Explaining Michael Riedel’s art is difficult – it’s like entering a particularly winding hedge maze where the hedges are mirrors and the path is a mirror and the sky is a mirror. (Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good artwork on its own.)
When Riedel organises an event, that is part of his art. The documentation of that event – from the preview posters to the post-event photos – are part of his art. When he reuses and reworks those artefacts into new posters and photos, that’s part of the art too. It’s endlessly recursive, a game that never finishes – like that mirror-maze.
You can see examples of this at David Zwirner on Grafton Street in Mayfair until 31 May, or if you’re in Paris, take a trip to the bombsite-ugly Palais de Tokyo (and I mean that as a compliment). Here Riedel has installed ‘Dual Air [Durer]’, the second part of hisAbsolut Vodka-sponsored project. And if you think the mirrored maze sounds complex…
In brief, Riedel recorded the seven-hour deinstallation of an exhibition of Durer in Frankfurt. Using voice-recognition software, he has printed all the words the recording picked up onto a vinyl floor, running in several directions, with all the Ls massively enlarged. During the installation, which also features the furniture used in the original exhibition, he plays the recording. Still with me? There are specialAbsolut cocktails too (though I don’t think these are vital to the artwork).
The effect is both simple and bewildering: you can appreciate the space, its fixtures and soundtrack and verbal flooring, as a reasonably clear architectural intervention, but once you start to unfold Riedel’s intention, you perceive its intriguing nature.
How much of art is in its display? Are these words, is this soundtrack to be considered all part of the artistic process? Does an exhibition end when it comes down or is it continued in the memory? Why should we consider spoken words fleeting utterances when they have as much weight as those written down?
As for those enlarged lower-case Ls, they pair with enlarged lower-case Os in the first part of Riedel’s installation last year; he says together they suggest the on/off signs (l/o), which plays into his ideas of when an artwork is really finished. I suspect Riedel believes they are never finished, like his post-show soundtrack, like his mirror-maze of artworks.
Top photo: Dual Air [Dürer], an Absolut art bar installation by Michael Riedel, Le Point Perché, Palais de Tokyo, April 2014 © Absolut.
Bottom photo: Jacques Comité [Giacometti], an Absolut art bar installation by Michael Riedel, Le Point Perché, Palais de Tokyo, July 2013 © Absolut.