26th January – 16th March 2008
The Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen is delighted to be presenting “Land of Crystal,” the first major show of work by Geneva-based artist Mai-Thu Perret (born 1976) to be mounted in German-speaking Switzerland. The Kunst Halle thereby confirms its status as an important arena for promising young Swiss artists.
Mai-Thu Perret`s work makes use of the formal vocabulary and practices of modernism. The artist addresses modernism not in the form direct or indirect quotations or references, but via fictional strategies. In addition, she makes free and sometimes ironic use of feminist and post-feminist theory.
Perret is similarly wide-ranging in her choice of materials and media, which comprise painting, ceramics, textiles, sculptures, texts and video installations. Such variety does not entail a loss of conceptual or formal rigor. She parodies artistic ideals of the sublime, and in her appropriation procedures she aims for a craft aesthetic accompanied by a faintly esoteric aura. Everyday culture invades the parameters of classic high culture and distinctions between the two become blurred.
“Land of Crystal” uses three major works to represent the breadth and depth of Perret`s art. Occupying a position somewhere between Minimal Art and Op Art, the large-scale spiral sculpture We (2007) will appear in the first room at the Kunst Halle. The other two rooms will be dominated by the neon-light drawing Harmonium (2007) and the three-part video installation An Evening of the Book (2007) respectively. In these works a variety of media underscore the contrasting mood of each location. Some small paintings, textiles, a female figure, and items involving text complete the show.
On another level, this compact, precisely orchestrated spatial mise en scène inhabits a fictional world within which Perret has worked since 1999. Her narrative “The Crystal Frontier” involved a group women disillusioned with Western capitalist society who set up a commune in the desert of New Mexico to pursue artistic aims and live in accordance with their own ideals. This utopian commune constitutes a basic point of reference in many of the artist`s works, with individual exhibition items combining to form elements in an ongoing narrative.
“Land of Crystal” inaugurates the Kunst Halle`s program for 2008, which focuses on artistic fiction in contemporary art and the special narrative strategies it has developed. Organized partly in association with the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, “Land of Crystal” addresses narrative theory and thus opens the discussion of the issues at the center of this year`s program. On the other hand, it is a self-contained show that offers visitors in-depth insights into the fictional counterworlds conjured by Perret`s art.
A 256-page monograph on Mai-Thu Perret, produced in cooperation with the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, the Centre d`Art Contemporain, Geneva, and the Renaissance Society, Chicago, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition by Verlag Christoph Keller Editions/JRP-Ringier (ISBN 978-3-905701-55-5).
The exhibition has been made possible by Pro Helvetia, Gessner AG Seidenstoffweberei, Wädenswil, MÄSER digital media GmbH, Dornbirn, and Tisca-Tiara, Bühler/Urnäsch.