Die Welt als Labyrinth
Feb 28 – May 6, 2018

MAMCO

Letterism, Letterist International, Second Letterist International, Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, Experimental Laboratory of Alba, London Psychogeographical Association, Situationist International, Situationist Times, SPUR.

Taken from Gustav René Hocke’s book about European Mannerism, Die Welt als Labyrinth / The World as a Labyrinth was the title chosen by the Situationists for their project at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, in 1960. More than an exhibition, it was intended to be a “general manifestation,” transforming the museum rooms into a labyrinth, while a series of dérives was taking place in the city. Guy Debord, who had already written in 1956 a “project for an educational labyrinth,” expressed himself as follows to Constant: “We should intimately mingle atmospheric areas evoking the city, and atmospheric zones evoking the interior of a house. […] I consider this inside-outside mix as being the most advanced point of our experimental construction.”

 

MAMCO

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

The Dutch “manifestation” never saw the light of day, because the SI (Situationist International) refused any form of compromise, as requested by Willem Sandberg, the museum’s director. Such a failure was characteristic of their radical criticism of art as a constituted social field, governed by institutions, and determined by the market economy: from the school to the gallery, taking in UNESCO (which the SI planned to take over) and museums, their struggle was on all the cultural fronts. As of the 1960s, the movement excluded more and more artists before proclaiming, in a “resolution,” that any artwork produced by a Situationist was “anti-Situationist.”

 

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

By alluding explicitly to this Dutch project, the exhibition at MAMCO immediately shows up the paradox in any museum presentation of these final 20th century avant garde movements: how to show in a museum people who were utterly opposed to cultural institutions?

For this reason, the Geneva version of Die Welt als Labyrinth aims at a journey covering several episodes in this story, rather than the generally dominant genealogical approach to movements with many branches.

 

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

Even in its title, the exhibition is highlighting the motif of the labyrinth that ran through the period’s productions: as both a preconditioned circuit and a site for encounters, the labyrinth can be seen as one of the best metaphors of the dérive, that “psycho-geographical” experience of the urban territory, which is one of the practices most often associated with the Situationists.

Finally, in this universe, MAMCO wanted in particular to dwell on a few figures who did not want to give up on art: the artistic production of Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Ralph Rumney, Asger Jorn, Gil Wolman, and Jacqueline de Jong (all expelled from the SI, except for Jorn who left of his own accord), thus find a special place here.

 

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

MAMCO / Photo Annik Wetter

The exhibition has been organized by a curatorial committee including John Armleder, Gérard Berreby, Paul Bernard, Lionel Bovier, Alexandra Catana Tucknott, Julien Fronsacq and Mai-Thu Perret, and placed under Paul Bernard’s general curatorship. It has also benefitted from the scholarly advice of Luca Bochicchio, Nina Zimmer, Lucas Haberkorn, Jacopo Galimberti, Liliana Dematteis, Natalie Seroussi, Lionel Spiess, Jacqueline de Jong, Patrick Marcolini, Barbara Wolman, Swana Pilhatsch, Arno Morenz, and Ursula Lehman Brockaus.

 

Die Welt als Labyrinth
February 28 – May 6, 2018 / MAMCO GENEVE
Please visit the exhibition page >

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