Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Razzle Dazzle in Venice

The German Artist Tobias Rehberger has been chosen as this years recipient of the Golden Lion Award for the best artist at the Venice Bienalle for his Cafe created in collaboration with Artek. Rehberger has been considered a 'complete original' since the early 90's represented by Freidrich Petzel Gallery. He actually won the award for best young artist at the Bienalle in 1993 and has shown no signs of slowing down since. His pieces are monumental, collaborative, communicative, ambiguous and come with a great deal of financial backing. Famed for his approach to art production and combining his aesthetic with the practical characteristics of design, his cafeteria at the Biennale illustrates his interest in both the social and historical mutations of artistic practice in contemporary art. 

Rehberger modeled his Cafe after the Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle Style that the Americans and the British used on their ships during World War I to evade the German U boats that had been sinking their ships at a dangerous rate. This form of camouflage that they adapted from the then current cubist style promoted by british naval officer and artist Norman Wilkinson helped the boats to blend into the appearance of the sea and sky which constantly fluctuates. The designs created an optical illusion which made it difficult for the enemy to gage the course and speed of the target effectively making it harder to hit with a torpedo. 

Some of Rehberger's most ambitious projects consist of commissioning knock off Mercedes and Porsche designs produced in Thailand, large sculptures, installations and film projects. For Rehberger's cars he sent only sketches drawn from memory to the factories without any further instructions in which the final output showed some recognizable traits from the original designs and left the rest to be freely interpreted, hence revealing the cars as mere copies. In his piece from 2006 'American Traitor Bitch' Rehberger collaborated with Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo. In an effort to raise questions surrounding authorship Rehberger gave the conceptual work to Danh Vo who used the story of his Father's escape from Vietnam with a boat that he had built after the war to create a basis for the works construction. Rehberger used Danh Vo's recollections of his Father's story and the the boat itself to create a work which embodied various interpretations while staying true to Rehberger's signature style.

 American Traitor Bitch, 2006

The poster below is from a project that examines how the constructions of final products are often hidden titled "On Otto" in which Rehberger literally made a film in reverse. He began with this movie poster below, a title sequence and finished with a screenplay. Rehberger chose to collaborate with individuals working in the movie business as opposed to working with artists in order to better expose each aspect of the full scale film making process. 

Starting point for the project 'On Otto' , 2007

For Rehberger it's all about flipping our perspectives and changing the status quo. His deconstructive approach allows him to delve into the making of things, the standards of visual culture, and break out of the white cube. Essentially, he attempts to show us what's behind the curtain, how refreshing.

Here below are some images of the WWI ships after their Razzle Dazzle camouflage makeovers.