Art Steps out of the MuseumBy Peter Volkwein for Lars Koepsel
Art Steps out of the Museum
Until the end of thr 19th century the fine Arts represented the real world in a mimetic way. The patrons of art at that time were the nobility, the church and aspiring wealthy citizens. However with the increasing liberalization of social structures artists began to desire to be independent. Moreover they wanted art to be seen no longer only in terms of proficiency of technique, but for the act of creativity as an expression of creative thinking to be paramount. The invention of photography was of invaluable assistance in achiving this goal, for like no other medium it reproduced reality exactly and consequently released the fine Arts from their mimetic duty. This fundamentally changed the basis on which artists worked and lived.
With the advent of the now nonrepresantational and abstract art the old patrons moved to the background. In the place of them came a growing and over-expanding art market, collectors, maecenas and museums. In order to increase their market value, artists had to attain the aura of a "museum artist". Academic study and the power of genius greatly enhanced the social prestige of artists, with the result that more and more people chose to become artist. In order to survive in the art world artists now had to specialize.
As artists won greater independence from their patrons and art buyers they began to produce for the museums and for exhibitions. The ensuing struggle for recognition by the art establishment lead to the modern demand for autonomy in the arts. Such demands for autonomy are however always overshadowed by the reality of artists´ dependence on the market. The financing of artistic creation always brings the artist back to face her/his dependence on the market and the buyers. Even national art endowments and education programs or the purchase of works by the museums only effect this dependence in a minor way. Artists themselves have realized this contradictory reality very clearly and in the last decades have searched for opportunities outside the museums, and in this way tried to overcome the restrictions placed on the autonomy of the arts by the position of the museums. As a result, new branches of art have arisen such as: happenings, Fluxus, performance art, action art, conceptual art, mail art and land art / art in landscape. The latter branch is where Lars Koepsels artistic statement belongs.
His project COME is planned as a global work. The inspiration was a performance during which he danced the word KOMM (engl. come). The project has been realized four times in Germany and is planned to be realized in several different countries, where it will be adapted to fit each different environment. In Da-An Park,Taipei, Taiwan about 1000-3000 trees will be inscribed with the character
(the Chinese equivalent of COME) in different sizes. These inscriptions are executed with natural materials (thus causing no pollution or damage to nature). They will desintegrate by themselves after a certain time, depending on weather. As Lars Koepsel says in his concept statement:
"The bordered nature of the area inscribed (in the form of a huge / speak: lai covering the whole qj Da-An Park) makes the viewers realize they have entered a special place. As they move about, they begin to feel the power and spiritual energy of the earth and also the trees. This energy enables the trees to express themselves. The symbol in this sense is the translation of this invisible energy. With the slow fading away of the characters the trees return to their original state. Thus the viewers don´t have a material durable visual presence which they can return to time and time again. Once the characters have disappeared only the the process and the individual experience remains to stimulate the viewer´s spiritual understanding."
This work by Lars Koepsel can be fully accorded the status of an autonomous artwork. It will never have the aura of a museum piece, and will always be independent of the art market and it´s mechanisms. Lars Koepsel makes transitoriness itself into an artwork.
Peter VolkweinMuseum für konkrete Kunst
Translated by Catherine Van Hale