Angelika Arendt / Pauline Bastard / Julian Charrière / Vadim Fishkin / Michael Kargl / Sophia Pompéry / Tomás Werner


Exhibition view Episode 1: rules of attraction, 2013. Photos: Pierre-Etienne Morelle.

»Episode 1: rules of attraction« opens on Thursday, May 23. With this show, insitu starts its exhibition cycle of six episodes that deal with fundamental questions surrounding the production of art: from the blank wall of the studio, to the jungle of the art market. »Episode 1: rules of attraction« is an attempt to approach the subject of beauty as a criterion of contemporary art. Realising that pure aesthetic is no longer a sufficient means to validate works, the curators chose to face a word that is currently almost taboo in art discourse: ›beauty‹.

The exhibition shows a selection of videos, sculptures, photographs and installations by seven international artists, each of them reflecting different positions of beauty, from a provocative seduction through to a behind-the-scenes revelation of illusion, always questioning the objectivity of the judgment on aesthetics as well as reflecting on definitions and constructions of beauty.

In the first room, Angelika Arendt‘s parasitical installation will not leave the viewer indifferent. On one hand her sculptures flirt with seductive attributes through their shiny colors and glittery curves, exerting magnetism like candy or a piece of jewellery, on the other hand the over-saturated ornaments verge on a kitschy aesthetic, confronting the viewer with the sensitive issue of taste.

The photo–cycle »Beautiful Pictures« (2009) by Tomás Werner depicts the same romantic landscape five times with a very traditional composition, including a perspective of the hills, a tree and a person laying down. The artist asked five different photolabs to develop the same negative following their own criteria of what should be a beautiful picture. The results surprisingly differ in their treatment of the color, contrasts and other aspects, thus demonstrating very individual interpretations of what is beautiful.

Following this line of research into an objective categorization of beauty, Michael Kargl extracted all the possible colors that a digital screen can display for his work »All you can see« (2008). With a duration of 8 days, the video shows the chromatic phases (approx. 17 million) of a digital screen from white to the black. In this production, the subject is dispensed and color is employed purely for its own sake.

In the second room, Pauline Bastard’s installation »Sunset« (2009) is made with low-cost and manufactured elements such as plastic foils, a mini fan, and digital devices. Despite a setup that looks almost arbitrary, the whole mechanism projects the precise image of a sunset on the sea, worthy of the most clichéd postcards. By highlighting the behind the scenes more than the scene itself, Bastard emphasizes the artifice of the spectacle.

The photograph »Panorama« (2011) by Julian Charrière shows what seems to be a landscape of snow-capped mountains, certainly one of the most used motifs in the romantic representation of beauty. Upon closer observation, one can recognize that the ›mountains‹ are in fact a close-up of piles of rubbish taken in building-sites of Berlin, covered in chalk powder. The artist challenges the viewer’s preconceptions and questions the origin of beauty’s archetype.

In her video »Miralamentira« (2009) Sophia Pompéry‘s fascination with ›reflection‹ results in a vain research of her own face, where she is filmed as Narcissus gazing back at herself in a pool of water. Bringing eighteenth-century portrait miniatures to mind, the artist uses subdued colors and a very calm image to explore the mythical dilemma of unfulfilled love and longing for oneself. To prevent freezing in admiration of her own beauty, Pompéry manages to release herself in a subtly humorous act by simply drinking the source of her reflection.

Finally, the interactive installation »Magic Button« (2007/2009) by Vadim Fishkin sits like the cherry on top. By accumulating all kinds of attractive effects from the field of visual entertainment such as the dark room, interactive red button, 3Dfx and soap bubbles, the work addresses the spectator with its confession that its own essence is based on artifice and simulation.

Artists: Angelika Arendt (DE), Pauline Bastard (FR), Julian Charrière (CH), Vadim Fishkin (RU), Michael Kargl (AT), Sophia Pompéry (DE) and Tomás Werner (SK)

Curators: Marie Graftieaux, Nora Mayr and Gilles Neiens.