Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 1#2 Bert Mebius 1 Jan 1986

Bert Mebius


MM1#2 bert m -

horses, one of those palm prints, deer, nothing special. At the end of the tour the guide admitted that what we had seen were only copies. The original works were elsewhere in the complex, and not on show for conservational reasons. In addition they were to be found at very inaccessible places. After astonishment, silence, and finally comprehension on our part, and embarrassed hesitation on his, the guide decided to show us ('Well, you're such a small group, and so interested') one of the originals. He led the way to a remote corner of the immense room, where we entered a low and narrow tunnel. In some places the tunnel was so narrow that we had to shuffle sideways, then again so low that we had to bend down, and take care not to rip open our backs by touching the ceiling. We came to a small room where one could not stand upright. Near the floor was a kind of little inner room where one had to sit on one's heels, and only four people at a time, and there ('Not as far away as possible, but in a way as near as possible', as Jaja said later), in a flat piece of rock near the floor, at first hard to distinguish from the natural cracks and scratches in the stone, were engraved the contours of two, what do you call them? ...anyway, it does not matter. But this was what J had to think about - and via Jaja also about Kiki and Hebe and Lili - when I read about your exhibition. And I remembered this quotation from Geoffry Madan, of which you once said that it had everything to do with the way you work: ....the guests did not have bells in their rooms, but at night there were servants in the corridors; white patches showed where they leaned with their wigs against the wall'. Though I have not seen your exhibition, yet I did imagine what it would be like. Near the doors leading to the exhibition rooms, you rubbed your dirty fingers against the wall a great many times (or perhaps you invited a class of schoolchildren to do it for you; just bore them stiff, by making them enter a room and leave. in and out). Actually nobody notices, which does not matter, and in the room where your work is displayed, a small notice is stuck all the wall, with the quotation from Madan, as one comes across notices saying 'out on loan' or 'in restauration'. Ever seen a notice saying 'out of use '? The other day I was in the Kröller-Muller museum with Kith Kiki; in the museum garden was supposed to be one of her father's works, his only sculpture in a European museum. Following the instructions on the map, we took the shortest way, through the shrubbery. Having arrived at the spot indicated on the map, a quiet shadowy corner of an extensive lawn, we did not find the 'sculpture consisting of five blocks of different geometrical forms (' Wandering Rocks ')' but only its imprint on the lawn, five withered yellow patches in a lawn of saturated green grass, beautiful. Recently I read something by Lili van Ginneken (or Janneke Wesseling, I can't remember), about the Deux Plateaux by Daniel Buren in Paris. and all the commotion it caused. Public and authorities filled with indignation, wanting the work to be taken down. Also indignant is Lili van Ginneken (or Janneke Wesseling),who holds it against Buren that he, being an artist with a political background, an artist for whom the temporariness of his work has always been essential, and who always protested against the 'false notion of immortal art, of an eternal work', has now created a monument that is everything but temporary, a monument to himself which on the photograph looks like the remnants of the witch's house in Hansel and Gretel, though, only bigger. Yet Daniel Buren did not create an immortal work at all, nor has he given up the ideological struggle against the establishment, which he sees as the basis for his work - on the contrary. He is only playing for higher stakes. Because if you want to create something of a truly disruptive nature, disruptive towards the familiar image and the establishment, a work in which temporariness can show its greatest strength, then

the best you can do is to use materials of the greatest durability, in a selling as established as possible. If you want to show that nothing lasts, it is more fun to tear down monuments than, say, clay huts. Buren speculated on all this indignant opposition, speculated that Léotard et al. will succeed in razing the Deux Plateaux to the ground, thus completing the work, and giving it its final significance. But quite another matter is that this thing with Bebe has rather upset me. See, it has

never happened to me before that someone stealthily handed me her telephone number, and that my story about the meeting of the Walrus and the Piglet was taken seriously. That first time I did not even see her, it could have been anybody. It was against nobody in particular