The work Untitled (in Red) (2016) by Heimo Zobernig deals with the question of display, or, more specifically, how an exhibition display may interact with the works it encloses, presents, enhances. At Art Cologne in 2016, Untitled (in Red) served as a somewhat dysfunctional display for two paintings by Albert Oehlen and Yuji Nagai: consisting of several red neon tubes that bathe the whole room as well as the works by Oehlen and Nagai in red light, it inevitably altered the visual quality of the paintings. Color nuances were erased and could only be perceived as chiaroscuro contrasts. At the same time, both works became readable through the same filter, became comparable on a level other than the motivic (both paintings show vegetative forms, trees). Furthermore, the atmosphere of the white-cube booth that is typically used as an exhibition display at art fairs was radically changed. The viewer was herself immersed in the red light and thus became aware of her own presence and relativity of appearance. The red color also transported another layer of meaning, as it recalled spaces with an ambiance of murkiness, ambivalence—"political red-light zones," as Zobernig puts it, and "Moulin Rouge" interiors. Zobernig worked with this strategy in a number of other shows: at Kunsthalle Wien in 1994, for example, his installation also entered into a dialogue with paintings by Albert Oehlen—a dialogue that would be resumed several times in various contexts. At Kunsthalle Zürich in 2011, which was at the time exhibiting in the Baroque rooms of the Museum Bärengasse, Untitled (in Red) was the title of Zobernig's solo show, in which the notion of color within architecture and exhibition display was even more rigorously highlighted.
December 2017-January 2018, Nr.61