“Oops, I didn’t know I was supposed to take them off,” said a visitor, comparing his feet to the shoeless ones of others that padded around the pink carpet of Michael Müller’s installation, Workshop, at the Armory wing shared by Berlin’s Galerie Thomas Schulte and Aanant & Zoo.
“You don’t have to, you can leave yours on,” dealer Alexander Hahn said to me, amused. The exhibit, a translation of Müller’s original “Was nennt sich Kunst, was heißt uns wahrsein? (What Is Considered Art? What Does It Mean To Be True To Oneself?)” shown at Galerie Thomas Schulte in 2014, is indeed a precious sight. The small wing glows in shades of pink varying from “it’s a girl!” to Pepto-Bismol, including the walls covered with Müller’s The PINK Manifesto (“PINK represents a absolute necessity for art…PINK transcends the sad materiality and indifference of this world….PINK. A SLAP IN THE FACE TO ALL NON-PINK,” etc.).
“[The exhibit] is about getting inside the artist’s mind,” said Hahn. “It begins in 1913, when Stendhal spoke out against censorship, when the individual became more important.” He gestured towards the congregation of objects deliberately crowding the small space–reproductions of Old Master paintings, a penis-themed cartoon under the Nietzschean title The Gay Science, a pink-tinged cutout of a naked man, abstract ceramics, a Louis Vuitton duffel bag next to a stack of art brochures.
The exhibit is a storeroom of ideas about sexuality, religion, science, originality, love, objects, streets, advertisements, Jan Brueghel the Younger, the letter z, the contents of Müller’s brain accompanied by an inventory of enlightenment-seeking thoughts on the wall. “Why is it expected that we understand?” “The sentimental, white light on the canvas will not save us!” and perhaps most tellingly, “Never trust an artist.”
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