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Kunstsammlung NRW opens exhibition of new and recent work by Lutz Bacher
Installationsansicht "Lutz Bacher. What's Love Got to Do With It" im K21, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Courtesy the artist und Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York. Photo: Achim Kukulies © Kunstsammlung NRW.

DUSSELDORF.- American artist Lutz Bacher has been making work spanning an array of media since the 1970s. The artist is a longtime resident of California, and as of recent, of New York. The game of hide-and-seek she plays with her own self by working under a masculine pseudonym since early on in her career can serve as a helpful entry point to Bacher’s artistic practice. It centers around issues of identity, power structures, and violence, all the while remaining ambiguous and enigmatic. Addressing the influence of the mass media on everyday social and political life, Bacher often works with found objects as well as texts and images drawn from the minutiae of popular culture: soundtracks from Hollywood films, props from television shows, unedited cell phone videos, and the physical detritus from various spheres of consumption. Through techniques of rearrangement, distortion, and estrangement, Bacher destabilizes the appearance and impact of her materials, allowing them to interact in new ways. Now, for her exhibition at the K21, What’s Love Got to Do With It, new and recent work by Bacher is be presented on the Bel Etage and in the entrance hall of the museum.

In Untitled (2017), Donald Trump’s signature is enlarged and repeated on white paper that runs across the walls of all three exhibition galleries. The work is intersected by hastily scribbled notes from everyday life in Open the Kimono (2018), and ostensibly meaningful, zen-inspired sentences in Black or White (2018), which pass by in an endless loop on giant screens. Together with The Sea. Spies Like Us (2013), a sporadically intelligible soundscape of audio excerpted from a spy thriller, the various elements densify into an atmosphere of ambivalence that evokes the cacophony of everyday life through its never-ending stream of information. Turning the mythologized cowboys of the Vegas Strip into straw men, the central room of the exhibition features Vegas Pants (2018), a new installation composed of a group of pajama bottoms emblazoned with gambling mantras and the name of the titular desert city, the tacky residue of get-rich-quick clichés of the American West.

On view in the entrance hall is Cyclops (2017), an arrangement of 26 surveillance mirrors. Installed in an architecturally erratic setting, the mirrors form a similarly chaotic system of reflections and sightlines while channeling the omnipresence of surveillance technologies, disciplinary techniques, and the power structures they both enable and conceal. Every hour in the museum piazza, Music in the Castle of Heaven (2018) will be played, a smartphone recording of a church concert of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” This iconic organ piece, so ingrained in popular culture, permeates the entire building like a celestial echo, recasting the aesthetically tangible character of the museum space into a “castle of heaven.”

The exhibition of Lutz Bacher’s work, What’s Love Got to Do With It, opened on September 6, 2018, coinciding with the re-opening of the K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf.

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