15 OCTOBER – 20 NOVEMBER 2005
We are very happy to be able to present Manuel Graf’s first solo exhibition. In this exhibition, the artist, born in 1978 and a recent graduate of Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, is showing the installation Ping Pong. In a rich collection in images, Ping Pong continues ideas that the artist explored in his video work 1000 Jahre sind ein Tag (2004). While this older work was a film that focused on architecture from various eras located within a continuum of change and quotation, this time Manuel Graf invites us to enter an installative presentation. He does this by confronting the space of the contemporary gallery as an institutional achievement of modernism with sculpture, film, light dramaturgy, and music as a projection surface with a kind of visual installation history.
Manuel Graf, Ping Pong, 2005, Mixed-Media-Videoinstallation; Skulptur; Draht, Gips, Pappmaschee, Video, 7′, Farbe, Ton. © Courtesy of the artist.
On entering the gallery, the visitors are presented with a stage-like arrangement bathed in golden light. On a bright rug separating the installation from the gallery space, a plaster sculpture is placed a knee-high, furniture-like plinth. This is made up of three connected, cell-like volumes, which seen together might be an architectural model, or perhaps a collection of plaster casts of human body parts. On the wall above the sculpture, a film is projected showing various architectural constructions in transformed form. In contrast to the expressivity of the sculpture, the film primarily consists of deconstructed computer images.
In the sequences of the film, two architectural creations are showed with possible post-modern variations: a plaster model of Rudolf Steiner’s Goetheanum from around 1910 and the contemporary design of Greg Lynn’s 2005 Arc of the World. A virtual camera movement leads through a further amorphous structure—the fictive realization of Friederich Kiessler’s Endless House from 1959. The “Flight” through Kiessler’s design leads then in one place under the sounds of “It’s the Return” by the group Antipopkonsortium back through the architectures (and thus various eras) and “lands” at the beginning in the Goetheanum. At the end of the film, music by Eloy sounds while at the same time a light goes on, projecting an overpowering, expressive silhouette of the plaster sculpture onto the white cube wall. Now the loop begins from the beginning, and the ping pong ball sounds from the beginning are again heard.
Models (and hence utopias) through the year 2005, each “progressive” in a sense, lead in the installation back to the turn of the last century, and before: Goethe’s theory of plants, for example, which questioned the scientific method of his time. We also stop off in 1959 at Friedrich Kiessler’s idea of the Endless House, which in the film even seems like a gate in time. The result is a back and forth, a ping ponging that traces out two directions of time and place. The ball changes its location, is played back, thus returning to the older place, repeating the same action but in a different time. A step forwards can just as easily be a historical step back, and nonetheless forwards. And so on…