Through November 21, Kunstverein München
offers the first comprehensive solo exhibition in Europe, Do It To Do It, of upcoming Swiss artist Tobias Madison (*1985, Basel). While giving access to the early stages of Madisons emerging oeuvre, this exhibition features a selection of works that are as fragmentary in form and content as a group show. As it happens, Madison does not work alone; he has become the inspirational driver of numerous intellectual and material collaborations that map out an intelligent system of self-sufficiency and accessibility. With each of these collaborations Madison touches upon alternative and unexpected streams of cultural production. Hence, he establishes an artistic identity that celebrates a poetry of ambiguity within cultural conventions of taste, value, utility and trade. The artefacts, videos and installations by Madison serve all these different qualifications in one fluid continuum and on equal terms.
The exhibition Do It To Do It features four large-scale corporations most of them still in development. The objects in the exhibition give way to carefully constructed trade structures of adding value, that merge artistic production with corporate methodology.
In his ongoing research into the heritage of Italian product designer Ettore Sottsass Madison started a continuing collaboration with artist/collector Ruedi Bechtler (*1942 in Zurich), who owns several originals by the Italian designer. The exhibition Do It To Do It shows a group of photographs produced together with Ruedi Bechtler. These images feature broken Sottsass vases that are introduced to strategies of cultural recycling and high tech product representation in todays media.
Another group of works, entiteled Yes I Can!, takes on the corporate message of the Radisson Hotel group to motivate each member of its staff to fulfill all the wishes of its costumers. Driving from Switzerland to China this summer, Madison collected a selection of Yes I Can! flags, cutting them from the facades of the Radisson hotels, as though the slogan was an invitation to do so. Upon his return, the flags turned into canvases, were painted collectively by Madison and his artist colleagues (such as Matias Faldbakken and John Tremblay) and redistributed as works of art in his institutional shows.
The iconicity of the Yes I Can! logo and its legibility to a common public increases the value of the work, while incorporated into paintings exhibited at an art institution, the logo gains new currency, that would even benefit the Radissons cultural identity. In a recent interview with Bart van der Heide, which is published in the exhibition folder, Madison mentions:
In order to steal a flag from the Radisson Hotel, you sometimes have to stay in the Radisson Hotel; and in order not to pay for your stay at the Radisson Hotel, you have to find a way to appeal to the company so they let you stay for free; and in order to do that, you need the backup of institutionalized collections that (a) pay for the work and (b) confirm its cultural value.
By taking on these different collaborations Madison maps out alternative structures of production within the visual art and the ethical parameters that are touched upon when strategies of self-sufficiency meet the growing internationalization in the art world of today. With this development artistic invention of visual artists is pushed to unlimited potential, and appreciation of value seems as open ended and multi faceted as the endless possibilities of production that are at his or her disposal these days.