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Urs Fischer - False Friends: A selection of the Dakis Joannou Collection in Geneva for the first time
Installation View, Urs Fischer – False Friends. Museum of Art and History of Geneva (April 28 – July 27, 2016). Copyright MAH, Courtesy of the DESTE Foundation. Photo by Flora Bevilacqua.

GENEVA.- The Museum of Art and History of Geneva welcomes the DESTE Foundation, introducing the exhibition Urs Fischer – False Friends, in collaboration with of ART for The World. Urs Fischer – False Friends brings together a selection of works from the Dakis Joannou Collection. Conceived as an unusual synthesis between a solo show and a group exhibition, False Friends pairs works by a range of highly recognized artists with an ensemble of 20 works by Swiss artist Urs Fischer (b. 1973).

In False Friends, Urs Fischer's work is seen alongside sculptures and paintings by artists such as Pawel Althamer, Maurizio Cattelan, Fischli and Weiss, Robert Gober, Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman and Kiki Smith, all of whom engage with fundamental themes in the history of art – the representation of the human body, the transformative power of materials, and the virtues of subtle observations.

Establishing unexpected connections between artworks and aesthetics, methods and materials, False Friends traces similarities and differences among a group of artists whose work has animated and sustained critical debates in contemporary art throughout the past thirty years.

The work of Urs Fischer, one of the most innovative Swiss artists of his generation, is central to False Friends. Fischer celebrates metamorphosis and change through works that reveal a particular attention to process and time. Coupling the legacy of Pop art with a neo-baroque taste for the absurd, Fischer’s creative universe trembles under the forces of entropy, decay and failure. With materials both organic and durable – from wax and bread to aluminum and bronze – Fischer’s work invites a complex reflection on the function of monuments and the frailty of life, a meditation that becomes even more peculiar when observed in the grand spaces of Geneva's Museum of Art and History.

Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, False Friends continues the tradition of experimental exhibitions organized by Dakis Joannou’s DESTE Foundation, celebrating the 33rd anniversary of the not-for-profit organization which was founded in Geneva in 1983. Since its creation, the DESTE Foundation has invited a range of artists and curators, including Andreas Angelidakis, Maurizio Cattelan, Jeffrey Deitch, Urs Fischer, M/M (Paris), Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, and Haim Steinbach among others, to generate creative interpretations of the collection in exhibitions held at various museums around the world.

Exhibition Concept
In language and translation studies, False Friends describes words in various languages that look or sound alike but differ in meaning. As the title of the exhibition, the expression “false friends” suggests couplings of works that appear similar but are profoundly different, offering a reading of the Dakis Joannou Collection – and, equally, of contemporary art – as a magnetic field traversed by lines of tension that trace both elective affinities and striking variations.

Throughout the exhibition space, sympathetic relationships and dramatic dissonances resonate, establishing surprising dialogues across the works of different artists. As a result, the exhibition unravels as a cacophonic concerto of forms and interpretations, playing both with and against conventions.

In the first room of the exhibition, Urs Fischer’s sculptures, paintings, and installations are interspersed with works by Jeff Koons and Fischli and Weiss, which appear to reinterpret ancient statuary traditions. Koons’s busts both celebrate and undermine the monumentality that signals official representations of power, and a similar attitude recurs in many works throughout the exhibition – particularly in Fischer’s equestrian sculpture and Maurizio Cattelan’s iconoclastic and irreverent gestures.

A darker sensibility pervades other sections of the exhibition, where familiar objects assume uncanny presences. Cindy Sherman’s ghostly apparitions contrast with one of Robert Gober’s early dollhouses, whose eeriness is also juxtaposed with Fischer’s melting candles and his aluminum cast of a piano that seems to liquefy like wax.

In the final majestic room of the east wing of the museum, the mirrored sculptures of Fischer’s Concert/Cornichon (2011) initiate a succession of artworks in which surfaces and materials play off one another in multiple reflections: the inflated forms of Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (1995–98) are in dialogue with Martin Kippenberger’s pneumatic sculpture Memorial of the Good Old Time (1987), and one of Koons’s “Antiquity” paintings is presented near the crumbling walls of Fischer’s legendary Bread House (2004-2006), which resembles an ancient ruin but is, in fact, fashioned out of bread and wood.

Fischer’s peculiar type of magical realism reverberates throughout the exhibition, establishing unexpected and intriguing correspondences among the works on view by continuously drifting between resemblance and difference.

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