02 Apr                     01 May 2011

Dokumentation Reiner Ruthenbeck


curated by Francesca Bertolotti

exhibition views, photos: Ela Bialkowska

"Even though few people in Italy are familiar with his practice, Reiner Ruthenbeck (Velbert, Germany, 1937) ranks with the most important German sculptors of his generation. From his studies with Joseph Beuys to his participation to landmark exhibitions such as Op Losse Schroeven and When Attitudes Become Form, Ruthenbeck‘s sculptural production belongs to the core of European artistic research in the Seventies, caught between Minimalist heritage and the conceptual turn. The influence and the prefiguring force of his manifold, ironic formal language are such that it is almost impossible to explain his absence from the ranks of putative fathers of contemporary Italian artistic practices; this exhibition‘s aim is to contribute a remedy to such absence."

These could have been the opening lines for the press release of an exhibition of Reiner Ruthenbeck in an Italian venue. The show would have included sculptures from all over the world, ready to be flown back to their lenders after its end; it would have attempted to be a remedy to an absence; its attempt would have failed.

This exhibition presents the full-scale images of those same works, which however stay where they were before. As such, Dokumentation Reiner Ruthenbeck is also a way to reflect on the mechanisms behind the distribution, presentation and survival of artworks, on indirect affiliations, on belated grafts. There is no remedy to absence.

"Certain names of town, Vézelay or Chartres, Bourges or Beauvais, serve to designate, by abbreviation, their principal churches. This partial acceptation comes at length – if the names in question are those of places that we do not yet know--to mould the name as a whole which henceforth, whenever we wish to introduce into it the idea of the town--the town which we have never seen – will impose on it the same carved outlines, in the same style, will make of it a sort of vast cathedral. (...) I must return to the station, where I am to wait for my grandmother and Francoise, so that we should all go on to the beach." (Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove, Place Names: The Place)

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication titled Remedies to the absence of Reiner Ruthenbeck, edited by Vincenzo Latronico and published in three languages by Archive Books, Berlin.