Gallery 2 VERA FRENKEL
...FROM THE TRANSIT BAR
BODY MISSING (INSTALLATION)
The Body Missing Website
Exhibition opening 30.06.1997, 6 p.m.
The exhibition is on view until 24.08
Curators: Ryszard W.Kluszczynski (CCA)
Ulla Arnell (Riksutsatllningar)
Tom Sndqvist (Kungl. Konsthogskolan)
Vera Frenkel, a prominent figure in international contemporary art, who works in the front rank of the electronic and computerized media. She is one of the leading proponents of contemporary art, and her work has been honoured by some of Canada's most prestigious awards. She works on themes concerning the experience of being foreigner, of escape and rootlessness, and the loss and recreation of a sense of cultural memory. She is bringing three of her most important works to Warsaw as part of a tour arranged by Riksutställningar ...from the Transit Bar, Body Missing and the Body Missing Website.
Riksutställningar's collaboration with Vera Frenkel includes an exhibition tour of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Poland during 1997 and 1998. The first venue was the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm, February 15 - March 16, 1997. Ujazdowski Castle is the third gallery which hosts these three installations.
...from the Transit Bar, which was first shown at documenta 9 in Kassel, is a six-channel video installation in the form of a fully functioning piano bar, with daily newspapers, palms, a pianist and a bartender. Here the visitor can sit down, relax, read a newspaper, and order a drink - a glass of juice, whisky or vodka - from the bartender. The visitor is drawn into a space where documentary and fictional realities, present and past, art and life meet, and occasionally change places. The monitors in the bar allow us to share in 14 individuals' personal experiences of displacement and exile. The stories are about the experience of finding oneself between cultures, about love, about the bar. Here, displacement is as fundamental as the casual intimacy of the things revealed in the bar under the protection of its anonymity, which lets strangers talk to each other about their own lives.
Body Missing is a video/photo/text installation consisting of six viewing stations, a wall text and photographic transparencies in light boxes. The work has its starting point in the question of the fate of the works of art that have been missing since the Second World War, and Frenkel stages a major inquiry into the art policy of the Third Reich. The project was first installed in Linz in 1994, Hitler's boyhood hometown, and refers to the 6000 stolen works of art that were stored in salt mines not far from that city. What was known as the "Sonderauftrag Linz" was Hitler's secret plan that the best works, acquired through theft or compulsory purchase, were to be transported to Linz, the city where he spent his childhood and planned to retire, to fill the proposed gigantic Fuhrermuseum there. The six videotapes interweave archival material and contemporary footage, written documents, drawings and photographs and architectural models, lists of artworks all bearing witness to the planned rebuilding of the city.
The Body Missing Website, (http://www.yorku.ca./Body Missing) takes the investigation further. In this website, both previous works meet. The point of departure here is a conversation that is overheard by the bartender in the Transit Bar (now fictitiously located in Linz) in which they express the desire to reconstruct the missing works. In the gallery are three work-stations where visitors can visit the Web pages where the bartenders and piano players tell tales of various kinds of displacement, and enter the spaces where the commemorative work occurs. Via Hitler's last testament and from reports by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section of the US Army, the visitor can find out about the fate of the vanished art. Artists from several countries are regulars at the Transit Bar, and contribute to the Body Missing project now installed on the World Wide Web. They are Joanna Jones, ALice Mansell, Mickey Meads, Bernie Miller, Piotr Nathan, Daniel Olson, Karen Puck, Jeanne Randolph, Michel Daigneault, Stephen Schofield, Judith Schwartz, Betty Spackman and Anja Westrerfrolke.
Vera Frenkel, Biographical Note:
Multf-disciplinary artist Vera Frenkel lives and works in Toronto where she also teaches an interdisciplinary studio/seminar at York University. Recent works include the videotape, This is Your Messiah Sþeaking which traces the secret bond between romance, messianism and consumerism, and the related animation, Messiah Sþeaking (1990-91) for the Piccadilly Circus Spectacolor Board in London. In 1992 Frenkel was among the artists invited to represent Canada at documenta IX in Kassel, where she installed from theTransit Bar, a 6-channel video installation/functional piano-bar on the second floor of the Museum Fridericianum. A reconstruction of this work, organized by The Power Plant and the National Gallery of Canada is currently on view in Toronto. Reprogramming of the six videodisk players in this piece was carried out during a residency at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the Universityof Toronto. Frenkel's text work, The Bar Reaort, was published in book form by the Art Gallery of York University as part of a two-volume catalogue for the exhibition. Raincoats Suitcases Palms (1993). Commissioned by the Offenes Kulturhaus in Linz, Austria, boyhood home of Adolf Hitler, Vera Frenkel has just completed the third part of the Transit Bar project, Bodv Missing, a photo, video, text work which addresses the implications of the art stolen during the Third Reich and stored in the salt mines near Linz for Hitler's planned Fuehrermuseum museum there.