After seeing Kai Althoff’s huge installation at MoMA last month, I’ve been left wondering “Who is Kai Althoff? And what is he all about?” Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I didn’t have a shred of context about his work prior to seeing the show, except that Jean Marie suggested I go see the show, since he (like me?) is prolific and varies widely in what he creates/produces – and here is an interesting way of bringing it together in an exhibition – that is to say, arranging a massive amount of varied objects, paintings, detritus in a space without having everything be presented in a more formal/precious way – there weren’t even wall tags for the works in the exhibit, but a sort of photocopy list/diagram of works that you could carry around as you wondered through the show.
So, as a result, with so little information, I knew not if he was a contemporary artist or an artist of from the 2nd world war. I guessed from all that I saw that he had at least lived through the war, and that I somehow had never heard of him in all my art history studies over the years…
But now, with a bit of time on my hands (and an even greater curiosity about how I could have missed hearing about an artist with such apparent importance that MoMA committed a huge space for him to dump a huge amount of art/debris/artifacts/etc. in) I’m digging in to learn more…
First, I discovered he is basically the same age as me:
Kai Althoff is a German visual artist and musician, born February 1966 in Cologne Germany. Wikipedia
Then, from the MoMA site:
“Within an environment envisioned by the artist upon seeing the gallery allotted to him, he arranges work stemming from his early youth to the very present, in a manner of a child being handed toys, new and old: some are cherished and idolized, some are semi-precious in rank, some are abandoned and neglected in slumber of increasing hate generating towards them. Some are loved to the utmost, so much he’d want to hold onto them until the very last moment before death, and beyond.
“The work being treated as such will be comprised of fragments of former larger scale environments, drawings, paintings, objects found and fabricated. In ‘and then leave me to the common swifts’, nothing is an attempt of recreating the original composition of when these works were displayed each for its first time. Instead the artist gives in to whatever his innate forces originating in his emotions command him to do upon the encounter with this work, his very own, for the most part. The result is further also constrained by time or its lack, and the pressure created by complex sociological processes, which sometimes leads the artist to surrender to a fatalism otherwise strongly fought.”
And… here’s something about his music which I’ll definitely have to check out soon…
Album: Es liebt Dich und Deine Korperlichkeit ein Ausgeflippter
Label: Blue Chopsticks
Review date: Apr. 2, 2002