Hypnosis as an artistic action: Daniele Buetti (*1955) invites visitors of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
to participate in collective meditative hypnosis. The prominent contemporary Swiss artist has developed, for the first time, a sound installation for the freely accessible Schirn Rotunda: Its all in the mind. It is based on an audio experience (a 28-minute-loop) in which the public is directly included by means of hypnosis. The installation focuses on a so-called color cleansing, a guided meditation technique that can be traced back to Dr. Arno Müller, a retired psychology professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt am Main. While relaxing on cushions in the Rotunda, visitors will be asked to visualize the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. In this ceremony, each color operates as a representative or thing. Bringing the colors to mind is believed to liberate participants from burdensome feelings or negative thought patterns. Most decisive is the effect that the professors hypnotic speech act emphatic and clear as on the listeners body. The color cleansing is intended to help each participant recharge his mental and emotional resources. By transferring hypnosis into the public space of the Schirn Rotunda and into the context of an artwork, Daniele Buetti breaks with intimacy, one of the basic conditions of hypnosis sessions. At the same time, the artist addresses the fascination that radiates from hypnotic states, mind-expanding rites, esotericism, and spirituality. In a day and age in which youths meet at so-called Holi festivals to celebrate explosions of color, Daniele Buetti artistically extends the question of how colors take effect and what they can bring about. Visitors and passers-by not only participate, they are an essential part of an art action that focuses on the hypnotic experience, self-examination, and transforming the human psyche. Any visible colors have been removed from the space of the Rotunda. As the title indicates, color suggestion and color cleansing take place in the visitors mind. The boundaries between happening and serious science become blurred. Daniele Buettis installation occupies the seemingly unprotected and soulless Schirn Rotunda and lends it new meaning; it becomes a place where people can examine themselves.
Without setting himself artistic boundaries, Daniele Buetti has been a keen observer of people and their desires, dreams, as well as their fears, problems, and neuroses for more than 25 years. He has now created a unique and, in the truest sense of the word, hypnotic space specifically for the Schirn: for the entire summer, Its all in the mind transforms the Rotunda into a site of contemplation, a site for people to surrender themselves to art, says Max Hollein, director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt.
Curator Matthias Ulrich adds: Daniele Buettis works testify to a search for meaning and truthfulness. In his most recent work colors serve as the elements that bring about meaning in themselves. He thereby joins the modern art historical discourse on the impact, appearance, and meaning of colors that generations of artists engaged in Constructivists, Expressionists, or color field painters. Buetti transports this discourse into the present age.
Daniele Buetti, born in 1955 in Fribourg, is one of the most important contemporary Swiss artists with an international reputation. He lives and works in Zurich; he has also been a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Münster since 2004. His early actions entitled Flügelkreuz, reminiscent of the Dada movement in Zurich, testify to a form of energy that can be transferred with the aid of artistic means. Buetti became an ambassador for his Flügelkreuz brand, and he developed it with a variety of content, whether as a manifesto (Das Flügelkreuz tragen [Dir zuliebe], 1990) or as a label for a pair of socks on sale (A Man Is His Job, 1993/94).
The artist achieved international recognition in the nineties for his manipulation of fashion photographs from commercial, fashion, and lifestyle magazines by means of brand names or ornamental scribbling (Looking for Love, 199498). His interventions on the back of the images caused the faces and bodies of the models on the front to look scarred, wounded, maltreated, and burned. The ruined icons of the obsession with beauty are not only part of the canon of contemporary art, unlike almost any other images they tell of the credible and addictive promises of a consumer- and brand-name-oriented society. Buetti addresses the superficiality and power of the advertising industry by availing himself of its aesthetics. His interest in the aura of images and the people they depict as well as his concern with the auratic in religion or spirituality are discernible in his entire oeuvre.
Primary features of Buettis artistic work are site-specific performances and installations. In New York, he drew the names of well-known brand names such as Apple, Ford, Chrysler, Dior, or McDonalds onto the naked skin of passers-by in exchange for a dollar (Good Fellows, 1994). In Zurich he had everything removed from a museum, including its infrastructure, blacked out its windows, and had paint, dirt, and peat run down the walls, creating a spatial Gesamtkunstwerk that visitors could walk through under the influence of space-consuming sounds (Auf allen Knien, 2003).
Besides numerous solo and group exhibitions in Berlin, Istanbul, Cologne, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Sydney, and other venues, Daniele Buettis works are an integral part of prominent European collections of contemporary and modern art, such as the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Zurich), the Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation (Salzburg), the Maison Europeene de la Photographie (Paris), the museums of the ZKM, Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, or the MNCARS, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid). Works by Daniele Buetti were last shown at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in 2006 within the scope of the exhibition The Youth of Today.