Ruth Barker, Directions for a Radioplay, Installation View, detail,theAgency., 2016
Andrea Heller, Untitled, Installation View, Interior, theAgency., 2016
Ulla von Brandenburg, 7 Ribbons, 2016
Zilla Leutnegger, Zilla, Installation View, theAgency., 2016
Man Ray, Ruth Barker, Sovay Berriman, Ulla von Brandenburg,
Andrea Heller, Dominique Koch, Zilla Leutenegger, Loredana Sperini
5 Oct 2016 - 12th Dec 2016
Complimentary to the ongoing progressive work with contemporary international positions theAgency. also presents historical works in curatorial contexts in order to inspire and challenge artists. In 2006 for example a work by Gines Parra (1896-1960) was employed as a key work for contemporary painting positions. In 2015 works by Franco Vaccari (1936) und Ariel Reichman (1979) were presented in a joint exhibition to examine conceptual parallels in their work.
This year a small late Dada assemblage in ink and watercolour by Man Ray (1890-1976), “Les Papillons qui tombent du ciel ont soif “, serves as the central reference in a group exhibition entitled “Strange Attractor“ featuring female artists whose practice engages with principles of modernism. The Assemblage “Les Papillons qui tombent du ciel ont soif “ (1958) is part of a series of works made intermittently since 1930, which feature the motif of the butterfly. It is a very personal, playful piece by Man Ray, an engagement with something beautiful and everyday, which fascinated him again and again throughout his career as an artist and thinker. Man Ray has always been governed by conceptual rather than formal continuity which allows us to consider historical and contemporary concepts concurrently.
Two strands of thought influence the interplay of works in the exhibition: Papillon (Butterfly) reminds of light, lightness, fast and colourful movement, the ephemeral and shadows. The butterfly as a signifier can also refer to the mathematical term “Strange Attractor“ or “Butterfly Effect“, which was discovered by Edward Lorenz in 1963. It describes the phenomenon of fractal maths, where minor differentiations in the initial set of calculations can lead to various radically different outcomes over the longer term.
Mimicking this approach enables the reflection of Man Ray’s loosely associative assemblage. This occurs through the systematic use of symmetries in Sperini’s work, frames within frames and the stage as conceptual medium in Heller and Leutenegger, the private object and gesture in Barker’s performance work or radial and associative processes in the selected pieces by von Brandenburg, Koch and Berriman. The works are juxtaposed based on linear as well as conceptual connections, without pre-supposing a direct connection, allowing for new patterns or dialectics to occur. The connecting thread in the scattering of works is a common interest in the modern project, directly and from more remote positions.
The multiple dialogues with “Les Papillons…”, which every work and every artist will invariably conduct from changing individual positions create a fascinating and purposefully unstable platform for communication, where the temporal aspect does not matter and fresh spatial and conceptual discourses become possible.
Man Ray (Philadelphia, 1890- 1976) was born as Emmanuel Radnitzky in South Philadelphia, USA in 1890. He was the eldest child of Russian Jewish Immigrants. At this time he lived in Brooklyn, New York. 1915 he organised his first solo exhibition in the Daniel Gallery. At this time he met Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. Man Ray, Picabia and Duchamp instigated the foundation of the Dada-Movement in New York. He produced his first significant photographs in 1918. In 1920, Man Ray helped Duchamp make the Rotary Glass Plates, oneof the earliest examples of kinetic art. It was composed of glass plates turned by a motor. That same year, Man Ray, Katherine Dreier, and Duchamp founded the Société Anonyme, an itinerant collection that was the first museum of modern art in the U.S.A. One year later he left the United States and settled in Paris. There he joined the Dadaists and soon became one of their leading members. In Paris he created portraits of famous contemporary personalities, especially the surrealists. Man Ray experimented with photography and developed the so "Rayogrammes". Around 1924 Surrealism evolves from Dadaism and Man Ray pushed this development to a large degree, with works such as “ Cadeau” 1921 and "Le Violin d`Ingres". Later works such as "A l`heure de l`observatoire – Les amoureux", 1932/33 and "L`echiquier surrealiste" 1934 followed. 1935 he created the first well known photographic work entitled “Papillon”, a silverprint, 18 x 23 cm. 1940 Man Ray leaves Paris again, initially for New York and later Hollywood. There he worked as a lecturer. 1951 he returned to Paris, where he was celebrated as a great success. Three years after creating the assemblage “Les papillons, qui tombent… “ in 1958, which is shown as part of “ Strange Attractor”, he received the gold medal at the Venice Biennial.
