STATE OF THE ART
GÆG (WOLFGANG AICHNER/THOMAS HUBER)
CURATED BY CHRISTIAN SCHOEN
State of the Art
For this project, Munich artists Thomas Huber & Wolfgang Aichner will explore the borders of an imaginary state, the “State of the Art“. In the course of their three-week hike, they will mark out an 18,600 square kilometer (11,500 square miles) area in the center of the United States of America, and they will do it literally:
Dressed as statesmen or corporate managers, they will drag an over-dimensional ballpoint pen in order to leave a continuous, symbolic trail behind them. With grand gestures, they will draw their territory on a map that is marked with the similarly arbitrary and indiscriminate borders of past ages. They will proclaim nothing less than a free territory for the arts in times of resurgent nationalism.
The artificial state lies like a second layer over the states of Colorado (admitted to the union 1876), Wyoming (1890) and Utah (1896), states whose borders were not drawn according to geographical or historical circumstances, but on a drawing board at a considerable distance from the reality of the day. This location was chosen specifically because of the obvious artificiality of the historical demarcation of these borders.
This civilizational aspect, historically shaped by indigenous territorial changes as well as colonial rigorousness before the white settlements of the United States were definitively established, represents one aspect of the project. The “State of the Art” repeats white man’s gestures in dividing up the land, but counters them by creating a territory without ideology, a free space of the imagination, a state without borders, a non-state. Albeit proclaimed, it will not be supported politically or legally. It remains an artistic proposition, which is no more or less real than any national border given the world’s history.
An additional layer of the project reveals how the often aggressive process of territorial appropriation is usually the action of men. While in the past it was the alpha males among the warriors who were the strongest, today those in power wear suits and ties in order to assert their political or economic interests in an increasingly globalized world. Whether politician, businessman or banker, the world and its resources are divided up on desks and in meeting rooms. Huber and Aichner bring these people back into the real physical and geographical world.
When they mark their territory over three weeks dressed in fine linen, it is more than an ironic commentary. What may appear to be a company’s marketing campaign from a distance is in fact an appeal to all to question the facts invariably gathered by those with particular interests. The pen, which can indeed be seen as a phallic symbol, is a sign of humankind’s removal from nature, a sphere once considered feminine.
The pen will not make a distinct mark on the ground, at the most perhaps a fleeting indentation. Only in the digital space of the project’s website will the line be slowly drawn to form a rectangle. The border thus created does not serve to isolate. In a metaphorical sense it might instead be understood as a call to transgression. Consequently, “State of the Art” is an independent territory, a place of mental and artistic freedom.
The three weeks in May – June 2017 mark a climax in the international art world, which happens only every 10 years. In this period occur the openings of the most distinguished art events worldwide: the Biennale in Venice, the documenta in Kassel/ Athens, the Art Basel and the Skulptur Projekte Münster. While collectors, museum operatives, artists and gallerists appear in Europe, simultaneously on the American continent, in the middle of nowhere, the actual terrain of art is traced out. This synchronism poses the question about the actual meaning of art in the 21st century.
The message of the project manifests itself on three levels: The action itself – the three-week hike around the “state borders“ in physical space, denoting the real, physical level. The GIS controlled live documentation delivers the medial, virtual level in the internet. A crucial component of this will be the “press conferences”, which will document each stage on the way to the foundation of the state.
No reality is produced today without media coverage. The third layer is a c. 20 minute film, which will be the actual manifestation of the project. The film will contain both documentary material of the action, as well as fictional material, combined to create an elaborate hypothesis.
the ball-point pen
The writing instrument contains an axle-mounted steel ball at its point that will operate much like a wheel. Long carbon poles will make the lightweight GFK construction stable for use outside and in the wind. The pen will be moved forward via pulling, pushing or carrying, according to the challenges of the terrain, whereby the focus will be on respect for the environment. The pen will not carry ink (the line will appear exclusively in cyberspace on the project’s website), although on soft surfaces, for example sand, the pen will leave a recognizable mark.
02/2017 Preview MUC, Sponsors/Partners
05/2017 Press conference MUC
05/2017 Press conference USA
06/2017 Project phase
09/2017 Film premiere MUC