‘The near past always has the most tension'

Studiolo curators Fredi Fischli & Niels Olsen respond to The Nineties

We were really curious to see how Nicolas Trembley approached this idea, as it reflected many of our own curatorial interests. This summer we curated a group show titled ‘HOME’ at LUMA Foundation in Zürich, which of course resembles the ‘Wohnzimmer/Büro’ exhibition by Christian Nagel. With Bob Nickas, we also recently curated the exhibition ‘69/96’ at the Gebert Foundation in Switzerland - it was our task to focus on the ninetie in that, and we decided to focus on the work of Sylvie Fleury, Michel Majerus and Albert Oehlen.

Of course we’re too young to have witnessed really any of the ’90’s art scene, so we have a speculative view but at the end of the decade, it was fun to visit Rein Wolfs’ shows at the Migros Museum as teenagers - it was the time of institutional critique. Karen Kilimnik's ‘Hellfire Club 1997' exhibition at the Kunsthalle Zürich still resonates too. Kilimnik’s gardens that worked as a fantasy-like display for her drawings at 303 was really exciting for us. Also to see Sylvie Fleury’s installation - which we only knew from reproduction before - and the re-created ‘Wohnzimmer/Büro’ at Nagel/Draxler. It’s really rare to see Pierre Joseph’s work [at Air de Paris], so that was a great discovery.


Karen Kilimnik's presentation with 303 Gallery in The Nineties at Frieze London 2016. Courtesy: Frieze

Karen Kilimnik's presentation with 303 Gallery in The Nineties at Frieze London 2016. Courtesy: Frieze

The choice to focus on this recent decade seems very interesting to us. The near past always has the most tension, and is still the least resolved. Arguably, it’s not really about history in a closed-off sense: it’s much more about looking at the beginning of the careers of artists who are now very influential protagonists, and built up impressive oeuvres. It really struck us to see how many of the artists in this section are todays pioneers for a new, young generation of artists.

If we were doing something similar, there are so many artists we’d want to feature - but one who stands out and makes sense in this group is Ashley Bickerton. His work from the ‘90s is rarely seen, but he’s such a role model for contemporary artistic strategies. We’re organizing an exhibition with Christopher Williams at ETH Zürich’s architecture department. He’s another pioneer, so to speak. Actually this idea of pioneers is an ongoing interest to us - it’s the name of our new column.

Lead image: Cinderella from Pierre Joseph's 'Characters to be Reactivated' (1993—). Courtesy: the artist and Air de Paris; image: Frieze

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