German-Swiss artist Dieter Roth (1930-98) worked with obsessive energy and his prolific output included installation, sculpture, drawing, video, assemblage and books. All of his work was a diary of sorts - a record of his relentless and impassioned engagement with life - and this exhibition takes his diaries as its central theme. Dieter Roth: Diaries runs at Camden Arts Centre
from 17 May 14 July 2013 and admission is free.
The exhibition provides an extraordinary insight into Roths life and work through his personal diaries. A version of this exhibition was shown at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and this extended version now presents the diaries along with other works in London for the first time. These intimate books served as agendas, 'to do' lists, journals to recording past events, as well as more meditative reflections and the working through of his artistic ideas via drawings, photographs and poems, all teaming with graphic exuberance. The diaries demonstrate the indivisibility of his art and life, and his concern with authorship, self-portraiture and autobiography. The exhibition also includes three major installations and other series of works that act as portraits of the artist, as Roths shorthand for the passage of time and his journey through it.
Roths extensive series of works, Tischmatten (Tablemats) are added to the selection of works from the Fruitmarket Gallery. An extension of his diaries, the tablemats were also sites for impulsive mark-making - jotting down of urgent thoughts or ideas. A group of large-scale paintings, Kleiderbild (Clothes Paintings) made between1984 and 87 have also been added. Roths body was often obscured from his self-portraits and in Clothes Paintings it is absented entirely, circumscribed only by the garments he wore. Roth, a German-Swiss domiciled in Iceland, spoke of his sense of ever-shifting subjectivity. In his diaries, Tablemats and Clothes Paintings it was as if these traces of his existence were the best means to approach an elusive, unstable identity.
Flat Waste is a large installation of ring binders containing the detritus of every day life, archived by Roth with only one guiding principle: everything must be flatter than two or three sixteenths of an inch. It recorded the vagaries of Roths life - things ordinarily discarded such as old food wrappers, receipts, all traces of his daily activities. In its obsession with waste and decay Flat Waste underlines Roths attention to lifes inseparable forces: creation and destruction, life and death.
This theme is addressed most directly and poignantly in his final work: Solo Scenes. Arguably the most intimate self-portrait of all, embracing the medium of video as a diary in real-time, he captured the daily activities of the last year of his life (sleeping, washing, eating, making art) on 131 videos shown simultaneously on a grid of televisions. Roth died whilst this work was still being made.
Dieter Roth: Diaries was organised by The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh in 2012 as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and has been reconfigured by Camden Arts Centre to include additional works.
Dieter Roth was born in 1930 in Hanover, Germany and died in 1998 in Basel, Switzerland. He lived in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland and the USA. His work is exhibited widely internationally. He represented Switzerland at the 1982 Venice Biennale, and received numerous awards and prizes. The Dieter Roth Estate is represented by Hauser and Wirth