press release

The Magasin exhibition shows some twenty video and film installations from the Pierre Huber’s collection. These large-scale installations are presented in an exceptional manner based on the plans and instructions of the artists. The exhibition spaces have been completely remodeled (for example, the work by David Claerbout is shown according to his wishes in a corridor more than 20 meters long).

Pierre Huber Collection Pierre Huber, the famous Geneva-based gallerist renowned for his decisive contribution to the reorganisation of Art Basel in the 1990s, gave last June, the first ever public showing of a part of his personal collection (Private View 1980-2000 Collection Pierre Huber, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, 14 June – 11 September 2005). It featured significant ensembles of photographs, sculptures and installations made over the last twenty years by artists from both America (Jim Shaw, Mike Kelley, Cindy Sherman, etc. ) and Europe (Franz West, Thomas Ruff, Rineke Dijkstra,etc.).

The modes of collecting have borrowed the paths of different artistic scenes, traveled in the company of clearly named smugglers and actors, for two decades: Robert Nickas, John Armleder, and others besides. They have favored the progressive emergence of a stream of specific traits of which the articulation, having become autonomous, colors the identity of the collection. An open identity that is, originally, nurtured by the conjunction of opposite traits of a double relationship to painting. The almost founding figure of Tapiès, author of a materialist and almost sensual painting—thick, tormented, and transparent in his materials and his tools—meets the “constructivist” Swiss tradition that Minimalism and neo-geo have reactivated. The academic sources of these beginnings are quickly enriched by the eruption and the banalization of pop culture and the “forest of signs” of the media at the heart of artistic practices. These are clearly incarnated in the photographic medium, substituted for an absent painting. The painting from the beginning of Pierre Huber the collector is therefore considerably strengthened by American and European photography of the 1980s and 1990s. Video enters into the collection in such a manner that, at the same time, photography appears to belong to the last decade, and video has succeeded it

Collecting video works In the accompanying book edited by Yves Aupetitallot (Private View 1980-2000 Collection Pierre Huber, JRP-Ringier, Zurich), Pierre Huber spoke as follows about the prominence of video work in his collection: “Video is indeed, strongly present, because I think that, as was the case with photography for the previous generation, it has become the privileged mode of expression for the new generation, and for this reason is of interest to collectors. Video is important as long as it addresses contemporary art and develops a language different from that of cinema or television. […] The situation is changing very quickly, what with increasingly sophisticated technology and constantly improving integration into private interiors. For example, I know an American collector who built a transparent wall in or on which he shows his videos. For some of his new pieces, Bill Viola had special flat screens made that were sold with the videos. Without a doubt, collectors are going to have the technical equipment fitted that they need to make their collection visible. The days when video pieces used to be watched on a TV in the family living room are well behind us.”

The entry of video into the collection is emphasized by two simultaneous factors: the opening up of non-Western artistic practices and a strong interest in the discovery of young artists. Recognized as one of the revelators of Chinese art, Pierre Huber is also familiar with the biennales of Istanbul, New Delhi, and Havana. He enriches his collection with video pieces from young artists who are presented there, or that he discovers in his frequent studio visits. The videos that he collects, or more precisely the “luminous moving images” thus collected, are essentially videos, sometimes slide shows (Kader Attia, Jonathan Monk), as well as films (Paul Pfeiffer). In the existing category of video, his choices can be compared to the questions running through an anthology of texts on video edited by Gregory Battcock in 1978. In this classic book, the basic lines of an interrogation that has been attached to video since its emergence are outlined: “What is video art? How does this art differ from commercial television? Is video art linked to such traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture?” Among the possible hypotheses, Pierre Huber has very clearly rejected that of video as a reduced form of cinema or the poor facsimile of film in the form of television, in favor of a redeployment “in movement” of painting and sculpture. The object-projection supports of Matt Collishaw and Tony Oursler are sculptural in quality, as are the installations of Anna Lindal. But, for at least half the works of the collection, we are more in the presence of slides that generate their own space of projection (David Claerbout with Rocking Chair for example), or that play with existing space, taking the place of an architectural element (Kutlug Ataman’s six screens that make up the base of a wall or Sturtevant’s seven screens that underline the dimensions of a narrow space like a tunnel or corridor, and which they punctuate). For the other significant portion of the collection, the works use a projection screen that technology thinks of more and more as a both constructive and decorative wall in a private interior. Thus the screen takes the place of painting or the large-format photography that succeeded it.

Magasin’s exhibition The collection numbers about a hundred videos, films and slide shows. efore making any kind of selection, it seemed important not to fall into the temptation of showing the size of the collection through over-accumulation. On the contrary, we have chosen to show a limited selection of works. This choice is in accordance with the nature of the exhibition spaces, and the possibility to adapt them to the sizes of the works we retained, as well as the intention to construct a clear and comprehensible path through the rooms. The central corridor located under the interior glass roof connects a series of large rooms (9 x 12 m for Shirin Neshat; 22 x 5 m for David Claerbout) that provide the videos with their specific installation spaces. The works are presented according as closely as possible to their original installation requirements as defined by the artists themselves, with whom we worked in close collaboration. At the center of the spaces, we have set up a space for a pause, where some smaller sized object-based works are gathered.

One publication accompanies the exhibition: - A catalogue dedicated to video works of the Pierre Huber Collection, as a complement to the book published in 2005, (Private View 1980-2000 Collection Pierre Huber, JRP-Ringier, Zurich). Review: videos and films Collection Pierre Huber, 96 pages, 24,5 x 32,5 cm, text by Yves Aupetitallot, French / English, 70 coloured illustrations, hard cover.


Review: videos and films Collection Pierre Huber

mit Candice Breitz, David Claerbout, Rineke Dijkstra, Fischli / Weiss, Sylvie Fleury, Rodney Graham, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge, Annika Larsson, Anna Lindal, Shirin Neshat, Tony Oursler, Nam June Paik, Paul Pfeiffer, Elaine Sturtevant, Francesco Vezzoli, Peili Zhang