Text for the sonderausstellung in the kunsthaus langenthal, Switzerland, october 2005
link to flaca http://www.flaca.co.uk/


If one considers all the shows that have opened this year, this one would definitely be one of the best.

I have never been in Langenthal before, and I will certainly be surprised if I go there again. An interesting feature of the town that I discovered is an urban design feature that leads floodwater from the river passing through the middle of the town over the main street through the town out to the countryside. The museum is situated at the point where the water can over flow out of the riverbed and over to the emergency course. The building had a commercial function when it was built, then later a political function. It was only in 1991 that it became a location for cultural activities, especially art exhibitions. It is said that the building was the kick-off for Langenthal’s urbanisation. This has as less to do with the show, than the show with Langenthal. But it happened in Langenthal, this is important to be reminded of.  And one might leave and speculate how the small town’s urbanisation process will take advantage of this Sonderausstellung, having called out to offer itself as a temporary outbuilding of the Londonian headquarters. Being there was for me like being in a further extension of Flaca’s Backyard: A light-speed capsule connecting Glasgow, Flaca/London and Frankfurt a.m. 


The next morning I went to the station to finish my trip, considering Langenthal as an excursion on my own way from Zurich to Lausanne. On the platform for both directions, east and west, I met a curator of another art museum from another Swiss town. How to avoid a thought about how time and space, things and people fit in grids that we endlessly have to consider and interpret?


Looking from the window from the exhibition rooms, I see the basic brands every town needs, some skater style kids hanging around, a guy driving trough the empty pedestrian street with a Pontiac or Opel Manta. The museum is empty; Tom, Sally and Alex are working. I help Alex building Michael’s plaster walls. Alex tells me at one point that we cannot screw the wooden slats that way, because its not like Michael would do it, it’s too complicated. His wall painting in the entrance is already finished, black, white and local dirt. Tom works on the frame of the mirror. We sit in the office for a break, and break dance to the mechanical noise of the coffee machine. We go for dinner and finally find one pizzeria, out of three, open. So expensive. Coming back, we cross the river and the dam. Later we discuss a working material Tom brought with him, a paper work that reminds us of some animals. It will finally be left out. Sally has some dried flowers on the walls, they’ll disappear too, but for now they are there.


We talk and someone drops: “Another day, another show“. Sally is soon finished with 'The Pencil Area'; the watercolour plate's palette will come up tomorrow. Alex needs an iron for the fabric; there should be no crease. Together we position Michael’s walls. It is tricky; there must be an invitation to circululate the room, without stressing any specific characteristics of the space. A quick test with the fragmented mirror: Nothing other than the branded car wing mirrors on the mirror and the fragmentation effect. Could it be those of the Pontiac or Opel Manta?


'Each touch seems destined to destroy the effect born of the relation between the preceding touch and the background.'

Hubert Damisch


 Leaving the show, one might think about what one saw: sculptures and paintings, wall works and a wall painting and an installation. But there is a resistance: one can’t remember about any story, or symbol, or metaphor, or model ... Something that one would have been told about, something to take home. „Maybe I forgot to read the introduction…>>those objects were so insignificant, holding nothing in their inner core. No representation, just things.<<


I have always been fascinated by a force of presence that occurs by default while setting up exhibitions when objects are present in obsolete spaces such as industrial derelict areas or gallery spaces (some would describe this as an aura and this became no longer possible to experience post-industrialization).


Sally Osborne, Michael Beutler, Tom Humphreys and Alexander Wolff realized a strongly concentrated and unified exhibition. Although their personal approaches are very divergent, there is a common concern about finding strategies to derivate the forms and materials they use toward unknown fields. An aesthetic post combustion booster. What the show lets you get into is the research through of four different methodologies, to this unsaturated presence, while completely committed to the materials composing the show. Somehow I connected it with a strong impression I had with a show made by Koo Jeong-a in the Viennese Secession in 2002.


The works are made of cheap and standardized materials from the decoration and home building industry. This shouldn’t be seen only as a pragmatically strategy, although it is interesting for the artists to keep the materials budget as low as possible, and to be able to find materials in any location. What is far more interesting is what is done with it, and the first overall observation is that the materials are not transformed into something else or into something more. So there is no transformation. Let’s say there is an operation and that this operation is specific to the materials in all their extent, and the aim of this operation is to make visible this extent. Further to that point concerning expression, miss a detail and you miss the work. Entropy of signification and association. All the works in the exhibition rigorously avoid any final statement. Each of the works emancipates the seeing-thinking relationship from our daily visual training, away from the unambiguity of our mediated reality. It's as if I had visited a Western Zen garden, where the subject is invited to reconnect its mind with its perception.

«Simply waiting to be washed off...... »


 It’s not groundbreaking or revolutionary. But obviously if one transfers their attentive practice of creating visibilities to more complex materials, or even theoretical and abstract objects, one would be overwhelmed by the work still to do. They just start at fringes one can grasp ... Models of how to do things?


 We don’t want to be sad anymore, this is too easy.

Blaise Cendrars



Yves Mettler, 2005