Lutz / Guggisberg

Ich sah die Wahrheit


With the far from modest title «Ich sah die Wahrheit» (I saw the truth) Andres Lutz and Anders Guggisberg present themselves in their exhibition in the parallel room of Kunsthalle Zürich. They do so with a single object, that by virtue of a small source of light is transformed into an installation taking up the entire room. Such reduction aiming at an overwhelming effect comes as a surprise from two artists whose work is normally associated with exaggerated language and material, and who create crazily composed, thrown together, painted or sculptured worlds of the imagination.

Composed using sticks carefully selected from forests and meadows, the installation «I saw the truth» resembles an architectural model and succeeds in uniting the entire range of man’s cultural achievement from pile dwellings through to Buckminster Fuller or Zaha Hadid. Lit by a small lamp, it casts wavering shadows on the wall, totally out of proportion with its size, capturing in its reflections the entire history relating both to cinematic and visual art, whilst also recalling Fischli / Weiss, Roman Signer, Naum Gabo and many, many others.

Andres Lutz and Anders Guggisberg (born 1968 and 1966, who live and work in Zurich), introduce themselves in the catalog «The Great Unknown», published in conjunction with their receiving the Manor Art Prize and their exhibition in St. Gallen Art Museum in 2002, as follows “Have worked together since 1996. Andres Lutz also performs as the other half of theater duo “Geholten Stühle” with Gerhard Meister, with whom he has devised theatrical programs since 1996, programs that aim to pull the rug out from under people’s feet in order to replace it with a shaggy, synthetic one. [More recently, he has teamed up with Frank Heierli, with whom he has also performed in Kunsthalle Zürich]. Anders Guggisberg regularly partners Pipilotti Rist, primarily as a composer of flying musical carpets, and as a spiritual co-pilot on her long-distance flights. As Lutz / Guggisberg they produce all manner of things. They rush at a leisurely pace and dream about creating the great work.”

Lutz / Guggisberg have made a name for themselves with their overflowing installations, universes of the absurd, nourished by the sublime and profane realms of ideas and materials. The two artists employ an almost scientific approach characterized by playful use of language and cultural anthropology free of a methodical foundation. They have an evident preference for bourgeois ideas and aesthetic settings, enjoy uprooting familiar things from their original context, rearranging them, and presenting them in a new angle. In this context, the Lutz / Guggisberg library that they naturally made themselves, plays a key role in their work cosmos: affectionately carved of wood and lovingly supplied with titles, half-titles and blurb, their books create a constantly growing collection of collective knowledge - so to speak a successor to and reinterpretation of Flaubert’s «Bouvard & Pécuchet», but also several more contemporary artists, that immediately come to mind (some are mentioned earlier).

The manifold variations of beauty inherent in bourgeois taste are reflected in all the artists’ installations, along with a humorous criticism of phenomena from everyday life and the art world, as indicated by the titles of installations produced in recent years: «Die erste grosse Einzelausstellung» (The first great solo exhibition) «Wie stampfe ich in nützlicher Frist einen modernen Themenpark aus dem Boden» (How to produce a modern theme park from thin air in a profitable period of time) or «Alles Felle seltener Tiere» (All skins of rare animals). Both with their objects and titles the two artists use a cunning strategy of ironic diversion from all things serious that has the effect of emphasizing it all the more. In addition to seemingly all-encompassing installations (see also the «short additional text by Lutz / Guggisberg intended for the reverse of the invitation, there are also lone objects (which are, of course, part of the general cosmos): Knobbly chunks of roots that might just as easily represent Chinese sacral art as home-made items for the church bazaar, take us on a journey into the world of mysterious, precious items that depending on whether they are presented on a dining room table, museum pedestal or an overflowing desk, develop a totally different meaning. Munificently produced cups, trophies and monuments, ideally complement the world of art and everyday life; take the cup for the person who made Karin’s great dream come true or the other important personality who saw the truth, and let everyone profit from it – presumably the installation in this exhibition is also dedicated to them.

Lutz / Guggisberg are capable of everything, and do it; their work reflects every conceivable stylistic school, and is replete with references, particularly to more recent art history. However, the mix of self irony and humor always present in generous measure, transform the deliberate use of references and exaggerated action into a paradox that must be taken seriously.

Staging a show by Lutz / Guggisberg alongside the exhibition by American artist Sean Landers, who ventures to employ the misleading – at many levels – strategies of failure and idiocy to locate the individual in art and life, opens up another exploration of how humor and self-irony can be applied as constructive, critical ways of addressing a subject. Unlike Landers, Lutz / Guggisberg draw on the comedy of language and something like a variant of Dadaism given an epic gloss in pursuing a strategy that becomes fraught with both weird idiocies and serious matters, a strategy of the “idiotic”; they don the comedian’s attractive, funny clothing, that of the bourgeois who readily admits his amateurishness, and who employs childish imaginaton and petty-bourgeois friendliness to present comedy as liberty.

Our communication programm is kindly supported by Swiss Re

The Kunsthalle would like to thank: the Presidential Department of the City of Zurich and the Luma Foundation