VIP Interview: Suzanne Pfeffer about Absalon
Jump to excerpt...Duration: 04:32
Kunst-Werke Berlin or KW Institute for Contemporary Art is an exhibition gallery at 69 Auguststrasse in Berlin. It stages exceptional exhibitions of contemporary art.
When Absalon arrived in Paris in 1987 he had had no artistic training and had created only a few works. But he was accepted immediately at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and met Anne and Patrick Poirier, Bertrand Lavier, Annette Messager and Christian Boltanski. The latter became his teacher and friend.
In 1988 Absalon was granted a scholarship to study at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, a research institute exploring the boundaries between the arts and the social and exact sciences. It was here that Absalon’s interest in architecture and mathematics took flight. He was particularly fascinated by architects with rationalist principles based on geometric forms (circle, square, triangle), such as the Neo-Classical architects and Le Corbusier (1887-1965).
Absalon’s cells were not only designed for a specific site in the centre of a specific city, but were also tailor-made to his own body. He was 190 cm tall and compared the way he was able to move through the spaces with a dance. The Cellules were to dictate Absalon’s life, so he made them precisely for the kind of life he wanted to live: not as a hermit (hence their central location) but certainly alone, without relations, with a visitor now and then, a minimum of comfort and few possessions. In short: a life that runs counter to the stream of social and cultural developments.
While Absalon was developing the Cellules, he also began to work with video. This suddenly gave his oeuvre a new frame of reference. In addition to Constructivism and architecture based on geometric principles, his work now also connected with the Body Art and Performance Art of the 1960s and 1970s.
But the question remains whether a comparison with Malevich, Le Corbusier or Bruce Nauman really elucidates Absalon’s intentions and the essence of his work. Absalon believed that a world in which art refers to art to is small and narrow-minded. He preferred to see his work in a broader historical and social context; he wanted to deal with essential questions and to put mankind – not art – at the centre of his work.
Suzanne Pfeffer, curator at Kunstwerke, Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, staged an exhibition for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen of the work of Absalon, an artist who was born in Israel and emigrated to Paris when he was 21. There, in just six short years until his death in 1993, he produced an impressive oeuvre. In this interview, Suzanne Pfeffer talks about Absalon and explains what makes his work so special.
The Absalon exhibition could be seen in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from February 11 until May 13 2012.
Camera & edit: Rose Klaver