translates it into works of art that at once refer to the real world and play with its artificiality. By doing so, they constantly highlight different aspects of it and in passing underline the visual richness of our surroundings.
A camera train through KAdE
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a 60-metre model railway layout (line 1) designed by Hague-based urban development and design agency POSAD. The train trundles through the installations created by the eight artists, filming them from the inside as it goes. Visitors can walk around the installations, getting a birds eye view of them from the outside. The images from the camera mounted on the train are projected on the wall in real time, enabling visitors simultaneously to experience the same landscape from within, as if they were passengers on the railway. The result is a multi-facetted view of the artistic model world, which encompasses both rural and urban landscapes.
The artists involved have all created their installations especially for KAdE. They are: Krijn de Koning (NL, 1963), The Chadwicks (US), Friedrich Kunath (US, 1974), Tobias Putrih (SI, 1972), Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger (CH, 1967 & 1964), Ante Timmermans (BE, 1976), Leonid Tsvetkov (US, 1980) and Rob Voerman (NL, 1966).
Landscapes and dream worlds
Ante Timmermans Echo installation uses black light to transform wooden pallets into skyscrapers. Its ground plan echoes that of the railway. Rob Voermans installation offers an alternative to the carefully planned cityscape. Voerman uses cardboard, recycled wood and beeswax to conjure up a ramshackle space referring to the Rietveld Schröder house in Utrecht. Inside this space is a model deriving from modernist housing and used by Voerman to take a stance on the role of architecture in relation to social issues. The train also passes through landscapes, or even dream worlds. For example, Swiss artist duo Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger have created coloured crystals (which will slowly grow in the course of the exhibition) among real foliage.
Photographs, paintings, models and videos of urban and rural areas
On the first and second floors of the exhibition, exhibits include photographs, paintings, models and videos of real and constructed urban and rural landscapes. Artists play with the (in)authenticity of the real world and, by doing so, lead us to look at our own everyday surroundings in a new way.
Works by: Oliver Boberg (DE, 1965), Michael Borremans (BE, 1963), Sonja Braas (DE, 1965), Eelco Brand (NL, 1969), Balthasar Burkhard (CH, 1944-2010), James Casebere (US, 1953), Croy & Elser (DE, 1970 & 1972), Miklos Gaál (FI, 1974), Willem van den Hoed (NL, 1965), Bodys Isek Kingelez (CD, 1948), Martin Luijendijk (NL, 1958), Stephan Mörsch (DE, 1974), Otobong Nkanga (NG, 1974), Peter Bialobrezki (DE, 1961), Mark Lewis (CA, 1958), Miyuki Okuyama (JP, 1973), Hans Op de Beeck (BE, 1969), Jan Ros (NL, 1961), Frank van der Salm (NL, 1964), Michael Samuels (UK, 1964), Joel Sternfeld (US 1944), Thomas Struth (DE, 1954), Maurice van Tellingen (NL, 1957), Ulrich Vogl (DE, 1973), Robert Voit (DE, 1969), Hans Wilschut (NL, 1966) and Edwin Zwakman (NL, 1966).
The exhibition is accompanied by a wide range of related activities organised by Kunsthal KAdE in association with bodies such as the Amersfoort Architecture Centre. Various issues raised by the exhibition will be addressed in a symposium (24 September) and by lectures and evening film shows. Each activity will be linked to a theme, such as the relationship between architecture and photography, public space, or model building.
What 's still real?
The artworks blur the distinction between real and constructed landscapes in the town and country. Real landscapes look unreal, while manufactured landscapes strike us as familiar. At the same time, the exhibition raises the question of what is actually still real about the world in which we live, so much of which has been artificially created or designed by human beings. This alienating effect is inherent in the work of all the artists featured in MärklinWorld; something in it always seems out of joint.
Photographers manipulate reality in a variety of ways. Both Oliver Boberg and Edwin Zwakman start by creating models, which they then photograph. In the resulting images, Bobergs landscapes seem indistinguishable from reality, whereas Zwakman deliberately creates confusion by betraying the fact that something is not quite as it seems.
Another approach is to photograph the real world to look deceptively artificial. Miklos Gaál deliberately eliminates all sense of scale. In his landscapes, usually photographed from above, people are tiny doll-like figures in a miniature landscape. Sonja Braas concentrates on photographing nature. She has photographed both real landscapes and dioramas in natural history museums. The real ones look fake, while the museum imitations appear real.
The tension between true and false is also explored in other media. Michaël Borremans has painted a group of people constructing a miniature landscape. Jan Ros creates partly abstract landscape paintings in which, for example, a motorway crash barrier can become an indeterminate line playing a prominent role in the composition. Ulrich Vogls installation shows a city at night, indicated only by tiny dots of light. These are projected by fourteen slide projectors, which themselves form a landscape.
The exhibition will also include a selection from the multitude of model houses created by Peter Fritz. In 1993, artist Oliver Croy stumbled on this collection of 387 miniature houses in a junk shop in Vienna. He bought all of them and eventually discovered that they had been produced by a Viennese insurance clerk called Peter Fritz (+1992). In 2000, working hand in hand with architecture critic Oliver Elser, Croy launched the Fritz Studies Project, in which artists and architects analysed these highly original little models. All 387 houses proved to be designs for future building projects dreamed up by Peter Fritz, who owned a holiday home in the region of Vienna.