until 22.08. | #3077ARTatBerlin | EFREMIDIS GALLERY presents from 27th June 2021 the solo show Beautiful and Damned with works by the artist Mitchell Anderson. At the [erp] the installation “Schmale Anzeige” by the artist Willem Oorebeek is visible since 18th June 2021.
Beautiful and Damned
It is not normal for
me to be a Kennedy.
But I am no longer
ashamed, no longer
alone. I am not
alone tonight because
we are all Kennedys.
And I am your President.
“An American Poem” von Eileen Myles
Portraiture has long been the medium of wealth and privilege. In his new exhibition Beautiful and Damned, Mitchell Anderson puts together an iconic portrait of industrial society and its intricate fictions. The Kennedys—the American political family par excellence—are portrayed by Anderson as both objects of desire and as remnants of an anticlimactic post-war era.
His work repeatedly complicates the distinction between art and memorabilia: campaign buttons, cigars from the White House, playing cards, and the photographs from Oliver Stone’s film JFK all walk this line between the two categories. This practice, here represented by works spanning the last decade, emerges from interest in the valuation of objects; it is a method that shares an affinity with minimalist sculpture but, in the end, it is predominantly invested in the muddy waters of content and meaning.
In the exhibition, several paintings of political campaign buttons line the wall, and with their shapeshifting typography, the designs of the buttons reference different decades and regional cultures where the various campaigns were run. As such, Anderson’s work nods to a form of political marketing bent on pandering to strategic demographics, guiding us through the oxymoron of liberal monarchs and plutocrats. The current iteration of Western democracy is one of the exhibition’s many subjects, and as such Beautiful and Damned resembles less the idyllic town square and more an absurd, contrived PR campaign.
His playing card portraits encrypt literary quotes with a simple cipher: beckoning the myths, tragedies and conspiracies that surround the Kennedy dynasty, inviting his viewers to assemble scattered clues and decipher information. The shirtless bodies of the Kennedy scions, fixed on the playing cards, express a libidinal flair for the political and a voyeuristic fixation on virile, masculine leadership.
Beautiful and Damned tracks the rise-and-fall narrative of the Kennedys with an obsessive precision. Urgent and feverishly camp, Anderson’s show traverses a landscape of contradictions, mapping the end of the so-called American Century.
Mitchell Anderson (*1985, Chicago, USA) lives and works in Zürich, where he organizes the artist-run space Plymouth Rock. Recent institutional exhibitions include Kunsthalle Bern (2021); Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle Zürich (2020); Fondazione Converso, Milan (2019); MAMCO, Geneva (2018); and Fri-Art Kunsthalle Fribourg (2017). He is nominated for the Prix Mobilière 2021 and Swiss Art Awards 2021. On the occasion of his exhibition, Efremidis publishes Mitchell Anderson’s Notes. 2014-2021.
At the [erp]: Willem Oorebeek
In his new exhibition at Efremidis, Willem Oorebeek covers the windows of the gallery with the oversized lettering “Free China From Tibet” in a Gothic typeface. The inversion of the popular slogan (“Free Tibet”) demands liberation for the People’s Republic of China and raises the question of what this freedom would mean for the Central State.
Oorebeek’s work positions itself against the backdrop of the present moment in the West in which political rhetoric is escalating and public discourse is becoming increasingly polarized. The desire for total unambiguity and an understanding of a constantly differentiating world cannot be met at the same time. The state of affairs is simply more intricate. The artificial clarity of political slogans inevitably runs the risk of discrediting the legitimacy of opinions.
In addition to the discrepancy between writing and what it wants to refer to, Willem Oorebeek’s work also examines the boundary between image and language. The German calligraphy makes the text difficult to read and creates a tension with the clarity of the printed statements. The illegibility drives the letters from the sphere of language into that of the image.
Oorebeek consistently engages with the medium of print: writing and images are copied, reproduced and torn from their usual systems of reference. Form and content become alienated from one another. The clarity of the original statement is lost and contrasts with the apparent unambiguity of the slogan.
Oorebeek’s work reflects the resulting uncertainty and opens up the possibility of finding a way back to an adequate, more balanced public discourse.
Willem Oorebeek (b. 1953 in Pernis, NL) lives and works in Brussels, BE. Solo exhibitions have to his work been dedicated at the following institutions and independent spaces: Sundogs, Paris, (2018); Yale Union, Portland (2015); Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos – Culturgest, Lisbon (2008); Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuele Kunst, Ghent (2006); Ausstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst, Münster, with Joëlle Tuerlinckx (2005); Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, with Joëlle Tuerlinckx (2004) and at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (1988 and 1996-1999). In 1997, together with Aernout Mik, he represented the Netherlands at the 47th Biennale di Venezia.
Vernissage: Saturday, 26th June 2021, 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Exhibition period: Sunday, 27th June – Sunday, 22nd August 2021To the Gallery
Exhibition Mitchell Anderson + Willem Oorebeek – EFREMIDIS GALLERY | Contemporary Art – Kunst in Berlin – Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin