Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph | March 6–October 26, 2008 | Kunsthaus Graz

Los Carpinteros – Cama, 2007
Carsten Höller – Y, 2003
Installation view : Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Sammlung als Aleph, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria 2008
Photo : Jen Fong

A comparative reading of the complex literary œuvre of the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges lies at the point of departure for this exhibition. Borges’s oeuvre and its conceptual as well as narrative landscape is used as a methodology to build up a sequence of potential narratives (and fictions), continued (as if) en abîme in a collective archive of visual imaginary, based upon the collection. Within this labyrinthine context, the collection takes on a mode of one of the most enigmatic Borges’s symbols, Aleph – the point that includes all the times and all the spaces of the universe, an abstract and at the same time concrete sphere where they are contained. It cannot be grasped through “normal” perception because it encloses infinity but anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion. As such, the collection is a Model, a primary Structure, unfolded into infinity, in a circular choreography of fiction and reality.

The exhibition Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph consists of three narrative chapters – themselves subdivided in multiple re-arrangements – staged in a sequence of approximately two month’s duration each, and dramatized within an architectural setting developed by Vienna-based architectural office, the nextENTERprise (Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and Ernst J. Fuchs). Such concept aims at generating a dynamic of the entire show, introducing a flux and changeability into a narrative structure and guaranteeing its performative and theatrical potential. Thematically, the exhibition is organized within the sequence of potential structures and possible fictions: from the issues concerned with the principles of identity and meanders of authorship through paradoxes of language and space-time confluences down to conjunctions of universe and utopia, reality and fiction, mirror and encyclopaedia… As such, the show emphasizes the processual reading of the act of collecting as practice(s), in which combinations and permutations of arrangements create ever new meanings, contexts and relationships between artworks.

Furthermore, the exhibition considers Borges’s favourite stylistic trope, structure en abîme as a spatial metaphor and rhizomatic device: here, the structural (and symbolic) endlessness of Kunsthaus Graz’s architecture connects with an attempt to (mentally) navigate through temporal and spatial layers of T-B A21’s collection. Structure en abîmebelonged to the writer’s preferred visual arrangements of images: as a narrative structure, a trope and a spatial model, it poses a philosophical question about infinity or infinite periodic repetitions and by means of a baroque organization of space, it establishes an order that is in itself a visual paradox. According to a principle of endless inclusion, it modifies our belief in the truth of our perceptions and sets up a tension between what can be conceived logically and what can be concretely, materially or sensorily perceived. Like a well-drawn labyrinth, it is endless and, like a labyrinth, it sets up against the order of the world, which is impossible to discern, the conceptual order of the trope that corrects the imperfect notions that “realistic” thought has fostered. The notion of endless circularity is present in labyrinths as well as in mirrors and in dreams that include other dreams or the dreamer. 
March 6 - October 26, 2008
Kunsthaus Graz
Phase 1: March thru April
Haluk Akakçe, Fiona Banner, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Douglas Gordon, Florian Hecker, Carsten Höller, Jim Lambie, Los Carpinteros, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Jason Rhoades, Catherine Sullivan, Heimo Zobernig

Phase 2: May thru August
Darren Almond, Fiona Banner, Tiago Carneiro da Cunha, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Iran do Espírito Santo, Isa Genzken, Jim Lambie, Jón Laxdal, Los Carpinteros, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Ernesto Neto, Rivane Neuenschwander, Rivane Neuenschwander & Cao Guimarães, Olaf Nicolai, Thomas Struth, Do-Ho Suh

Phase 3: September thru October
Kutlug Ataman, Monica Bonvicini, Janet Cardiff, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Olafur Eliasson, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Cerith Wyn Evans, Florian Hecker, Mathilde ter Heijne, Roger Hiorns, Jim Lambie, Sarah Lucas, Ján Mančuška, Sarah Morris, Olaf Nicolai, Raqs Media Collective, Matthew Ritchie, Thomas Ruff, Hans Schabus, Salla Tykkä
Tue, April 15/7pm, Space04/Film screening Jorge Luis Borges
Performance (1970, dir. by Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell)
Profile of a Writer, Vol. 7: Jorge Luis Borges (1983)

May 16-18/Space04/Symposium Jorge Luis Borges: Aleph

Tue, Jun 3/7pm, Space04/Film screening Jorge Luis Borges
Cuentos de Borges I (1991, dir. by Héctor Olivera, Gerardo Vera) Los libros y las noches (1999, dir. by Tristán Bauer)

Sep. 5-6/Space04/Symposium: Collection as Aleph
Supported by
Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein