curated by Sabine Schaschl
31 May to 2 September 2018
We are pleased to be able to present the latest project by German artist Till Velten (b. 1961 in Wuppertal, lives and works in Basel, Berlin, Freiburg i.B. and Vienna on an alternating basis) at Museum Haus Konstruktiv. In this site-specific work, Velten explores the theme of dementia and the phenomenon of forgetting in the charged environment of art that is primarily based on mental creativity and planability. What if conceptual artists were to forget? With this question as a starting point, Till Velten presents his piece Wenn die kognitive Ordnung zerbricht (When Cognitive Order Collapses), an artistic research project.
Since 2001, the conversation has been Till Velten’s artistic medium and his most important research tool. The exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv is based on the artist’s research and conversations with the nursing staff and other employees, as well as with relatives of residents at the dementia competence center Sonnweid in Wetzikon. The text fragments selected by Velten reflect very different experiences and emotions in dealings with people suffering from dementia: the feeling of having lost one’s previous life, changing friendships, the new life at Sonnweid and ever-present death. The conversation partners’ statements, read out by professional voice artists, have been arranged as an atmospheric tapestry of sound. With this melody of speech and sound that generates tones and forms, the artist demonstrates the collapse of language and contexts of meaning.
For the piece Wenn die kognitive Ordnung zerbricht, Velten transforms the exhibition space into a walk-through installation that becomes a platform for various forms of encounters and conversations. The installation presents itself as a glittering landscape of Swarovski crystals, enticingly illuminated by different pulsating lights. A revolving door of reflective film divides the exhibition space into two contrary halves that symbolically represent each individual visitor’s freedom to make decisions: one half of the room is reminiscent of an enchanting glistening winter landscape with tantalizing coloring and its sunbathing lawns invite visitors to linger, while the other half appears somber and threatening – here, dark shiny picture panels resembling faces are seen floating, with integrated video recordings of pairs of eyes and lips that seem to move in synchrony with the spoken words. Like a kaleidoscope, one hanging rotating crystal casts various spectral color patterns onto the wall.