Ruth Barker (Leeds, 1979), lives and works in Glasgow. She specialises on performance art and performative writing. In 2013 she was nominated as Canongate's 'Future 40. Her exhibtions this year include Mega Hammer in collaboration with Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Glasgow International, Glasgow, April 2016, the Freud Museum, London, as part of “Tall Tales”, April 2016, The Space Beneath My Skin Is Closed To My Reason Today for: A Goddess for a Beauty Centre, Online performance with Yeo Chee Kiong, curated by Yen Peng, NAFA Singapore, May 2016 and a public Memorial for the Staffin Crofter's Uprising 1870, ATLAS Arts, Isle of Skye is in preparation.
Sovay Berriman (Penzance, 1972) lives and works in London and Cornwall. She works conceptually with sculpture, drawing, text and performative happenings, which often evolve over the longer term or as collective practice models. Social phenomena such as responsibility, engagement and education are themes which take centre-stage in Berriman’s practice, often within actual or assumed group dynamics. Exhibitions and projects: Molluscs Hunt Wizards (2014–ctd), the sculptural „drawing“ Entertainment Suite (2010-ctd), last seen in: Oculist Witnesses: according to Duchamp (2015), Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, curated by Clarissa Corfe.
Ulla von Brandenburg (1974, Karlsruhe) lives and works in Paris. Her works combine black and white film, installations, drawings and paintings. She is nominated for this year’s Prix Marcel Duchamp. Selected Solo exhibitions: Manchmal Ja, manchmal Nein [Sometimes yes, sometimes no], Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2016); It has a golden sun and an elderly grey moon, ACCA, Melbourne (2016); Yesterday and Today is Tomorrow is also like this, Kasseler Kunsteverein, Kassel (2015); Ulla von Brandenburg: Wagon Wheel, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis (2015); Selected Group exhibitions: Sink Down Mountain, Rise Up Valley, Performa 15, New York (2015); Accrochage 3: Pop & Musique/Son, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2015); After Dark, MAMCO, Geneva (2015); Vidéodanse, Le corps en jeu, Space 315, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015); 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, Sydney (2014); Film as Sculpture, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2013); Intense Proximite, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Making Worlds, 53rd International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale, Venice (2009); The World as a Stage, Tate Modern, London (2007).
Andrea Heller (Zürich, 1975) lives and works in Evilard and Biel/Bienne. Central to her work are drawings and installations. Selected Exhibitions 2015: ‘Paradoxie des Haufens’, Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf (solo); ‘Inhabitations. Phantasmen des Körpers in der Gegenwartskunst’, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau; 2014: Winner of the „Prix Anderfuhren“, Museum Centre Pasquart, Biel/Bienne (solo); ‘Die Meise benutzt die Haare des Mädchens, um damit ihr Nest zu polstern’, Scheublein + Bak, Zurich (solo); Elements, The Agency, London (solo).
Dominique Koch (Luzern,1983), lives and works in Basel and Paris. Her works combine text, video and sound as well as drawing and installation. Selected exhibitions: Beyond Chattering and Noise, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris (2015, solo); Nietzsche, Cyclists and Mushrooms. Language in contemporary art after the iconic turn, Kunst Raum Riehen (2015, group); How to Play, Galerie Annex14, Zürich (2015,group); Jetzt wird es wieder Zeit uns mit den Emotionen zu befassen, Galerie
Jochen Hempel, Berlin (2014, solo); Surfaces – New Photography from Switzerland, Fotomuseum Winterthur (2014, group).
Zilla Leutenegger (Zürich, 1968)
Since 1996 Zilla Leutenegger exhibits internationally in solo and group projects and since 1998 she is represented by the galleries Stampa in Basel and Peter Kilchmann in Zürich. Selected recent solo exhibitions: Tintarella di Luna, Bündner Kunstmuseum, 2016, Sitzübung, Galerie Stampa, September-November 2016, Walls, Musée Jenish, Vevey 2016, ring my bell, Pinakothek der Moderne, München 2015, moondiver, Galerie Peter Kilchmann Zürich, 2015, 13 Räume, Museum Morsbroich, Köln, 2013- Januar 2014, Perro durmeindo, Centro de Arte, Burgos, 2014
Loredana Sperini (Lichtensteig, 1970) lives and works in Zürich. Her focus is on painting and sculpture. Selected current exhibitions: 2016: Il cielo in una stanza, Kunstmuseum St.Gallen (solo); 2015: si fa sera, Fondation du Château de Gruyères (solo), Hauser&Wirth Collection, Henau (solo), Diamonds Always Come In Small Packages, Kunstmuseum Luzern (group), WAX, Francesco Pantaleone arte Contemporanea, Palermo (group); 2014: il cielo in una stanza, Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zürich (solo), mi ritorna in mente, Kunsthalle São Paulo (solo); Im Hier und Jetzt! Schweizer Kunst der letzten 30 Jahre aus der Sammlung Kunst Heute, Kunstmuseum Bern (group).