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Indepth Arts News:

"Anschool by Thomas Hirschhorn"
2005-04-26 until 2005-09-11
Bonnefanten Museum
Maastricht, , NL Netherlands

The Bonnefantenmuseum proudly presents ANSCHOOL, a large-scale exhibition by Switzerland’s most talked about artist Thomas Hirschhorn (1957 Bern). Never before have so many works (15) from the period 1992-2004 been brought together in a setting specially conceived for the Bonnefantenmuseum. ANSCHOOL is no run-of-the-mill retrospective. ANSCHOOL’s targets are the terrorisation of chronology and the hidden power structures behind the transfer of knowledge. The politically engaged and very driven Hirschhorn has invented the term ANSCHOOL to categorise his ongoing battle against our society dominated by money and power. Hirschhorn’s ideal is a fusion of form, politics and social engagement.

ANSCHOOL rejects analysis, training and the creation of a ‘school’. On the other hand, ANSCHOOL stands for courage, curiosity and perseverance. One complete wing (1000m”) is transformed into a school divided into lots of classrooms with the usual interior: chairs, benches, desks, globes, maps, and TV and slide screens. This ‘hardware’ forms the setting for the existing works, which include many early composite collages of cardboard, tape, paper and cuttings from the early nineties that are clearly inspired by the Russian revolutionary avant-garde such as Rodchenko, Malevich en Popova. Also on display is Hotel Democracy, an enormous two-storey-high doll’s house (15m long) which was previously shown in the Tate, London.

The exhibition is rounded off by the so-called ‘pedagogic’ material: printed matter, press releases, Hirschhorn’s own texts and other documentation and videos related to preparations for previous exhibitions. Everything is displayed mixed up together - ‘kopflos’ in the artist’s own words - purely according to Hirschhorn’s internal logic.

In ANSCHOOL, Hirschhorn develops several of his regular statements, including ‘I don’t make political art, I make art political’ and ‘Energy Yes, Quality No!’

At the opening of the controversial exhibition Swiss Swiss Democracy in Centre Culturel du Suisse in Paris, he said: ‘An artist needs to be able to make a wild gesture, be courageous. Art provides resistance. Art is neither active nor passive, art attacks - through my artistic work I will grapple with reality in all its complexity, massiveness and incomprehensibility (…) I will be brave, I will not be lulled into sleep, I will work on and be happy’.

Thomas Hirschhorn made his name during the nineties with enormous, labour-intensive, room-size collages made from cheap disposable material. He combines aluminium foil, cardboard, multiplex, plastic, tape and other packing materials with texts written by himself and others, pictures from newspapers and magazines, home-made aeroplanes, watches, gold bars, streamers and moving toy trains. With showcases, window displays, kiosks, altars and ‘monuments’ in public spaces, he comments on a society dominated by money and power and he searches for an opening to positive engagement with social reality. Hirschhorn’s ideal is a fusion of form, politics and social engagement.

Hirschhorn’s contribution to the Venice Biennial (‘World Airport’ 1999) was much talked-about, as was his ‘Bataille Monument’ of 2002 during Documenta in Kassel, where for months he ran the adjoining monument, café, radio station and library, together with the local residents of a deprived immigrant neighbourhood. He has been awarded several prices including the prestigious Prix Marcel Duchamp (2000).

Hirschhorn is controversial in his own country. Last year, he made a public announcement that he would no longer exhibit in Switzerland because of radical right-wing tendencies in the government. Recently, an exhibition in the Centre Culturel du Suisse in Paris (Swiss Swiss Democracy) caused a political row in his own country.

Thomas Hirschhorn - Anschool
Exhibition Installation

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