Friday, October 1, 2010

80*81 by craniv boyd

George Diez & Christopher Roth
Joseph, Ali, Ronald, Maggy, Andy, Phil und die anderen at ESTHER SCHIPPER


The founders of Google started their company with the question "What does the world want to know?" Similarly artists George Diez and Christopher Roth began the work for this current exhibition at Esther Schipper with a question they characterize as "simple". It is: What Happened 1980, 1981 this is the reference point and mission objective stated in the press release that reads like an enthusiastic artist statement or a hardball interview where the interviewees dominate the session.


I begin with the press release for this exhibition because it was crucial for my understanding of what I was seeing. I walked into a large empty white cube with the characters 80*81 ominously and cryptically hovering high on the far wall in the Helvetica or some such modernist classic san serif typeface; directly under a modest stack of unopened cardboard boxes with descriptions on the side of the contents of said boxes. A delivery from the commercial lithographer? The Inventory of a new DIY magazine boutique? On top of each of the stacks of boxes are casually displayed exemplars of the contents of the boxes, booklets, books, brochures, ephemera designed in a style that screams Postmodern, I.E. but not limited to, heavy usage of appropriated photographs, asymmetrical spreads + layout of type and pages of content and endpapers in places where you don't quite expect them.


As I flipped through the books/magazines I was distracted by the sound of two vintage Kodak Ektachrome diapositive projectors on boxes on the floor, side by side; The periodic sound of their slide carousels clicking into position and dropping the next image into place in front of the light bulb. This stereo projection method reminded me faintly of Andy Warhol´s 1965 classic avant-garde epic film "The Chelsea Girls". However the dated looking images below eye level that appeared on the north wall of this white cube, looked like they came from the 1980´s. Slowly giving meaning to the cryptic numerals in black on the adjacent wall. Slide of prominent people like John McEnroe and Björn Borg, not as they appear today but as they did all those years ago when they took a publicity portrait back to back holding ancient 17th century pistols. Or Ronald Reagan, or Mohamed Ali or yes, Andy Warhol, Masters of the universe from 30 years ago making a come back.


Turing around I saw books in a row on the floor, as they would be on a bookshelf, among them Andy Warhol´s diaries, several tomes from the 80´s that seemed part of the source material Mr. Diez and Mr. Roth culled from in their 80´s nostalgic appropriation project. Near these books I vaguely remember seeing a disorganized desk with a (surprise) current iMac, something about this struck me as uninviting and I did not approach the desk.


In the north exhibition room of Esther Schipper was a set up of a grid of television monitors not flat screens whose antique appearance was reinforced by the content on the screens a seemingly chaotic mix of German television programming from the 1980s.


I was getting the picture by the time I read the press release for this, and form it I learned that it was an artist duo behind this work and that they started with a simple question that lead them to a world journey, a series of exhibitions, interviews and post modern graphic designey looking books that explore the past in the format of a rehash of the Situationalist International "derive" and a global exploration of psycogeographies. by craniv boyd ©

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