David Adjaye and Mark Leckey at Haus der Kunst, 30 Jan 2015 — 31 May 2015

David Adjaye and Mark Leckey at Haus der Kunst

Haus der Kunst presents two solo exhibitions: “Form, Heft, Material” by David Adjaye and “As If” by Mark Leckey.

The heterogeneous work of architect David Adjaye (b. 1966, Tanzania) comprises approximately 50 built projects, his most recent commissions include the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Museum of Slavery and Freedom in Cape Coast, Ghana. The buildings of the Ghanaian-British architect are often developed in collaboration with artist friends, including the homes he designed for Chris Ofili, Sue Webster and Tim Noble, and Lorna Simpson and James Casebere.
Adjaye‘s private structures play with the contrast between hermetically sealed fronts and unexpectedly generous openings in the back, thereby accommodating the owners’ need for a private retreat. In contrast, as open and permeable structures, his public buildings are socially effective architecture. Unlike structures of pure functionalism and iconic monumentality, they approach their users rather than patronizing them. Adjaye often uses materials that change color through their exposure to light, take on different textures due to varying weather conditions or provoke viewers to touch them because of their distinctive tactile qualities. They thereby also engage sensually in a dialogue with their audience.
The survey exhibition, the most extensive of Adjaye‘s career, is organized by Haus der Kunst and Art Institute of Chicago. It is curated by Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Zoë Ryan, John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Mark Leckey‘s (b.1964, United Kingdom) exhibition is structured according to four chapters: the show opens with autobiographical works – from “Are You Waiting” (1996), a precursor to “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore”, to “MyAlbum: A Rough-Demo” Video,” (2014-15) a filmed autobiography, which is premiered as a demo version. Leckey says: “‘MyAlbum’ is a record of all the events in my life during the twentieth century that I feel were significant. It is a memoir from 1954 until 1999.” In the central space, all five of the artist’s “Sound Systems” (2001–12) are presented for the first time as an ensemble. The speaker towers have their origins in mobile discotheques and have been a recurring element in Leckey‘s work since the early 2000s. Leckey understands music in general, and his “Sound Systems” in particular, as alternative communication channels: “Music speaks to everyone and art doesn’t […]. I just don’t understand why art can’t be a language that can be understood universally.” The “Sound Systems” form the exhibition’s control center; they are linked to the other works and rooms in the exhibition through an electronic circuit, and connect them as if they were a quasi-living organism. In the third space the exhibition continues with the installation “GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction” (2010) – a speaking refrigerator that shares its thoughts and living environment with viewers. In the videos and films of the fourth section, “ZooVidTek”, sculptural objects – in the shape of a cat, a rabbit, a duck, and a dog – are brought to life by means of digital slideshows or computer animations. In doing so, Leckey casually illustrates groundbreaking episodes of twentieth-century media history.

As in other instances in the exhibition, the titular “as if” also defines these works: the objects and sculptures that the visitor encounters here are not what they seem to be; they are duplicates and fakes that Leckey treats as if they were the real thing. The starting point of all his works is the attraction that brands and products, as well as images and works of art, exercise upon us. The artist translates this pull into formative and entertaining reflections on our time.

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