Karl Lagerfeld and Taryn Simon at Folkwang Museum Essen. Parallele Gegensätze.

Exhibitions such as the KARL LAGERFELD (Parallele Gegensätze: Fotografie – Buchkunst – Mode) at the Essen Folkwang Museum are great – because they get many people into the museum. And thus the accusation of “not being enough art”.

However, to reject them because of this is an evidence of an unrealistic view of what museums can and should achieve. However, I must also admit that I wasn’t particularly stunned by the exhibition. Although the fashion is exciting, everything gives the impression of understatement – at least with regard to my lack of euphoria. Something between calmness and normality seems to creep in, like seeing clothes where you still looking for fashion and I’m wondering if it’s due to the lack of dispute with fashion or whether the exhibition doesn’t seem to work. In comparison, the music accompanishing my visit was grandness: Inaccessible pop that let me realize how taste is changing under the influence of the dispute as, a few years ago, I wouldn’t have liked it. (I hope Karl Lagerfeld has shown responsible for the selection.) Now my review resonates with the silent reproach to lack expertise – I will probably never see in Baptiste Giabiconi what others see in him. But despite my changing taste which I anticipate for once there is a far more fundamental problem. Fo whatever reason – I’m not feeling it. But back to my initial point: I would have never driven to the Folkwang Museum, if my company had not wanted to see Karl Lagerfeld and so I had the opportunity to visit Taryn Simon’s exhibition (There Are Some Who Are in Darkness) . And if I hadn’t read an article by Thomas Hirsch in the fiftyfifty about it, I wouldn’t have seen it. My luck that the fiftyfifty is always right when it comes to art, otherwise the main ingredients of the artist (politics and photography) would have prevented me from visiting. As much potential this combination holds, as easy it is to get dangerous. So we went almost unprepared in this exhibition. What is shown is exciting , intriguing, disturbing, thought provoking. Both figuratively and mentally. The content is divided into three groups of work, the connection of these is Taryn Simon’s seriousness regarding her selection of subjects: At the beginning you can see photographs, whose only connection seems to be the lack presentation of life. A space in the John F. Kennedy International Airport, in which the customs shows confiscated food, an area full of hazardous waste: Mostly hospital waste, which is disinfected and disposed of by a company or boxes with pieces of evidence of rape. Until you read the (very small) wall text, all photos hold an aesthetic that suggests a composition by the artist. In addition, then comes the anxiety of the real. To quote Mr. Hirsch : “[ … ] photographs of objects that have been locked away in front of us because they show how dangerous our civilization is.” Followed by portraits that are no less interesting or less beautiful the photos show people who were convicted innocently in the places that were crucial for their condemnation. Again, she creates the juxtaposition of the beauty of a photograph and the cruelty of its contents. Looking back this ambiguity occurs to be strangely significant. The contrast of this exhibition to Karl Lagerfeld as two paintings hanging opposite to each other: Existentialism and luxury. I wonder if the end of the article is commenting on this when it actually refers to the photography and its suggestive ways: “The Beautiful is not to be trusted.” The injustice of the world, that attention is restricted to the tips and the suffering is to remain unseen? The simultaneity of the two exhibitions can suggest this, if you refer to the space of a museum as a whole. Yet luxury is not to be compensated with suffering and vice versa. That would be too simple, as for me I came from Lagerfeld to Simon. There are almost choreographic moves that create a link, two completely opposed viewpoints and issues which experience an overlap only in beauty. As diffuse this connection is, as refusing to verbal approaches so worth to experience it yourself. This is what museums can afford: To open our minds to new and old notions. Me, for Taryn Simon.

There Are Some Who Are in Darkness Until 16 Of March 2014.


written by VASiSTASmag

It's VASiSTAS, Online Blog On Contemporary Art, based in Dresden, Germany

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