press release

Barbara Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce Thomas Hirschhorn's first exhibition at the gallery with a new work, Cavemanman. The work transforms the entire gallery space into a series of artificial cave "rooms" containing books, furniture and other paraphernalia evidencing the presence of a hermetic inhabitant. Unable to reconcile his utopian ideal of social equality with the injustice and economic disparity he witnesses in the world, this fictitious caveman has retreated from society into this space so that he may realize his obsession: "1 Man = 1 Man."

Hirschhorn has always been committed to social and political critique. Originally a student of graphic design because he believed it had greater capacity for political engagement, he soon realized that the discipline was intimately tied to private interests and abandoned it for art, despite his wariness of being associated with the Bauhaus and the elitist avant-garde. Hirschhorn considers his art and his political activism to be inseparable, a conviction that informs his choice of such low-grade, cast-off materials as cardboard, aluminum foil, plastic and packing tape. Precarious, dense and sprawling, his handbuilt ephemeral constructions often possess a spontaneous, jerry-rigged quality while straddling the definitions of architecture, sculpture and public monument. The works also incorporate an abundance of images and text, generating a data and sensory overload designed to simulate the artist's own process of grappling with the excess of information in his daily life.

For this exhibition, Hirschhorn explores myth and symbolism surrounding the cave, drawing from sources as disparate as Lascaux, Al Qaeda's underground tunnel complex in Afghanistan and an article in the New York Post reporting on an Ecuadorian immigrant man recently discovered living in a cave in Manhattan. The archetypal birthplace of human civilization, as envisioned by Plato and others, the cave also signifies political resistance, a place where alternative world views and political systems, such as the caveman's existential equation "1 Man = 1 Man," may germinate. However, just as the stridency of his slogan curiously resembles that of a commercial jingle, the cave is not real, but a replica made of tape and cardboard. While Hirschhorn acknowledges that there is no possibility of escape from corporate power structures, his message should not be mistaken for cynicism since it is the spirit invested in the work that persists, long after the objects have been discarded.

Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern, Switzerland and now lives and works in Paris. His large-scale public work, Bataille Monument, was recently on view at Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. Recent solo exhibitions include: Universität Zürich-Irchel; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museu d'Art Contemporani, Barcelona; Kunsthaus Zürich; Art Institute of Chicago; Renaissance Society, Chicago; Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva; Kunsthalle Berne; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Hirschhorn was the recipient of the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2000. Pressetext

Thomas Hirschhorn - Cavemanman