I heard he paints fine pieces, I heard he had a style, and so I came to see his pictures and watch them for a while. And there he was this artist, a stranger to my eyes – Strumming my pain with his fingers, painting my life with his brush, killing me softly with colors, Killing me softly with colors, telling my whole life, with his brush, killing me softly with his piece.
The transformation of artists into people who are themselves the works of art postulated by Diederichsen, which ends in the radically subjective artistic positions seen in the works of Jensen, Melgaard, Mayer or Butzer, leads to a similar process of subjectification on the part of the collector. Within a radically subjective paradigm, collecting no longer follows genres or thematic categories within which the collector is active in the areas of video, Eco-Art or post-Internet.
The lack of maps and topographies providing orientation has led in the past years to an increasing prominence and visibility of the collectors themselves. Even the nature of already existing collections still brought together in line with the construction drawings of collecting from years gone by, can only be understood today if the subjective dispositions of the collection process are made known after the fact. This always comes up against problems where the later-formulated subjective intentions have little to do with the actual motives for collecting. When they serve the projections of a public that is more curious about attending collector dinners or private openings than about the actual intentions of the collector that bring them to such events.
Besides all of course still existing objective criteria for collecting, collecting in the paradigm of radical subjectivity is motivated by something that used to be described insufficiently with the term ‘gut feeling’. Instead of this, this exhibition would like to propose the term ‘Lori-Liebermann Effect’: not the observer looks at a picture and recognizes it as art, rather the picture (the sculpture, the video, the performance,…) looks at the observer and places him or her in a situation of being recognized.
As such, the defecation-become-picture in Bjarne Melgaards ‘Aerosol’ first and foremost becomes the most primary form of production and expression in infancy far removed from all categories such as ‘provocative’. The Choc, which the picture might be read as, becomes visible as the result of a lesson in cleanliness that Melgaard shirks from in a way exemplary for many painters of his generation. His withdrawal behind the first encounter with Grand Autre makes it possible to recognize the stain as surface and color, irrespective of the question as to what painting material and what painting surface has been chosen. It is not the defecation motif itself that is radical, but rather the withdrawal from any and every appeal to be taught cleanliness. What is radical is the insistence that a stain carries within it the potential to be recognized as a product made up of surface and color when the willingness is there to have oneself gazed at by the picture instead of being the observer who sees the picture.
This reversal of the gaze means that the pictures literally become incorporated into the observer. The purchase of a picture by a collector may not be sufficiently capable of executing this incorporation, because even when they buy a picture, collectors do not save themselves from the necessity of subjecting themselves to the picture.
Following this proposition of the person as the work of art, the collector no longer collects works of art, but rather collects artists. It is they who fascinate and interest the collector. And unlike the individual work, whose material purchase becomes a symbolic act, the collector cannot and does not want to own the artist. The collector has perhaps a picture, but the artist has a collector. This placing oneself in relation to the artist always involves becoming the artist’s collector and subjecting oneself to being transformed by his or her works.