Casino Luxembourg. Forum d'art
19/06/04 - 15/07/04
Casino, the forum for contemporary art in Luxembourg, has succeeded for years already in conducting, under the leadership of Enrico Lunghi, a deviant exhibitions policy that is at odds with the choices made by most museums and art centres. A good example of this is the two-part project Re-location Academy and Shake Society which was part of an international exchange programme between seven European art centres. In addition to Villa Arson in Nice and the Migros Museum in Zürich, a dialogue was initiated with centres in Lüneburg, Trnava, Linz, Gdansk and Bucharest. The specific project by Casino consisted of two consecutive projects with the same group of twelve artists selected by an autonomous jury. In the first part of the project, existing works by the twelve artists were presented, coupled with an extensive programme of workshops and lectures by guest teachers and well-known artists. Apart from the fact that this functioned for the artists as a critical sounding board for their work, they also got the chance to work for seven weeks in situ, with a limited budget, to produce a new piece of work that was then shown in the second part: the Shake Society exhibition.
Two months of reflection and production ended up at loggerheads with the city of Luxembourg. The Shake Society exhibition became a quest by twelve artists from the most diverse backgrounds, most of whom reacted to the political environment of the bizarre Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Luxembourg has no academy within its borders, nor a university or art history faculty. It was a fine statement on the part of the Casino’s director, Enrico Lunghi, to transform his art centre into a temporary academy with long opening hours and free admittance. This strategy led to numerous issues being dealt with - both of local significance as well as a sharp position-taking against the timidity of the art world which has difficulty in accepting unknown talent. A number of the lesser-known artists are also being included in other Casino projects and exhibitions. And that is to the Casino’s credit, for there is nothing easier today than copying standardised exhibitions, in which internationally known artists are snared with a lot of money. With the policy it has been pursuing Casino Luxembourg distinguishes itself from these museums and art centres bent on status and quantitative quotas.
Upon entering, the visitor is immediately treated to a large sign appealing for donations of one Euro to be deposited in the account of a Romanian artist. Similar picture postcards circulated in and around the Casino. It was an intervention by Vlad Nanca, intended to broach the stereotypical image of the Romanian and East-European ‘begging’ artist. Vlad Nanca also denounces the apathy of artists in Romania who think that you can’t be busy as an artist without financial means. Such a political and cultural statement can also be applied to the situation of artists in the Netherlands who take state support for granted. In another space, Vlad Nanca shows a shocking, illegal tape of the brutal way that Berlusconi’s riot police literally crippled countless peaceful demonstrators against the G8 in Genoa (2001). This almost inhuman video was flanked by two puppets dressed in specially adapted clothing that could offer physical resistance to this senseless violence. Erratic violence with the sole aim of blindly defending the established, Western world order.
Just as insistent was the radical contribution of the in Copenhagen residing Korean artist Mia Rosasco. She drew up a contract donating her production budget of 2,000 Euros to a family of migrants. In return, the H. family drew and described on a map of Europe the moving and informative trajectory that they had followed through Eastern, Central and Southern Europe before finally being turned down in Luxembourg. These works show that young artists are sympathetic towards the world and sometimes literally give up their personal interest and financial advantage for it. The Romanian Irina Botea sent a letter inviting the handsome Grand Duke of Luxembourg to dance in the Casino. The playful formulated negative response from his office hangs as part of Botea’s contribution in a room next to the beautiful white ball gown she bought for the occasion. So dance then with the Casino’s director and employees, she thought, and recorded these endearing performances on video. Close to Irina Botea’s intervention was the presentation by Veronika Sramatyova who, blatantly employing the aesthetic of Marcel Broodthaers -a white display-case on a deep red carpet- showed four jewels bearing the engraved inscription Casino. She wore the jewels as a performance at the opening, thus bridging the vague boundary with the Casino’s former grandeur and Broodthaers’ idea of exchange. The project by the Swedish artist Charlotte Karlsson, which focused on a completely demolished house in Luxembourg, had more of a sociological slant. In this house she photographed her blue work duds, the sleeves functioning as suggestive eyes. Via two peep holes in the white wall of her space you could scrutinize the contours of the house, including the demolished materials of the building. Also notable is the Polish artist Janek Simon work, a white mock-up of the Casino, with himself as a young artist dreaming of a retrospective in the museum. This fantastic piece uses tiny LED screens to give form to his mini-exhibition within the model, while the harsh rattling sound of a computer game ensures that his space is ridden with a threatening, military atmosphere.
In short, though the art in this exhibition is closely connected to its historical predecessors, it remains well thought-out and carefully considered, based for the most part on fresh and unpretentious observations of reality, a reality most of the artists have dared to look straight in the eye. There was plenty of other fine work in Shake Society and so, as a group exhibition, it is downright remarkable. Maybe this formula of artist-in-residence ‘en group’ is in the end a serious means to get artists to produce work, which surpasses in time and distance the usual (studio) routine.
Casino Luxembourg. Forum d’art contemporaine
19 June - 25 July 2004
Casino Luxembourg. Forum d’art contemporaine
31 July - 26 September 2004