29 August 2009 – 15 November 2009

American artist Matt Mullican (born 1951, lives in Berlin and New York) is widely recognised as one of the most important artists of his generation. His oeuvre explores one of humanity’s most fundamental needs – our desire to grasp the meaning of human existence and understand the world we inhabit. His conceptual works are grounded in the symbolic meaning of their individual elements. Language and Mullican’s individual use of other idiosyncratic systems of classification provide the foundation and raw material for his art, which draws on a variety of models used to give order to our world (including encyclopaedias, tabularized lists, maps and pictographs). Created in a range of mediums and styles each of his works contains the seeds of something more universal. Mullican has laboured on the creation of these parallel worlds since the 1970s and they epitomize his sweeping artistic vision of creating a new world view through the continual development of divergent systems of language and symbols.

Created between 2003-2008, Mullican’s City as a Map (of Ideas) is comprised of 70 drawings, plans, collages, photographs and objects, and will be premiered in its entirety at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst. Setting its sights on Hamburg as an exemplary city, City as a Map (of Ideas) explores new ways of representing urban space. The work combines two systems of order which, although familiar elements of our daily life, are not usually conjoined: the city map and the encyclopaedia.
These models of classification combine and overlap in the numerous individual papers comprising the work as its perspective shifts from the synoptic perspective (of city maps and encyclopaedic entries) to a close-up perspective which captures the smallest details (the objects in an apartment and encyclopaedia sub-categories). Mullican’s work recasts, for example, an urban landmark such as Hamburg’s St. Michaeliskirche as an umbrella term for “bacteria and viruses”. While in the suburb of St. Pauli the various floors in an apartment building became the sites of “vitamins”, “minerals” and “proteins”. City as a Map (of Ideas) advances a conceptual notion of urban space in which the individual elements engage in a process of self-sublation. From its logical, ordered beginning, it descends down to the smallest detail in an increasingly manic and irrational vision of the city, which offers new and startling perspectives and leaves viewers spellbound. City as a Map (of Ideas) creates a subjective cosmos in which all of the elements are somehow interrelated and in which the city is transformed into a model for the world. (Translation: Damian Harrison)

The exhibition at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst will be accompanied by the publication of an artist’s book on Matt Mullican’s City as a Map (of Ideas), edited by Galerie für Landschaftskunst Hamburg and published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.

The exhibition will be accompanyed by an artist talk, guided tours, lectures and film screenings every Thursday.

The GAK is supported by Senator für Kultur der Freien Hansestadt Bremen.

The exhibition is supported by the Michael-und-Susanne-Liebelt-Stiftung, Hamburg.