OT: Die Sammlung (Cage)
OT: Die Sammlung (Cage)
Tableau (Cage)
OT: Die Sammlung (Goya, Broodthaers)
OT: Die Sammlung (Goya)
OT: Die Sammlung (Goya)
OT: Die Sammlung (Broodthaers)
OT: Die Sammlung (Roth)
OT: Die Sammlung (Roth)

On Translation: Die Sammlung, 2006

Muntadas has examined the art market, and especially the museum, in numerous projects with respect to their visible and invisible structures, regulations and discourses.

“On Translation: Die Sammlung” refers to the standard elements of museum presentation. At the same time it deals with certain art formats which resist the ideology of the museum: drawings, editions, multiples, objects etc, that do not exist as unique pieces but in several editions and sometimes in broad circulation. On the basis of local art collections, the basic idea of the project is to define a selection of editions and to present these together with their pendants from various other museums. Of central importance in this approach is that each of the various editions is loaned along with its base, frame, label etc.

“On Translation: Die Sammlung” displayed four copies of the multiple “Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel” by John Cage published in 125 editions as well as three from a total of 250 “Karnickelköttelkarnickel” by Dieter Roth. Goya’s series of drawing “Los Desastres de la Guerra” (sheet 66 to 75 and in bound form), Marcel Broodthaers’ photographic work “Ein Eisenbahnüberfall” and Timm Ulrich’s silk screen “bild” could also be viewed in three or four editions.

By bringing together “identical” works, Muntadas breaks through the “Aura” of the unique piece which the museum, presenting as a rule only one copy of editions, insists on retaining, consequently suppressing the multiple character of these works. At the same time, only by the juxtaposed presentation of the “same” does the form of presentation become evident, namely, by inscribing itself into the meaning and perception of art. The “Karnickelköttelkarnickel” presented on a white base and under a Plexiglass shell, for instance, appears far more vividly as an autonomous, single object than is the case when presented in a display vitrine, where it can be viewed along with other objects.

In the case of “Desastres de La Guerre”, different frames and passepartouts sometimes enhance the serial character of the work while, at others, the valency of each single sheet. Base, frame, vitrine, lighting, mounting or the spatial arrangement are not neutral but interpretative and constitutive instruments of the presentation of art. The most diverse of discourses intervene here: those of the artist, the institution, the curators, architects, designers, restorers etc.

The work “Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel” by John Cage, comprising a total of eight objects, was acquired in its entirety by some museums, whereas others only possess one of them. The Kunsthalle Bremen, on the other hand, bought all of the eight objects, though, due to the local architectonic conditions, it displays only six of them. Those museums which display the work only in part tend not to indicate this circumstance in the descriptive labels. Furthermore, another thing that can be generally observed is that the edition objects in museums are only seldomly indicated as such, that is, even the labelling presents them as unique pieces.

Each single object of Cage’s work again consists of eight, pressed Plexiglass segments fastened behind one another on a wooden disc. The Museum am Ostwall, which, like the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, only possesses one single object of the edition, displays the piece in a glass vitrine and, furthermore, mounted a Plexiglass top directly on the object identifying this in the catalogue as part of the work. Even Timm Ulrichs’ silk-screen, the complete edition of which is produced together with each of the identical frames, can be reconstructed according to different presentational policies: thus, the labelling of the work in the Museum Ritter includes the number of the audio guide.

Alongside the comparison of diverse forms of presentation of edition works, “On Translation: Die Sammlung” is also a reflection on those institutional sets of regulations which, although negotiated outside the exhibition space, still have an effect on it: loan contracts, standards of inventory and description, insurance value, information on purchase etc. Namely, for each edition object a sort of synopses was produced which listed diverse data, in so far as the research of these was possible and authorised for publication. They showed that the different museums not only present their works in various forms but also differ in their ways of registration, description or preservation.

“On Translation: Die Sammlung” points to a series of “protocols” inherent to the museum. At the same time, the “protocols” were broken through at various levels. This is how the visitors encountered the works of a series of renowned artists, which at the same time appear as someone else’s project. Here, each work is confronted with contradictory readings: and not only because these oscillate between various authorships but also because the perspective on the autonomous works was shifted to apparently secondary presentational elements. Moreover, the exhibition published information which the museum, as a rule, disconnects from the audience. Beyond this, “On Translation: Die Sammlung” is a project which, although repeatable in terms of its conception, is nevertheless radically incalculable and of a limited permanence in it realisation.

(Iris Dressler, excerpt, catalogue)

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