“The Recovery of Discovery”: an exhibition by Cyprien Gaillard at KW, Berlin

By Manuela Castiglione on March 30, 2011 in Timetables & Scoreboards
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Friday March the 25th. I was at the press conference presenting the big installation by Cyprien GaillardThe Recovery of Discovery” at KW in Auguststr. 69 in Berlin. In this occasion I could realise once again how this city is liberal and unconventional. “An exhibition like this could be presented only here in Berlin”, stated proudly the curator Susanne Pfeffer lighting her self-rolled up cigarette – inside the exhibition hall – sitting on the top of a pyramid made of cardboard boxes full of beer bottles.

You get in the main hall of the KW, the Institute for contemporary art in Berlin and you climb – on your own risk – the immense installation of Gaillard done out of 72000 bottles of beer “Efes” from Turkey. The beer bottles are supposed to be drunk by the multitude of visitors during the long night of the vernissage (which by the way went on from 5 pm until 2 am) and in the days to follow. The exhibition is indeed open until May 22nd, when the installation will be totally destroyed.  Only the ruins will remain scattered around the floor reminding the viewer of the original beauty of the monument. In the US an exhibition like this could be banned, as alcohol is a taboo. Here it becomes a medium.

“Trying to preserve, you stop the development” stated the 31 years old French artist Cyprien Gaillard opening the first bottle of beer and inviting the guests to follow him. The concept of “process” is the starting point of his art questioned through architectural decay, destruction, demolition, maintenance, preservation and reconstruction. Following the dislocation of the Hellenistic Pergamon Altar at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin (world famous for its archeological holdings) in this exhibition Cyprien built up a monumental pyramid in Germany with Turkish beer, the “Efes”, which reminds of the temple of Ephesus. Through the use of the sculpture – climbing on it and drinking the beers – he wanted to highlight the destruction of the monument, the concept of displacement and the touristic colonialism. He wanted to create a parallelism between the gradual destruction of the monument and the effects of alcohol on your body and on your minds, making you a wrek!

Cyprien developed this project in times preceding the actual revolutions in North Africa and of course the recent catastrophe in Japan. Unfortunately nobody can be free from the suggestions of the present. That´s why, overloaded by the sadness of the actual brutal destruction due to nature and human beings I couldn´t help but perceiving this exhibition in this very moment as a frivolous expression of contemporary decay.

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