COLOGNE.- The European Kunsthalle
opened Stephan Willat's exhibition "In and Out The Underworld", a project developed and realized specially for the European Kunsthalle c/o Ebertplatz, Cologne.
"In And Out The Underworld" is conceived as a journey through the passage or underworld' of Ebertplatz as a transition from one reality to another, from the conscious to the unconscious, from the possibility of a counter-consciousness' to the normality of the surrounding city.
Ebertplatz and its 1970's design which Willats sees as inhabiting an institutional determinism' is both site of production and exhibition space for his film, sound and text-based installation. As is the case with many modern visions, the built environment of the Ebertplatz is modified through many different kinds of use. Layered onto the concrete are the signs and messages of a counter consciousness of values created and informed by those people who are shaping the Ebertplatz's character in their own unique way. Willats' recordings of discarded objects also signify some of those behaviours that have expressed a counter consciousness.
In Stephen Willats' idea, it is the potential of society, of an encounter with someone else, that is the social dynamic of this actual public space. With this in mind, he invited a group of people that live or work near the Ebertplatz to participate in an event on 18th April 2009 using a variety of media to create and record multiple channels of experiences. Participants enter or leave the square in pairs two people being seen as the basic unit of any network or any society meeting two other people in the middle of the passage. In the process, their identities and relationships to each other are viewed by others as being constantly changed, thus influencing perception and the way they see themselves: a filmic staging of external and self-perception, processes of instant imposition, shifting identities, interaction and the public sphere.
Born 1943 in London, Stephen Willats is one of the British art scene's most influential figures. Willats, who created numerous exhibitions both at home and abroad has developed community based projects and social strategies in art starting in the early 1960s and has also published 'Control Magazine' since 1965.