The Cleveland Museum of Art was pleased to present The Unicorn, its debut exhibition at Transformer Station. The Unicorn refers to the book of the same title by Martin Walser, an author whose work often questions how humans continually reshape the past. The works in this group exhibition of five internationally-renowned contemporary artists share the processes and practices involved in the construction and reconstruction of the past.
The Unicorn’s featured artists are Neïl Beloufa, Martin Soto Climent, Shana Lutker, Haris Epaminonda, and Daniel Gustav Cramer. The works, some of which were created specifically for this exhibition, explore how memory is constructed by individuals looking backwards from a constantly shifting point. The unicorn as a mythical creature also serves as a metaphor for the creative vitality of memory and points to artists exploring the line between documentation and art, truth and myth, fact and fiction.
“For the Cleveland Museum of Art‟s first exhibition at Transformer Station, we brought together international artists that have been producing compelling work for some time,” said Reto Thüring, associate curator of contemporary art. “The Unicorn is clearly conceptually-driven, touching on a fundamental idea: that the past can only be a reconstruction and we encounter recollection as fragmentation, patchwork, kaleidoscope or dissonance. Memory is merely an impression conceived from the present.”
Shana Lutker’s recent work has been inspired by historical incidents when Surrealist artists exchanged fisticuffs and obscenities across the stages and streets of Paris. These events began on July 6, 1923 at Tristan Tzara‟s final Dada event, when André Breton jumped on a Paris stage and broke Pierre de Massot’s arm. Lutker‟s intensive research on the Surrealists‟ fistfights has culminated in a new group of sculptures that relate, in form or idea, to the places where the disputes took place. Lutker‟s sculpture for this exhibition, The Bearded Gas (2013) contains much of the tension, the absurdity, the drama, and the traumas of the first fistfight of the Surrealists. But the artist embraces the impossibility of restaging the past and creates her own, maybe not less true version of an event that was considered the birth of Surrealism.
Shana Lutker lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions include Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, California (2013); Barbara Seiler Galerie, Zurich (2013); the Suburban, Oak Park IL (2008); Artists Space, New York (2008); performances at SOMA, Mexico City (2010), Performa 09, New York (2009); and group exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, Mass MOCA and Lisa Cooley, D‟AmelioTerras and Harris Lieberman galleries in New York, among others. Her work has been written about in publications such as Frieze, Artforum, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, ArtUS and Art Papers. She is also the Managing Editor of X-TRA, an LA-based contemporary art quarterly.
Martin Soto Climent will present a new body of works specifically made for this exhibition. À Mon Seul Désir (2013) forms a second chapter to The Equation of Desire (2012), a series of diagrams about the human condition and a series of 366 photographs. This new work references the famous 16th century Flemish tapestries called The Lady and the Unicorn, especially the sixth and biggest tapestry of the suite. While The Lady and the Unicorn’s first five tapestries are meant to depict the five senses, the meaning of the sixth tapestry, which bears the inscription À Mon Seul Désir evades explicit interpretation. On account of the different format of the sixth tapestry as well as its enigmatic inscription, it may be that it describes a sixth sense, one best understood as inward and comprehensive.
Martin Soto Climent is part of a two-person team (along with curator Chris Sharp) that manages a new one room art space called Lulu in Mexico City. His work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions since 2001, with the most recent on view at Clifton Benevento, New York (2013). Other solo exhibitions include works at the Kunsthalle Winterhur, Switzerland and the Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria, both in 2012.
Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer will present a selection of books from The Infinite Library, an ongoing, collaborative project that began in 2007. The expanding archive consists of dismantled and rearranged picture books that have each been rebound to create new volumes. The result of this process is a collection of newly assembled meaning (or non-meaning). The new content does not follow any traditional logic of authorship or methods of transfer of knowledge. Instead the purpose of each book would simply be a book, containing infinite possibility.
Haris Epaminonda was born in Nicosia, Cyprus and currently lives and works in Berlin. She was educated at Kingston University, London and Royal College of Art, London. Her work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions in some of the leading institutions for contemporary art. For example, in 2013 she has shown or will exhibit at Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice; Modern Art Oxford, UK; and Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland. In 2012, she exhibited The Infinite Library at the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe and the Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland. In recent years, she also had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, NY (2011); the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2011); Tate Modern, London (2010); and Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2009). She has also been included in significant group exhibitions, like dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel in 2012, the 2nd Athens Biennale (2009) and the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008).
Daniel Gustav Cramer was born in Düsseldorf, Germany and currently lives and works in Berlin. His work has been featured in several solo exhibitions since 2005. Most recently, his work was highlighted at the Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Paris (2013) and was included in the accompanying publication. Cramer‟s work has also been included in significant group exhibitions and in collaboration with Haris Epaminonda, like dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel in 2012 and the 2nd Athens Biennale, (2009). Cramer will also show work at The Renaissance Society, Chicago, USA later in 2013.
Neïl Beloufa’s film Untitled (2010) is based on a story the artist heard about a property near
Algiers, abandoned by its owner during political unrest in the 1990s and subsequently occupied by a terrorist group. In recorded interviews that the artist conducted, the former owner of the villa, the gardener and others imagine what occurred in the space. Speculating about their intentions, they re-tell and re-imagine a three year long, dramatic and at the same time absurd episode, going back and forth on the boundary between fact and fiction. The installation in which the projection is embedded echoes the narrative collage of the film, turning memory and the past into a fragmentary mosaic.
Neïl Beloufa has had solo exhibitions at the Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2012); the Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2012); the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the New Museum, New York (2011); and White Box, New York (2008), and has participated in numerous group exhibitions, most recently the 55th Venice Biennale and the 12ème Biennale de Lyon. His videos have been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (2011); the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2009, 2012); and the London Film Festival (2009, 2010, 2011). Neïl Beloufa’s solo exhibition Hammer Projects: Neïl Beloufa is on currently on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA.