My work has its roots in sculpture. For years I threw myself into studying problems of balance, volume, space, shadow, and light…
I took stock of the awareness of our time. I used my knowledge of the craft, my intuition, and my intelligence to note with increased clarity the poverty of my methods in comparison to modern techniques. I have been conquered by the hero-miracle of our age, the machine. To it belong beauty, revelations, testimonies, the recording of history. To it belong, in the end, truthful dreams and public demand…
Despite everything, I persist in trying to fix in resin the traces of our body: I am convinced that of all the manifestations of the ephemeral, the human body is the most vulnerable, the only source of all joy, all suffering, and all truth, because of its essential nudity, is as inevitable as it is inadmissible on any conscious level. — Alina Szapocznikow, March 1972, Malakoff*
TO EXALT THE EPHEMERAL—ALINA SZAPOCZNIKOW, 1962–1972, a comprehensive exhibition of work by this essential artist, is on view in Manhattan for one more week.
*Alina Szapocznikow, “Mon œuvre puise ses racines…,” March 1972, (courtesy Alina SzapocznikowArchive, Piotr Stanisławski, National Museum in Kraków), in To Exaltthe Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962–1972, exhibition catalog (Zürich: Hauser & Wirth, 2019).
See Griselda Pollock, “Traumatic Encryption: The Sculptural Dissolutions of Alina Szapocznikow,” in After-affects / After-Images: Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation in the Virtual Feminist Museum (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
The whole MANIFESTOS series is created this way: I put manifestos that I come across in a research file. And then I translate the text of each manifesto into musical notation. All the letters of the alphabet from A to G are converted directly into musical notation. So if the letter A pops up, then that’s translated into the note A. I also translate H as B flat, which is part of a Baroque tradition… All of the letters that are not notes becoming resting silent beats…
The whole idea, of course, is that the music is not produced subjectively. It’s produced following the system. The uncanny thing is that sound is subjectively realized. That happens because of the notational system; it’s a diatonic scale. The notational system is intuitive to anybody familiar with Western music… The listener finds the music meaningful regarding content and representation but fully understands there is no intention to produce meaning, or that the music is an expression of the artist… Whoever’s listening is making the meaning, because we’ve been trained to make those links. In other words, our cultural learning is producing our comprehension of the sound. That’s crucial to all my work. I’m arguing that the idea of the subjective imagination is an ideology, it’s not a fact. — Charles Gaines*
In conjunction with the exhibition CHARLES GAINES—PALM TREES AND OTHER WORKS, the artist’sMANIFESTOS 3—”a multimedia installation that functions as a systematic transliteration of two revolutionary manifestos into musical notation”—will be performed by pianist RichardValitutto at Hauser and Wirth in Los Angeles.
An interpretation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 speech at Newcastle University and James Baldwin’s 1957 essay “Princes and Powers”—a report from the famous 1956 Sorbonne conference of black writers—this MANIFESTOS 3 premiere will be followed by a conversation with Gaines and a book signing of the artist’s current exhibitioncatalog.
Origin stories are essential to Ursula Hauser. Growing up in St. Gallen, Switzerland, she co-founded and directed her family’s appliance business in the city. Although she initially felt a stronger connection to modern architecture than contemporary art, she started buying works by Swiss artists in the 1960s.
“They came and went in our house. And it’s still that way with our artists. We would meet on weekends or were invited to birthdays. To me, support means acquiring something an artist has made. In the mid-1980s, I set up my own showrooms in the abandoned Rohner Textile factory in Flawil: Galerie Arte Nuova. Actually it wasn’t a gallery; I just wanted to give local artists a platform.” — Ursula Hauser*
Hauser—who co-founded Hauser & Wirth in 1992 in Zürich with her future son-in-law Iwan Wirth and daughter Manuela—has remained personal friends with many of the artists whose work she collects, always availing herself of the opportunity to spend time with them in their studios, talking through their process. The new publication THE INNER MIRROR: CONVERSATIONS WITH URSULA HAUSER, ART COLLECTOR—a beautifully illustrated book-length interview between Hauser, Laura Bechter, and Michaela Unterdörfer—is the story of this exchange.
“In the big American studios… you make contact, introduce yourself, or maybe you’ve bought a work, so there’s already a connection. And then you take a very tentative approach, proceed step-by-step, depending on whether the chemistry is there. As a rule, you’ve already met at an exhibition, in a gallery, or in a museum. And finally you peer into all the corners.”*
Whether discovering SoHo in the 1990s with Iwan Wirth, celebrating Parkett’s tenth anniversary with Bice Curiger and Jacqueline Burckhardt, trading cars with Jason Rhoades in Los Angeles, or discovering drawings by Ida Applebroog in the artist’s cabinet drawers, THE INNERMIRROR is a private view into the life and work of this key art world figure. For Hauser, the book’s title refers to something women were seldom afforded the luxury of revealing, something Hauser found through art.
“Women who support a family and have to survive—it doesn’t occur to anyone that they might have personal feelings. You simply have to fight, it’s a struggle, and you have no choice but to make something good, something better out of it… Louise Bourgeois’ work is like a mirror of humanity. For people of my generation, it was impossible to let on that you were vulnerable. You would never reveal the reflections on your inner mirror. That was a sign of weakness and then you would have been lost. And that’s exactly what Louise’s work shows. Her art creates a space where that can be expressed.”*
The works in the Ursula Hauser Collection stay with her—she’s held on to drawings and models by Paul McCarthy for years—and Hauser collaborates with the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen on exhibitions of the collection. This summer in southwest England, the show UNCONSCIOUSLANDSCAPE—WORKS FROM THE URSULA HAUSER COLLECTION—curated by Manuela Wirth and Laura Bechter—brings together sixty-five works by the women who have drawn Hauser’s eye over the last four decades.