Text by Markus Mueller (Head of Public Relations Skulpturen. Projekte in Münster 97 … Head of Public Relations Biennale del Arte Venezia 2015)
WunderDeinName- KinderLesenKlassiker (WonderYourName- ChildrenReadingClassics)
When I first met Chris Rehberger in 1995, it may have been 1996. I worked on the Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997 with Klaus Bussmann, Kasper König, Florian Matzner and Ulrike Groos. For me, this work was characterized by the days and nights, conversations, arguments, carousals, wild dances, football parties and excessive demands; by successful and also repeatedly failing attempts to realize specific projects in particular locations. There were essentially two groups of artists: Dan Graham, Michael Asher, Isa Genzgen, etc., in short, those that had participated in Münster already in 1977 or in 1987. And then there were those who first participated in 1997: Tobias Rehberger, Andrea Zittel, Douglas Gordon, Jorge Pardo, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Martin Kippenberger Maurizio Cattelan, Charles Ray, Gabriel Orozco, Marjetica Potrc, Mark Dion, Ayse Erkmen, Yutaka Sone, Andreas Slominski, Janet Cradiff, Christine Borland, Bethan Huws, Thomas Hirschhorn, Eulalia Valdo Sera, Karin Sander, etc. … After the first sausage with apple juice in the restaurant Töddenhoek, Michael Asher was certain that, again, he would install his caravan, as he had done already in 1977 and 1987. In other words, the planning stage of the project was completed very quickly, and its implementation could be started immediately. Others, such as Tobias Rehberger, and Ayse Erkmen, developed one great idea after another. They had to do this because the first, second or third idea, more or less understandably, was rejected by a third party whose consent was required. Some artists, for various reasons, cost reasons, had to abandon the realization of their work or the development of ever-new ideas, Charles Ray and Gabriel Orozco, for example. Maurizio Cattelan was fascinated by failure in such a way that, together with with Francesco Bonami, he collected the stories of all unrealized projects of the past twenty years of Skulptur. Projekte in Münster, and published them in the exhibition catalog. Until today, many who were there at the time remember this period, this work on the exhibition, as a formative experience.
But back to the beginning: The structure of the exhibition, that’s for sure, was scrawled on a beer coaster in Venice in 1995. Kasper König drew a circle on this coaster. He placed a few points both inside and around the circle. Said: “This is the promenade.” And meant the circle. “Next time, no Easter egg hunt, the next time we focus, we work within and on the promenade, plus lake Aasee.” And looked up confidently and triumphantly. That was in 1995. And I can’t quite remember whether Chris Rehberger joined the team that year, or in 1996. In any case, it was Kasper König who had the idea to develop the graphics, the appearance with Chris Rehberger. He had already once appointed a 20-year-old Rehberger as lecturer at the Städel School, where Chris would have had to reinvent natural authority in front of his older students. That was before 1995. I still remember, however, very accurately, regardless of the year, Rehberger’s genius at finding a graphic translation of König’s beer coaster-idea. After a city tour where the logic of Münster's city development was conveyed to him: cathedral, city walls, city walls polished = Promenade, Castle, lake Aasee, and after what felt like a 15-minute briefing. Perhaps it was only 5 minutes. The story with the beer coaster is told relatively quickly, it seems.
We were given circles. Copied. Stamped. Open. Closed. Readable. Nonreadable. Paper clipped. With and without. Families of circles. Barcodes. Everything copyable, stampable, self-producible. Everything. From stationery to sponsors brochure to press kit, to T-shirt. Brilliant. Infinite possibilities of developing a lot of identities via one idea, a family of identities, a Skulptur. Projekte-Welt. Rehberger was still young then. And in London. Where else? Or was he in Frankfurt? But neither in Frankfurt nor in Münster, nor in London, was there an everyday understanding of the ramifications of all these possibilities presented to us by Chris Rehberger, and how one could have implemented them with just that kind of consistency. In the mid-1990s, corporate identity in the cultural world was, apart from a pink whale – virtually non-existent. A rarity. Apart from myself, there were no other press and public information officers in the German museum landscape, or were there? And, before Münster, neither Chris Rehberger nor I had worked on major international exhibitions of this kind. And when I look at the exhibition catalog, it is clear that we, that I, at some point, yielded. To date, I feel at a loss that I was not able to develop Chris Rehberger’s prospective forms on everything. There was no money, not enough money and there was resistance. With each project rejected by a third party, the responsibility towards the artists grew, and finally we all worked on the realization of the projects and less on and with the possibilities that Rehberger’s CI had presented to us.
Why would you worry today, sixteen years later, about what you could have done differently in 1997? The visual leaders of the last ten years have certainly experienced more than one story of failure. And, with reference to failure, even before any given failure, or partial failure, there is also the experience of the unsuccessful pitch. Somewhere between limbo and coitus interruptus. That's what I once experienced with Rehberger, some years after 1997, again in Münster; he should decide himself if he wants to publish it here. So, what is the reason? One reason is, of course, because I have since realized great projects with Rehberger, such as Venice 2011, Julia Stoschek Collection 2007, Echtwald 2010.
And when I'm not working with him, and suddenly in the street, from a bus window, I see something surprising and consistent in its potentiality of graphic design in public space. Then it hits you, HAU 1, 2 HAU, HAU 3. Then that pink whale reinvented itself, and then the Haus der Kulturen der Welt devised itself differently. In such moments, the memory of this moment of realization that with Rehberger you are able to develop, from a project, possible forms of communication that can be developed only with Rehberger, always concrete, sometimes quite unexpected, but immediately present. Just when he is oblique, using an error, breaking a taboo, when you suddenly have to read something that is not readable, when its illegibility suddenly makes a typography blatantly obvious, when a poster is clearly hand burned, stamped, revised. A t-shirt is attached to the billboard. Just take a look a look at what Chris Rehberger has done. And then, then you wish that you could go to a client with a Chris Rehberger. And then come back with the Rehbergerconcept. Life can be a beer coaster. Visual Leader allright, see, there you go.