Factory Is Outside / Esther Shalev-Gerz
Apr 1, 2017 – Apr 1, 2018

Extensive in scale, Esther Shalev-Gerz’s exhibition Factory Is Outside comprises interweaving series of works that investigate how cultural identities are constructed and examine the role and status of traditional professions in a world that is global and undergoing a rapid digital transformation.

Paris-based Esther Shalev-Gerz (b. 1948) is known for her consistent investigations into memory, history, nature, democracy and the construction of cultural identities. She sets out to challenge conventional notions of art and artistic practice and considers how art may contribute to contemporary discourse on the politics of representation.

Shalev-Gerz’s art takes the form of an active dialogue with others; it is a process of consultation and negotiation that ensures that the individual and collective memories, stories, opinions and experiences of her participants are visible and indeed highlighted in her works. She is interested in the fluctuating nature of time and space, and the interrelationships between identities, places, history and narratives. Her art is a process of recording, critiquing and furthering our understanding of the social role and significance of artistic practice.

The themes of Shalev-Gerz’s exhibition are also relevant to the history of Mänttä, the small industrial town in Finland, where the exhibition is due to be held. For generations, the local mill has determined the structure and rhythm of everyday life. Consequently, the dramatic decline of the traditional manufacturing industries has had a significant impact on the community.

 

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Dead Wood

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Exhibition view

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Exhibition view

Work and identity in the global world

In her exhibition Factory is Outside Esther Shalev-Gerz brings to Mänttä several works that were done in different places. Describing Labor (2012) was realized in Miami, USA about the rarity of the image of the worker. Potential Trust, (2012–2014) was conceived in Detroit, a former dynamic industrial city that its heart is only now starting to beat again.

 

Esther Shalev-Gerz / The Last Click

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Sound Machine

Sound Machine (2008) was realized in the small town of Norrköping, Sweden, about women’s life in a factory that was located in the heart of the city. The Last Click (2010–2011) was commissioned by the museum for photography in Braunschweig, Germany where this museum replaced in a way the industrial production of Rollei cameras. Dead Wood (2016) was realized in a town of 800 inhabitants living in the middle of nature and history for the 30th anniversary of their contemporary art center. And Les Inséparables (2000) is a double-clock with one side going to the future and one side to the past. It was conceived and exhibited on the roof of the Bauhaus University in the small city of Weimar that is existing between culture and history, be it the presence of famous writers, the Republic of Weimar or the concentration camp of Buchenwald.

 

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Describing Labor

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Describing Labor

Esther Shalev-Gerz / Describing Labor

In spite of all differences, what is interesting is how much the world has in common. This exhibition is about the rainbow that takes us from our identity as being of nature through the production in industry and into the other side of the mirror, into culture, Esther Shalev-Gerz says.

This cyclicality of nature, industry and culture is going backward and forward in time where we use art to look at what just happened, what we went through and to reflect on the future. And today even with globalization and media, what is important is the very personal and its uniqueness. That is what my art shows when we listen to the participants in my projects, each contribution is unique even though they all speak about a common subject. And that is the beauty of bringing these installations here in Mänttä.

 

Factory Is Outside / Esther Shalev-Gerz
April 1, 2017 – April 1, 2018 / Serlachius Museums, Museum Gustaf
Curated by independent writer and art critic Timo Valjakka
Please visit the exhibition page >

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