To lose Latrine

Günther Förg and Mathieu Malouf

opening Saturday 03.07.2021, 12-16 p.m 

“The Haussmannization of the upside down”

by Huysman Ringheim

Dear Reader, all of what is in front of you will be contextualized clearly for you soon enough. I, the Writer, shall hold your hand through it all and be your dedicated intellectual guardian. Your analytical Sherpa towards the summit of the mountain of conceptual cognizance, if you like. But first, please bear with me for an anecdotal backdrop.

Imagine this, dear Reader;

L. Wittgenstein, Charlie Chaplin and A. Hitler walks into what has, up until recently, functioned as the cultural department of the Bulgarian Embassy to Austria, but is now, you might have guessed it, a bar. Not just any bar, but a bar with an, that’s exactly right, extremely clever concept. With its palatial headroom, mirrored floors and chequered walls, the now widely franchised "(Bar)bershop", is quite the attraction and its community’s loyal cup-bearer. The rules are few; no haircut means no drinking, and no drinking means no haircut. Also, a “costumers only” policy is pedantically enforced in the restrooms. No free haircuts for the homeless. Get a haircut somewhere else so you can get a job to get the money to get a better haircut. Repeat. The journey is the destination.

"Whatever he's having" says the Englishman, pointing to his muse. 

"Just a bit on the sides" says the politician, pouting his lips from side to side, pouring his Fan-Schop.

Meanwhile, our friend Ludwig is in a heated argument with another guest, freshly lined up, with the dandiness to give d'Aurevilly himself a boner. In his shaved neck, the barber has left five neatly cut patches of hair, forming a monochrome Nordic cross flag or perhaps the silhouette of a window frame. Looking fresh.

“The question is that the window as art is an art of pure sensations, it is milk without the carton, living by itself under its own aspect, leading its own life independently from the shape of the carton which does not express its essence, sensations and taste. But I, the Philosopher, have reason to believe that you, the Visitor, is unable to recognize this essence, in the same way you are unable to recognize an actor in the theatre playing the part of different characters, simply because the face of the actor is hidden by that of the character.”

“B-but...” his defenseless counter debater attempts.

“That’s right – but!  To mock your very telling inadequacy to comprehend the historical boldness of this claim would be just as petty as addressing a newborn baby with a dirty diaper as someone who has "shat himself.” Not fair, is it? Language, mein freund. Exciting stuff.”

The Philosopher stands from his chair, grunts, and with considerable force, strikes the young man’s dome flat-handed. 

“Mashallah, motherfucker!”

Ha ha! Aren’t you just the sweetest, most humble guest, my noble Reader? How truly unbearable it must be to, with a straight yet appropriately interested face, endure the reading of a text so filled with references and symbolism out of your own level of understanding and conceptual insight that you might as well try discussing whether an anti-natalist can be a sperm donor with a Khoisan-speaker by shaking a dice cup. Grab my hand, little one – allow me to emancipate your mind from the shackles of complete and utter puzzlement! Here you go, dear Reader, a generous portion of clarity:

Somewhere inside the room in which you are standing is Mathieu Malouf`s “Big Toilet” in a, compared to the unattainable original, very spare format due to crippling, almost violent printing costs and an absolute unwillingness to accumulate the means to cover them. In Bodo this fine evening, you will find that the toilet is flipped upside down. Function reduced to décor. A joke. The Latrine as starting point for an exhibition of minimalist painting; is that an emphasis on the subversion of the local I’m sensing? A play on Kippenberger’s Metro-Net and its relationship to Forg’s demolished mirror works somewhere deep down the Rotterdam subway network, even? In this exhibition by Haus der Kunst, two identical toilets, one in Oslo and one, all the way on the other side of the globe, upside down in Bodo, are interconnected by the portal-like qualities of the toilet and its direct interrelation to any other toilet within the same sewer system. The essence of the exhibition is not gathered in one location, but is dispersed somewhere between where you are standing and where I am standing. Even if you came to visit our fine Oslo location, you would never be able to encounter the work in its physical presence. Rather, your perception would be limited to fragments of the work which all hint at the complete structure, but which simultaneously emphasize the absence of all other elements. 

The gallery walls, painted tricolor a la totalitaire for the occasion, mimics the walls of the Gallerist’s privately shared, gender neutral Gents room. Forg’s manipulated window paintings are fully exhausted of meaning and potential for any personal connotative experience by draining the works of all initial coloristic choice and a complete disrespect for the original size and format; shepherding, luring almost, the once radical idea of the minimalist painting into its predestined final form; interior. Art as décor and décor as haut monde’s favorite identity marker for a socially adaptive, jet set manner of living. 

Dear Reader and Visitor, we thank you. We thank you for your patience and will to learn and listen. Enjoy your stay. The toilet is to the right. 

1 Iconic Austrian disciplinarian

2 Funny English person

3 Austrian painter/politician