Michael Asher’s Kunsthalle Bern (1992),
04 May 2020
SPAZIO ORR- camera Project
Michael Asher’s Kunsthalle Bern (1992), is a work that came onto my radar at exactly the right moment. As a recently graduated student who had been struggling with the institutional frame within my own work and similarly had been deploying strategies of displacement in works such as Museum Piece (1991), made in collaboration with my fellow student Paul Maguire, to discover Asher’s intellectually brutal and achingly eloquent intervention into the fabric of the 1918 Bern exhibition space was a shot in the arm. For Kunsthalle Bern, Asher orchestrated the repositioning of all the museum radiators into a single ensemble that greeted you in the foyer, a space already somewhat belligerently occupied by two preexisting radiators. Each repositioned radiator was then reconnected to its original plumbing points through an elegant flow-diagram-like network of copper pipes that led around the walls and down the stairs, mapping the journey made by each. Thus the exhibition space showed a sculpture (Kunsthalle Bern was certainly a very persuasive example of sculpture), while that same sculpture showed the exhibition space and by implication its history as a place of display.
ESSAYS Mousse 61, Simon Starling on “Kunsthalle Bern” by Michael Asher
For Kunsthalle Bern, 1992 (1992), Michael Asher relocated the buildings radiators from its exhibition spaces to its entry-way gallery and presented them as a group. Steel pipes connected them to their original valves, coursing linearly along the Kunsthalle’s walls and keeping the hot water flowing. Such ‘displacement of givens’ offers a perfect example of site-speciic practice by Michael Asher, one of the foremost installation artists of the Conceptual art period and an inspiration for institutional critique.
Spazio Orr is pleased to announce a publication of unpublished photos dedicated to this work, in collaboration with Colección MorenoÁlvarez .