United Technologies: 23 April – 30 September 2009

Stefan Brüggemann, Rita McBride, Corey McCorkle, Jason Rhoades, Ai Weiwei

Curated by Philippe Pirotte, Director of Kunsthalle Bern

Featuring major works from five important artists - Stefan Brüggemann, Rita McBride, Corey McCorkle, Jason Rhoades and Ai Weiwei the exhibition United Technologies explores the relationships between art, design, architecture, nature and technology. Objects, references, materials and shapes belonging to our daily environment are taken out of their utilitarian context in a carefully considered exhibition, which has heightened poignancy given the richly symbolic architectural backdrop of Lismore Castle.

Rita McBride’s sculptures provide an illusion of potential use, which in turn enlightens the fictional and critical power of the hi-jacked materials and forms featured in her work. Three significant works feature in the show, including Kells from her celebrated series of Templates and Wall, based on an old Irish wall, which characteristically explores, and blurs, the line between reality and fiction. Using extremely precious materials such as ancient wood or porcelain, Ai Weiwei questions the appropriation of heritage and the permanence of tradition. Oil Spills threatens to pollute the preserved territory of Lismore Castle. One Ton of Tea, a one square meter cube made of one ton of compressed black tea, is both a bitter-sweet homage to Minimal sculpture and an evocation of past and present relationships between Orient and Occident.

The concept of growth is assumed in Jason Rhoades’ monumental, process-oriented installations like Perfect World - particularly in this instance with reference to his father’s garden in California, which had a significant impact on his thinking. Parts of this mega-sculpture will be exhibited in United Technologies for the first time since its initial showing in Zurich in 2000, and View From Above is a fragment of the upper level of the installation featuring thousands of analogue and digital photographs enlarged to an almost 1:1 format.

Corey McCorkle’s work also finds an inspiring breeding ground in the gardens of Lismore Castle and the legacy of its 19th century architect Joseph Paxton. The artist will produce Dandelion Wine after an ancient recipe, ironically celebrating the same weed that threatens to crowd out the cultivated plants that are the pride of Lismore Castle’s gardens. McCorkle has also designed seven wooden canes, which will lean against the walls of the gallery, waiting for visitors to take one out for support during their stroll in the gardens.

In Stefan Brüggemann’s installation the words Conceptual Decoration are printed on silver wallpaper that covers the main gallery space in its entirety, and so becomes a background for other works. Here, the artist uses the bourgeois decadence of surface decoration to highlight the “appearance” of the concept. Looking and meaning are inextricably shackled together as they are unable to function without each other.

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