The Israeli artist Absalon, who died in 1993 at the age of 28, produced an oeuvre of extraordinary complexity and unusual uniformity during his short life. Now for the first time, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art showed an extensive solo exhibition of works by this impressive artist. In his pieces, Absalon created spaces in a systematic manner, using unconventional arrangements and principles of selection and classification which challenge traditional concepts of use and function. In his words, "nothing forces us to make a chair look like a chair."
Absalon gained recognition beyond art circles with his work group "Cellules" which he began in 1992. These small cells resemble architectural models or prototypes of living units. Designed in basic geometric forms of circles, squares and rectangles, these 4 to 8-m² rooms include all the necessities of life - kitchen, bath, place to sleep, Spartan furniture made of wood or plasterboard and everything painted sparkling white. His use of form is reminiscent to that of architectural modernity, the Bauhaus, de Stijl and Le Corbusier. The focus on absolute necessity, ascetic design and functional arrangement with smooth surfaces and white walls offer the "inhabitants" neither diversion nor distraction, but rather makes them more aware of themselves. Absalon described his cells as "my inner mirror" and as mental spaces. He had planned to display the six completed miniature flats in six different cities around the world.
Although Absalon did not intend his works to be regarded as models of social utopia, they continue to fascinate us today for their forward-looking quality and can be interpreted as a socio-critical, artistic commentary on global mobility and the relationship of privacy, public exposure and identity.
Curator: Susanne Pfeffer
Artist: Absalon (IL)
Venue and schedule:
KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin: 28 November 2010 - 6 March 2011
KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin