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07 Jul 2010


eight plinths


matthew burbidge | sonja ostermann


maxstr. 1
13347 berlin

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For the opening show at Essays and Observations, we decided to ask some artists to show us what their position was vis-à-vis the plinth.

If one follows Marcel Broodthaers -and some others- in considering all visual art production to have an object status (with the exception of film and text): then what is the position of the plinth, so obviously also an object, so often taking a 'servile' position to what is placed on top of it? Many artists, some curators, have attempted to integrate the work and its support structure: whether frame, framework, exhibition architecture, or plinth. But equally many, some, appear not to have even considered these questions, happy that a 'clear' and conventional background to their work will expedite its positive reception. We at Essays and Observations wonder at this attitude and are tempted to call it 'laziness' (although we ourselves do not know even what this 'laziness' could mean, so we're working on a show about it for next year).

We invited the following people to show us what they think: Albrecht Schaefer, Ben Carter, Celine Condorelli & Gavin Wade, Ivan Seal, Jacqueline Doyen, Kane Do, Tommy Stockel and Wolf von Kries.

To make it easier, or harder, we arranged to get plinths that had been used in an institutional context: 3 from Hamburger Bahnhof, and 5 from the Neue Nationalgalerie. And the show is somehow split- we have about 50 per cent of what has been called 'institutional critique', whereas others have come up with something that is often called 'formal critique'. In some cases this split cannot be so easily discerned, and creates in us a sense of uneasiness which we welcome.

We must here express our profound thanks to Lutz Driever of the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, and of course the artists listed above for making this show possible. In addition, all the people who took time out to help us with the extensive renovations of the former-shop in Berlin Wedding that has become Essays and Observations. You know who you are.

Matthew Burbidge
Sonja Ostermann