Nic Hess. Good Morning, Germany! Passages 1
Exhibition 26.03 – 06.06.04
Installation drawing is what Nic Hess calls the result of his artistic endeavors. Hess does not draw in the traditional sense of the word but often uses unusual materials, such as pieces of cut tape and scissors, that he then combines with paintings and sculptures in installations. Although he often makes preliminary sketches for his site-specific installations, these function exclusively as points of departure. Drawing in a specific space and as a reaction to that space are vital to his form of expression. It is in this way that his works achieve their ultimate forms.
Nic Hess spins the web of his story, hand over hand, from compression into knots, with episodes emerging out of forms. He addresses and processes themes, icons and emblems from different cultures and ordinary everyday situations, creating confusing yet harmonious correlations and dynamic imaginary worlds.
Nic Hess calls his installation drawing "Good Morning, Germany!", a reference to the film, "Good Morning Vietnam", because he wishes to draw attention (impishly!) to the fact that this is his first solo exhibition in a German institution and because the title serves as a kind of greeting that begins a discussion the artist wishes to conduct with his viewer.
The artist’s wish to engage in a dialogue with the viewer is a key issue in his work. Nic Hess tells stories with pictures and he finds a limitless source of images for them in the world of commercial icons. He falls back on well-known motifs in art history and everyday life and on trusted brands that have become global status symbols. These motifs overlap, melting into one another, sometimes forming ornaments.
The motifs’ overriding quality is their high level of familiarity and distribution, which enables a universal understanding of them. Their message is positive without its having a specific meaning, with their contents communicating more on an emotional level. In this way they distinguish themselves from pictographs, which convey their characters much more explicitly. The events on which Nic Hess falls back upon join each other in the viewer’s mind to create a story.
Whereas trademarks were easily recognizable in Nic Hess’s earlier works, in his installation for Haus der Kunst they serve as a kind of foil on which he makes his own individual marks. Here he deals with these "models" more freely than in the past and uses their wide range of meaning to his fullest advantage. Directly at the building’s entrance a Pop Art woman with full red lips emerges out of the dark marble floor. Her marble shoulders prove to be a perfect trompe l'œil. Next to her, and yet infinitely far away, lies the dream destination New York with its skyline…
Functional and exhibition spaces begin to merge with one another in a playful manner. Nic Hess creates openings in the non-original wall covering, allowing the viewer a glimpse of the original building. By uncovering the original architecture the artist exposes the strategy of concealment and re-exposes a part of German history. All this takes place in the mirror of the building’s history. The artist reacts to this by placing an over-sized mirror in the center of the historically-charged central hall where Adolf Hitler held his speeches. In this way, the visitor becomes a part of history as well as of the exhibition. By confronting the visitor with his own reflection, the artist provokes him to examine how he deals with Germany’s past.
Nic Hess, born in Zurich in 1968, attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam from 1992 to 1996 and the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin in 1998. In 2001 he received a grant from P.S. 1 in New York and has worked since then in New York and Zurich.
Sponsored in part by the Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia
Stretch your view
Stretch your view
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