Sue de Beer
Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn
Luis Gispert & Jeffrey Reed
Erik van Lieshout
Stephen G. Rhodes
Ryan Trecartin & Lizzie Fitch
In some respects musical chairs is a merciless game. A number of people running incessantly around a fewer number of chairs inevitably means that one of them won’t have a place to sit when the music stops, and only one of the players is left in the end. When I was a kid, I was always tossed out of the game at the very beginning. In fact, I hated games in general. With checkers, for example, I once got so upset that I threw the board and all the pieces against the wall in a rage.
My colleague Felix Ensslin and I recently had a conversation about games in childhood. He said he always won, much to the chagrin of his siblings, of course. It seems he understood that to win at musical chairs , one had to focus more on the behavior of the other players than on the chairs themselves. He and I differed in that he was able to expose himself to the playful competition, including its insecurities and ambivalence. I, on the other hand, was reluctant to engage in the uncertainty of play for fear of losing, which, of course, is what inevitably resulted. Or was it perhaps the other way around? Maybe I lost for fear of winning? As Felix explained, winners are generally hated or disliked, whereas losers can at least count on empathy. Seen from this point of view, the objective of the game is to receive attention, and both of us obtained it: he as the winner, having had to assert himself against the others, and I as the infuriated loser.
So why is it then that punks can’t quite get into the game? In one of Ulf Aminde’s very early works, the artist did nothing more than offer some chairs to a group of punks hanging out in Berlin’s area Friedrichshain and prompt them to play musical chairs (weiter!, 2004). They had a field day. However, although they knew the rules, they did not play the game as it was meant to be played. The competition factor is what interfered. Some sat down on the ground next to a chair, some didn’t participate at all, and some sat on other players’ laps when the music stopped.
Whereas Felix and I had apparently acknowledged the rules, though responding to them in our own distinct ways, the punks did not recognize the rules’ validity. It is this characteristic, rather than alcohol abuse, clothing, or inappropriate social behavior, that renders them marginalized. Society excludes them because they do not follow its rules, and they exclude themselves from society because they do not want to follow its rules.
Aminde’s video, on the other hand, shows not only the inability of these “outcasts” to acknowledge and integrate into a system, but also their indifference, a kind of listlessness related to drugs and addiction. People who rely on drugs (or sex or love, for that matter) to temporarily bridge the schism of their self circumvent the necessity of developing their own yearnings and desires beyond the rules. .
In his recent work, Aminde is less concerned with outcasts like punks, alcoholics, or homeless people, addressing the “normal” families of the German middle class instead. The challenge of adapting to social norms is not exclusive to those who have voluntarily or involuntarily chosen to disassociate themselves from these norms. As a result, the more ambivalent forms of “average” family contexts may -offer a subtler and more refined view of the challenges of everyday life. Aminde is thus continuing an approach he began with his Welcome Home (2004 – 2006), in which he -invited customers of Swedish furniture giant Ikea to enact scenes of daily family life in its showcased living rooms. The approach is similar to that of television shows that document families over a period of several weeks. However, unlike these more popular formats, Aminde deliberately integrates the camera into the scene as an additional actor, thereby hoping to detect the cracks in what appears to be smoothly functioning social adaptation.
Lives and works in Berlin
|2007||Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst GAK, Bremen, Germany|
|2006||The Survival of the Fittest, Kunstraum München, Germany|
Provins (with Bruno Nagel), UKS Gallery, Oslo
|2005||The Survival of the Fittest, Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Germany|
|2003||anti /_not dead, sox36, Berlin|
|2006||Von Mäusen und Menschen. 4. berlin biennale für zeitgenössische kunst, Berlin|
Monitoring — 23. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest, Kunstverein Kassel, Germany
Human Game. Winners And Losers, Stazione Leopolda, Florence, Italy
Urban Creatures, Pori Art Museum, Finland
|2004||Portal III, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany|
Thomas Wulffen, “Wir sind Kunst — die 4. berlin
biennale — Von Menschen und Mäusen,” in: Kunstforum International, no. 180 (May–June 2006).|
Katrin B. Müller, “Den Leuten ihre Bühne,” in: taz Berlin (March 24, 2006).
Urban Creatures, ed. Marc Schweska, exh. cat. Pori Art Museum (Pori, 2006).
Berliner Straßentheater — Ein Hoch auf die Niedrig-kultur, ed. Anne Kersten, exh. cat. Kunstverein Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg, 2005).
Von MAMA zu MoMA, ed. Kolja Kolhoff, exh. cat. sox36 (Berlin, 2003).