Wim Delvoye “The Order of Things” at The Museum of Art and History (MAH), Geneva

By Last Updated: February 22, 2024Views: 100

For its fourth XL exhibition, the Musée d’artwork et d’histoire de Genève (MAH) invited Wim Delvoye (1965) to analyze the museum’s connection to its collections and establishments. The visible artist will current an unique inventive and aesthetic expertise that deeply explores our relationship to artwork and the objects round us.

Following earlier artists Jakob Lena Knebl (“Stroll on the Water”), who examined the road between on a regular basis objects and aesthetic objects, Jean-Hubert Martin (“Draw Your Personal Conclusion”), who questioned the follow of accumulating, and Ugo Rondinone (“When the Solar Goes Up and the Moon Goes Down”), who explored the thought of transformation, Wim Delvoye’s visible and conceptual shocks appear to as soon as once more take up and orchestrate these points in their very own means. By bringing in each native and common references and orientations from artwork historical past, Delvoye quick circuits psychological classes that sieve and slim our judgements and perceptions, blurring the strains that restrict our understanding of issues.

One can say that Wim Delvoye is an artist who’s captivated with issues, artefacts and whether or not they’re recognised artworks or easy objects. “He has extraordinary data about artwork; it’s deeper than that of most artists. He’s a fantastic collector, for instance, of numismatics and Chinese language pictures,” MAH director Marc-Olivier Wahler emphasises. “He’s additionally captivated with in search of out issues in hidden corners that individuals might have forgotten, and this fascinates me.”

When the artist’s urge for food encountered the extremely wealthy storerooms of the MAH, the thought of an exhibition arose. Items from the museum’s assortment will partake in a recreation of reflection and distinction with items by Delvoye himself. The fabric accumulation, the mania of accumulating, and the consequences of formal and aesthetic echoes that emerge by the presentation all create a really tenuous narrative that guests are invited to weave for themselves, however which additionally permits for a questioning of the seemingly impenetrable boundaries that divide artwork objects and on a regular basis objects. On this joyous and playful profusion of objects, references and interventions that the artist presents as what he calls “elegant vandalism,” it’s nonetheless attainable to go down many roads.


One of many fixed thrusts of Wim Delvoye’s work is tearing one factor from its main logic, stripping an object of its unique context and transplanting it in a quasi-magical method to a different context of actuality. Icons and in style figures all of the sudden seem amid gates and doorways that neither enclose nor circumscribe any area. As an example, a Picasso turns into an impediment {that a} big set of marbles delights in piercing, the apparition of an odd determine suckles on the breast of polychrome spiritual sculptures, and circumstances are in dialogue with coffins. On this context, the bringing collectively of revolvers and madrier planks from the MAH’s arms and armoury assortment with the artist’s well-known tyres creates a symbolic worth; it embodies the need to detonate frontiers and certainties. Museum practices and up to date artwork, our sensible and aesthetic hierarchies, and our visible habits are toppled, diverted and set with out path. Deviations provoke, captivate and seize our consideration, and, within the case of Delvoye, they usually have large repercussions within the media. As Wahler stresses, “It’s his deep motivation that artwork, in his palms, involves belong to all methods—financial, scientific, pataphysical, to in style tradition and so forth.” Furthermore, it’s on this spirit that the MAH, Delvoye and the Laiteries Réunies Genève have partnered. Works from the museum’s assortment and works by the Belgian artist will quickly embellish the lids of tens of millions of small espresso pots de crème discovered in lots of Swiss properties.


There are basically two sorts of reversals. We discover the conceptual collapses instantly: Delvoye’s obsession with all the things usually deemed banal, vulgar or trivial has led to a real re-enchantment of the strange. He immediately approaches this materials with probably the most aesthetic references and abilities in artwork historical past and craft. For instance, a room exploring horror vacui, the follow that covers a floor till it’s saturated, provides a approach to conjure the concern of empty area. A completely engraved automotive’s physique, harking back to etching, creates dialogues with morion helmets worn by the Swiss military, highlighting a number of visible interpretations of the elemental human want to make sure bodily integrity. However these reversals are additionally bodily. They create an expectation from the contents, from what should be jealously guarded and conserved, they usually problem our aesthetic hierarchies. On this means, objects that seemingly have minor or circumstantial worth—our judgements of style even disregard them—can, as soon as positioned in a brand new context, say a fantastic deal about us, our fetishes and our obsessions.


There is no such thing as a set trajectory imposed by the profusion of strains, volumes, objects and echoes that the artist orchestrates; there isn’t a “nice narrative” constraining the customer’s step or eye. As a substitute, there’s a reflection on the very concept of the gathering, on the boundaries and beauties of the gesture of accumulation. A set may, subsequently, be motivated by formal resemblances. On this means, sure items by Tinguely resonate with clock mechanisms or a fraction of the unique Cloaca, now a cult statue, returned to its main, purely mechanical nature. When it comes to accumulation, assortment and possession, the place does ardour finish and pathology start? Delvoye asserts himself as an artist between Diogenes and Prometheus, between cynicism and the chic, drawing on artwork critic Eric Bracke’s formulation. He’s an aesthete who’s without end exposing us to the ever-changing actuality of nature, so fragile in certitude but seemingly strong that it presents the identical twists and distortions he applies to sure masterpieces of artwork historical past.

at The Museum of Artwork and Historical past (MAH), Geneva
till June 16, 2024

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