01 June 2008 – 10 August 2008

The work of Danish artist FOS (*1971) ranges between autonomous artwork and applicable design. He says about himself that he uses “social interaction as a material, as I would a colour, or a lump of clay”. Since 1999 he refers to his artistic approach as social design. Social design thereby designates a procedure that influences the actual physical space as well as its architectural environment and embodiment to release the seemingly defined significances we attribute to it by these components. FOS creates settings, so called platforms, in which people can interact socially using objects, large scale installations, fashion, graphic and interior design, performances, music, and lectures.
In other words: FOS is using the art space as a transformative mechanism for (social) situations rather than as an exhibition space for art objects in a traditional sense. At the same time it’s not his intention to declare society a space of art in the sense of Beuys. In fact he means to import social patterns into the exhibition space. “Anything is potential art” instead of “Everybody is an artist”. However, this does not imply the artistic object or the aesthetics of design being secondary. In fact he does consider each element as a communicator and participant within a process. Therefore in FOS’s social design each part assumes responsibility in interaction of the individual parts proclaiming diversity and de-hierarchisation as a final aim.

In practical terms this may signify returning waste of the Frieze Art Fair in London – paper, lupo foil, tape, parts of booth walls, plastic foil, wooden slats etc. – to the commercial artistic space by transforming it into a proper ice-cream stand (The Storage of Frieze Art Fair Made into an Ice Cream Stand, 2004). Or he designs uniforms for the management of the Busan Biennale (The System Is Loose I Think I Love You, 2006). Or as a contribution to the Sculpture-Biennale in Riga he establishes a vegetable stall in the same shade of blue being used in the european flag for the local farmer’s market- shortly before Lettland’s entry in the EU (Fruit Stand for Two Vendors, 2004).

Memory Theatre Twig! is the start of the exhibition programme developped by the new director of the GAK, Janneke de Vries, and FOS’ first institutional exhibition ever. Therefore he is going to realise a large scale, multi faceted project that relates to the history of cabinets of rare objects and the“Wunderkammer”. In 15th to 17th century Europe such accumulations of different items used to function as memory storage or “memory theatre”. Furthermore they always used to be objects of prestige for monarchs and scientists, expressing social states. Thus two aspects are also thematised in their ambiguity by FOS: Power and visual design. Furthermore the cabinet of rare objects as well as the artistic approach stand for the objects’ abidance in between defining categories.
FOS considers his GAK exhibition as a subsection or “twig” of a contemporary version of a cabinet of rare objects. As an attempt of making memories memorable by materialising them. His platforms serve as such materialisation. For Memory Theatre Twig! he arranges five of them all over the exhibition room. That way he converts GAK into an angled aisle system made of semi transparent, coloured tents and jigsaw puzzle like flooring. FOS also displays a construction consisting of pipes that extends into the external ambience as well as new objects and wall paintings. This system is aiming to evade classifying categories. It generates information by joining memories and their objective manifestation. The emerging situation is the atmospheric setting for events of various formats. It also is an autonomous art language that exists beyond a functional purpose.

As further element of the exhibition FOS will undertake a complete redesign of the GAK lobby. His permanent installation will turn it into a space of abidance, information and communication. Thus one of his platforms remains visible in GAK after Memory Theatre Twig! will be finished and becomes another twig in FOS’ memory theatre.

FOS will be presenting a performance at the opening.

A catalogue in German/English will be published containing a detailed documentation of the work displayed at the GAK as well as a conversation between FOS and Janneke de Vries.

Curator: Janneke de Vries