French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, best-known for his concept of hyper-reality, died last week at his home in Paris.
“The very definition of the real becomes: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced. The hyper real.” -Jean Baudrillard
Hyper-real installations have evolved into a significant trend in contemporary art. How, exactly did they evolve? Art history has never been simple – one can select from many histories when tracing the origins of a particular artistic movement or phenomenon.
With the recent rise of the â€œmockâ€ documentary and the immersive hyper-real installation, it’s easy for the viewer to become confused as to where the line between real and unreal is drawn.
The history of this particular trend in art may be traced from the origins of performance art in America â€“ the collaborations between John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg:
and also Claes Oldenburgâ€™s Store from 1961 and Allan Kaprowâ€™s Happenings of the late 1950s, through Land Art, the work of Christo and others.
Recreations in paper by German photographer Thomas Demand may also be part of the development of the hyper-real installation, as are critical works by Jean Baudrillard, Daniel J. Boorstin, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and others.
Internationally, artists like Ilya Kabakov:
Gregor Schneider and Christoph Buchel have been practicing the art of installing otherworldly environments within the museum or commercial gallery space. French artist Sophie Calle brought her art into society when she began following unsuspecting citizens in the late 1970s and recording imagined situations involving their lives and hers.
More recently, Mike Nelson, shortlisted for the UKâ€™s Turner Prize in 2001, continues his practice of meticulous, hyper-real installations made from found objectsâ€¦
In 2002, Atom Egoyan created Steenbeckett, a labyrinthine installation for Artangel, installed Londonâ€™s former Museum of Mankind.
The piece was about Samuel Beckettâ€™s Krappâ€™s Last Tape and led the viewer through the dark technicianâ€™s rooms of the museum, around canisters of film, ledgers, indexes and other remnants from the days of analogue processes.
The excellent – and highly recommended – Spanish mockumentary film Noviembre (2003) follows a troop of street theatre artists whose work reenacts everyday situations, to stunningly detrimental effect.
Examples of hyper-reality in the work of Canadians include Janet Cardiff and George Bures Millerâ€™s stunning 2005 installation The Secret Hotel at Kunsthaus Bregenz, which led the viewer above the ceiling of the gallery, giving a view into implausibly small, deep rooms below.
Recently in Toronto, Iris Hausslerâ€™s installation The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach – see blog posting below, or search VoCA – was a hyper-real installation entirely outside of the gallery system, taking place, as it did, in a house in a downtown neighbourhood.
Missing Victor Pellerin is a film by Sophie Deraspe (see blog posting below) about those in the Montreal and Toronto art scenes as they reflect on the legacy of a hot young Montreal artist who had subsequently mysteriously disappeared. Was he real or not? Check it out HERE.
Finally, an interesting video work, Put Your Eye in Your Mouth, by Zin Taylor is on view until April 21 at YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Toronto. The 22-minute documentary-style artwork explores the personalities surrounding Martin Kippenbergerâ€™s Metro-Net subway entrance sculpture in Dawson City, Yukon.
Kippenberger imagined an underground metro system linked by subway entrances in various corners of the world. There was one in Syros, Greece, another in Munster, Germany and others, including the one in Dawson City, Yukon. Check THIS out.
According to YYZ’s press release, â€œTaylorâ€™s elaborate project introduces audiences to a scenario that addresses the variables involved in constructing an identity for a subject.â€
Taylorâ€™s work is also on view at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects until April 7th.