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26 Oct 2008

THE HOUSE at NYEHAUS :: RothStauffenberg :: curated by Adina Popescu

© RothStauffenberg

Nov 6th – December 20, 2008 :: RothStauffenberg


Opening reception November 6th from 7-9PM

(212) 995 - 1785
(212) 473 - 4994

15 Gramercy Park South
New York. NY 10003
T. (212) 995-1785

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On Frozen Time and Differing Spaces

curated by Adina Popescu

It is not about YOU, it is about THEM In their installation works the Berlin based artist duo RothStauffenberg recreate places that were at some point inhabited and enlivened by real experiences. Like abandoned stages, frozen in time, the physical memory of a long lost architecture or cartography is being rebuilt. RothStauffenberg always create places that could be everywhere and nowhere, and in this sense are reminiscent of Resnais' L'année dernière à Marienbad: A place consisting of at least two spaces.

The experience of space, just as in music, is perhaps more forcefully remembered through one's sense of orientation, namely that of a body which once moved through those rooms: In RothStauffenberg's Installations the lights that flicker on and off, music, sound, and reverberations all help us to determine distance in the darkness. It is an experience that cannot be immediately shared, as the viewer is isolated from others. The spaces created in their works are often restricted and one is encouraged to move about in the rooms in order to sense the whole. They evoke the feeling of entering a cinematic space; as if one was almost able to touch things, but will never make contact. And yet the logic of these constructed spaces gives way to a narration which slowly starts taking shape: Perhaps there is an obscene extraterrestrial glass object, of which one can only make out its vague spatial coordinates, and this object has forced itself into our story. However, these objects are nothing more than props and 'MacGuffins', as Hitchcock called them, that drive the narrative forward to lead us to this singular occurrence, one which always escapes us in the long run. 'What happened on New Years Eve 1980/81?' The Grande Hotel in Beira was built by the Portuguese during the period of their colonial rule of Mozambique. With 370 rooms, an Olympic pool and a heliport, it was the biggest hotel on the continent and was called the 'Pride of Africa'. After closing in the early sixties, its existence became closely linked to the history of Mozambique as many hidden, yet politically decisive events took place in its vast halls and corridors. Since the early 1980s, the hotel has progressively been taken over by illegal squatters and has now swelled up to 3,000 people who are forming, in a foucaultian sense, a micro-society: a resort as a nation.

The last official event that took place in the Grande Hotel was a New Years Eve party in 1980/81. In 2007 RothStauffenberg brought various masks and Mozart's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' to the Grande Hotel, with the aim of exchanging masks with residents living there and to celebrate with a masquerade ball. But this is just the beginning of a story— like any other story. From this ball, an ongoing narrative began to unfold.

The main installation in the former library recreates a 'location' which possibly refers to the last event officially celebrated at the Grande Hotel in 1980/81. 'What happened on New Years Eve 1980/81?' represents an attempt to recreate the notion of an event that escapes us. This notion refers to this always-already-missing part in the puzzle of the constant re-writing of history— a missing piece which might never be found, and which could link the telling of a histories in other possible ways.

RothStauffenberg live and work in Berlin. Their last show in the US was a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2007. Their most recent presentation in Europe was a faux-indoor swimming pool at Basel Art Unlimited 2008. Since 2007 RothStauffenberg have been working on their first feature film entitled 'The Kingdom of Mozartbique.' RothStauffenberg is represented by Gallery Esther Schipper, Berlin. Their book 'Based on a True Story' was published last month by Edition Patrick Frey.