"Facts are stupid things"
Through Dec. 18

"Facts are stupid things." This 1988 quote from former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, originally just a slip of the tongue, ironically anticipates what we accept today almost without opposition: branding and media shape our perception. Fiction is reality. Facts are stupid things...

For the exhibition "Facts are stupid things," Staub(g*fzk!) invited nine artists whose work explores the boundary between fiction and reality.

Christoph Draeger starts with, natch, a wall, in "Palestinian Teenage Riot/Wailing Wall." Three meters long and one meter high work, "Wailing Wall" stands silently on the gallery floor in front of the picture, "Palestinian Teenage Riot." The spectator's gaze wanders over "Wailing Wall," to the depiction of rioting teenagers.

However, if one changes one's position to the side of the teenagers, the grey concrete stones on the other side of the "Wailing Wall," become a symbol of the insurmountable walls -- physical and political -- in the region. In both cases, the weapons are stones.

Next to Draeger’s work hangs a large-scale drawing by Marguerite Kahrl. In complex drawings, Kahrl constructs fictional systems. Her diagrams combine new technologies and fictional landscapes, exploring subjects such as surveillance, nuclear fuel, arms production and our 21st century dependency on reliable data transmission.

Kahrl’s drawings develop slowly and in multiple layers. They allow time for reflection as one traces the detailed progression of a self-made world unfolding.

Draeger’s subtle shifts in context and Kahrls’ fictional-reality constructs are complemented by a photographic work by Mark Divo.

Divos’ large-scale photo "Adventure Humanity" is based on Théodore Géricaults painting "The Raft of the Medusa", (1818/19). Divo interprets the motif of the shipwreck as a representation of the idea of surrendering to the flood of information and to advertising slogans.

The infiltration of brands in all areas of life are the theme of the two Madonna paintings by Ivana Falconi.

Painted in oil on wood and set in pompous frames, Falconi’s Madonnas wear Adidas and Nikes. As with religion, branding requires faith. Both religion and commercial branding use symbols and cult figures, spread globally by franchising a recognizable brand, and demand unconditional surrender to opinion leaders’ particular spin on reality or value systems.

Elise Engler’s work is characterized by a strong interest in archiving and cataloguing. "Wrapped in the Flag" is a drawing in progress; Engler started working on it at the outbreak of the war on Iraq.

Engler meticulously follows the news of names and nationalities of the dead (U.S. and allies). With colored pencil she draws a silhouette of the dead; the silhouette is then filled in with the casualty’s respective flag, providing information about gender, age and nationality. Engler’s ongoing project, which already fills five 150 cm x 30 cm paper sheets, can be seen as a temporal memorial against war.

Opposite Engler’s drawings hangs a large-scale oil painting of Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz. Like Engler, Bachmann and Banz occupy themselves with war, in their work "As I opened fire."

The painting includes a quote from one of Roy Lichtenstein’s works ("As I opened fire, I knew why Tex hadn’t bust me / if he had / the enemy would have been warned that my ship was below them”), as well as a portrait of Anne Frank. The combination of art with historical and socio-political aspects in Bachman and Banz’s work leaves room for objective or personal interpretations.

Also an archivist of impressions of daily life, Patricia Bucher collects odd personal encounters, strange images from journals or, as in this exhibition, text fragments from pop songs.

Using highlighter on paper, Bucher draws texts like "some will have more cash than you/always take a different view" or "and if i don’t and if i do/the day has cooled, the time will too." Finally, Bucher covers her work with scotch tape, which renders her work temporarily glossy, but faded in time, like the words of pop songs you can no longer recall.

Dagmar Heppner draws logos of the big Hollywood studios such as Universal, Columbia or Paramount; super brands which create reality through fiction.

But whereas the original brands burst with vigor, Heppner’s colored pencil drawings have a feeling of vulnerability. They’re not in confrontation with the power Hollywood exerts over mass-marketed dreams, but are instead a gentler, personalized version of the logos, reclaimed and re-interpreted by the individual.

Find it: Staub(g*fzk!)
Rotwandstrasse, 39 (Holf)
Zurich (CH)
Get info: +41 (0)1-240-30-55

Find art exhibits in other cities, in the DEC/JAN issue of "Arte Six."