Alfredo Barsuglia: LAND

Alfredo Barsuglia LAND exhibition invitation

Opening speech by Peter Noever

Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill
Graz/Austria, 7 March 2014

The visitor knows not what to expect. Knows nothing, really. “Land.” “Land.” The difference between English and German, here, is minimal.
But in any case, the artist is present.
That alone would be enough to claim that we can surround ourselves with art here and now, and perhaps even dive into it.
Simply mentioning the fact that the artist is present should suffice—and should put you, the esteemed guests of this evening’s event, in a cheerful and conciliatory mood.
And we would probably do well to encounter that which is before us with openness and curiosity.

Perhaps we should try doing without overly ambitious deliberations on:

  • fiction and reality
  • space and time
  • public space and places of refuge
  • spatial concepts and acts of nature
  • private space and the public interest
  • the intimate and the collective
  • the virtual and the immediate
  • the formal existence of things and threatening alien entities
  • intelligence and aesthetics
  • the desert as a membrane of expansion and as a stage upon which to live one’s life
  • utopian visions and the dictatorship of mediocrity. 

Perhaps, as stated, we should move immediately to extinguish such thoughts. To avoid even considering them—that is what we should attempt.
That would be appropriate to the essence of art, which—providing it is born of free thought—always contains elements of surprise, or of the new and fresh.
I remember a conversation that I had in 1983 with Padhi Frieberger for the architecture magazine UMRISS, which I published at the time.
“If I had seen Van Gogh in the woods, I would have gone to him and recognized his genius. And probably also his ability—which he could pass on or convey to others. This in stark contrast to this or that gallerist or art historian, who always needs some sort of proof from artists who refrain from realizing their intent. All that matters, though, is that an artist has it in him.
For it is there, after all, that one encounters the true artist. But proof in the form of realized ideas is usually an important thing—above all for those who speculate with them, who want to make money on the artist’s work.” 
Now we, for our part, are not out in the woods but in a gallery, in the hallowed halls of Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill. And tonight, we do indeed have an opportunity to meet the artist, Alfredo Barsuglia, one who never tires of providing new food for thought, staged scenarios, spatial sequences, spatial events and settings for life, bringing them into the world and into the land of his ideas.
Perhaps Alfredo has decided to make us a bit more familiar with the Californian desert, today, or—put differently—to let us participate a bit in his process of deciphering conditions and events not far from Palm Springs, around 150 km outside Los Angeles. It is an area that’s not unfamiliar to me. Not at all. In fact, this country is a place that, somehow, I know quite well. One could almost say that it’s grown close to my heart. It was here, far off from human settlements (the nearest one is Pioneer Town) and in the middle of the desert, so to speak, that—in March of 2007—I took a decisive step into the future.

Alfredo Barsuglia spent 2006 living and working at the MAK Center Los Angeles as an artist-in-residence.
I also feel a need to note the following: back in 1994, when I initiated this program, it was a concern of mine to provide all those prerequisites that are necessary in order to attract the most interesting and radical forces in the fields of art and architecture, regardless of their nationality. Today, even just in Austria, many of the most prominent artists and architects of the younger generation are former grantees—such as Mathias Poledna, Markus Schinwald, Dorit Margreiter, Andreas Fogarasi and Hans Schabus, who have participated in various editions of the Venice (Art) Biennale.
Alfredo Barsuglia is likewise a former grantee of the MAK Center in Los Angeles. An important factor here was that we had the policy of putting together a new jury each year, and these juries always included artists and architects of international standing.

(The jury that selected Alfredo Barsuglia, that of 2006, was comprised of the following individuals: Hernan Diaz Alonso, Patrick Charpenel, Magdalena Jetelová, Peter Noever and Claudia Oetker).

Alfredo stepped up to this challenge and gave himself over to the completely unexpected and unknown, already realizing his first art projects situated between Hollywood and the Californian desert.
We also had a mutual desert-friend: Steve Lowe, the author, biographer and friend of William S. Burroughs. And, along with Lowe, there were the Beat Hotel and Desert Hot Springs Motel by John Lautner.
John Lautner’s motel—a truly one-of-a-kind architectural manifestation in the middle of the Californian desert. All this just as a reference to what was within 200 km of the place that Barsuglia chose for his project Social Pool.

Everything else, ladies and gentlemen, will reveal itself here and now.