Generali Foundation

Behind the Fourth Wall

02 Jun - 15 Aug 2010

© Wendelien van Oldenborgh
No False Echoes, 2008
Courtesy Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam
Fictitious Lives – Lived Fictions

Opening: Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 7 p.m.
Exhibition showing: June 2 – August 15, 2010

With works by Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Michael Fliri, Andrea Geyer, Marcello Maloberti, Aernout Mik, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Judy Radul, Allan Sekula, Ian Wallace

Few things have made such an impact on the world order as the crises of the last year or so. After more than twelve months spent in a state of suspense, awaiting the predicted disaster, a détente was declared with carefully guided caution, although this could not con-ceal the fact that current forms of knowledge transfer and criticism merely veil "the horror of the real" (Slavoj Žižek) behind the mask of the fictitious. Virtual institutions, designed to effectively shape our thinking and desires, prompt the question of whether the difference between being and mere appearances has perhaps long since vanished, with reality becoming an impenetrable surface.

This situation constitutes the point of departure for the exhibition: the artists focus on the difficulty of establishing a site of critical reflection within today’s media sphere. The aesthetic of avantgarde cinema—with its inclusion of the theatrical and the performative—as well as Bertolt Brecht’s distancing effect offer ways of harnessing the "Fourth wall" as an instrument of analysis, thus proposing alter-natives to alienated life.

The exhibition attempts to activate Diderot’s idea of the Fourth wall as the aesthetic interface between media product and the resulting inner image. Like the screen in the cinema, the "see-through" wall creates a distance between stage and auditorium. Diderot’s mise-en-scène—a sequence of emotionally charged tableaux vivants de-scribing a complex and deceptive play on the presence and ab-sence of a Fourth wall—opens up the possibility of viewing reality in the distorting mirror of its multiple perspectives. On the basis of this analysis and the resulting insights, emancipatory action may once more become possible. The featured artists examine micropolitical communities and transform social fields into dramatic settings, dissecting their structures via rhetorics borrowed from theater and film. Documentary, (auto)biographical, and fictitious material is used in a critical questioning of the current state of the world we live in.

Curator: Ilse Lafer

Tags: Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Michael Fliri, Andrea Geyer, Marcello Maloberti, Aernout Mik, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Judy Radul, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Allan Sekula, Ian Wallace