Slide Installation view
Recently closed in Another Vacant Space was an exhibit celebrating artist Paul Thek. The exhibit was held on the occasion of Paul Thek Reproduced, 1969-1977 a new book by Art Historian and curator Susanne Neubauer. Featured, was Paul Thek in several forms of documentation, visual, written and an audio interview between the artist and curator Harald Szeeman, 1973. The gallery floor was almost completely covered in newspaper. The lights were dim and wooden chairs were placed within the space inviting viewers to do what Paul had hoped would be done in galleries: observation and thinking. He was against the concept of a pristine white wall space, and it’s as if Adam Nankervis (Museum Man) along with curator Susanne Neubauer, channeled the artists wishes through the grave and into Berlin’s Northwest neighborhood of Wedding.
The looping dialogue acted as a soundtrack to the slide projections, flickering on the raw back wall. A lone lilly stood guard of the front desk and illuminated the numerous texts strewn across the table top. One such text caught my attention and I sat occasionally glancing up and over to the direction of the speakers. In a 1972 piece by Richard Flood, the writer dissects Paul Thek’s work, his ideals and thoughts of exhibiting as well as making art on the external border outlining the then art community.
Installation view, Photograph Anja Teske, 2011
From Richard Flood:
The artist elaborates on his exhibition strategy and limitations of self-evaluation: I wanted the room to look good for people. I was tired of going into galleries and feeling like I was in a lineup. They’re all so brightly lit and there’s no place to sit down, and the gallery people are all peering through their windows–what a hostile environment. So it seemed the first thing to do was to humanize the environment; then you can look at a work of art. and of course, you do that by turning down the lights, giving people some chairs to sit on, and not having the art restricted in any way.
Paul Thek, The Tomb, 1967
And so I sat, in observation of paper, taped and tacked to the chipped walls, the lights dimmed and flickering due to low level electricity flowing through the gallery via the few random outlets. I listened to the drone of the streets outside, children laughing, playing. Inside a hum. Crackling vocals emitting through black speakers, occasionally popping and turning off. I thought of Dead Hippie (The Tomb) and Untitled (Beau Jangles) and smiled, at the invisible presence of Paul Thek, lover to Peter Hujar, brought back to life if even for a short period.
Prelude Paul Thek in Process at Another Vacant Space was on view from July 22nd – July 29th, 2011. The exhibition, in larger scale format will travel to Moderna Museet in Stockholm in early 2012, the moving to the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany and the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne, Switzerland.