Exhibitions

Ils sont fous ces Romains!

Manuel Graf

September 15 - December 2, 2012

Manuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg 2012, Foto / photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin
Manuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg 2012, Foto / photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin Manuel Graf, Neolithic Memory Stick, 2012, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg 2012, Foto / photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin Manue Graf, Ils sont fous ces Romains!, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Fred Dott, KunstvereinManuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg 2012, Foto / photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin Manuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, BerlinManuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, BerlinManuel Graf, Let music play!, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin

The installations of Düsseldorf-based artist Manuel Graf (* 1978) unite architecture, film, music and art history in a tightly woven fabric of references. His works often resemble animated still lifes that are usually void of human beings but which still address questions of central importance to hu-manity. His "Woher kommt die Kunst? Oder: Über die Blüte des Menschen" (2007) looks at the idea of time and the question of how new ideas come into the world – strangely nostalgic ponderings in an age of the constant transfer of ideas, when the original is retreating further and further into the background.

Yet his work often only gives a hint of an answer to these questions, presenting just various theories and utopian approaches. The starting points for his observations come from architectural models that he uses as allegories or visualizations. The clay objects he moulds for his installations are rooted in a folkloric tradition that stands in contradiction to the technologically complex animated images and music that frame them. Instead of providing an explanation, he gives viewers plenty of space for interpretation and reflection.

Graf’s current "Four-Iwan Project" explores the idea that there are three basic types of architectural arrangement. The first type is a longitudinal arrangement along the length of the building, the second is focused around a central point, and the third is decentralised architecture, where the central point is rendered insignificant. The first two types have been relatively widespread since antiquity, particularly in religious buildings, but the third has primarily been characterised by one specific example: the four-iwan mosque. This type of mosque has a largely empty inner courtyard, whose central point is often not discernible and which is surrounded on four sides by a walled structure known as an iwan. The iwan has a large portal, behind which the actual small, domed rooms almost disappear. While in the two other types of architecture, the "inhabitant" is provided with and guided towards a clear focus, decentralised architecture is based on entirely different premises.

Taking the particular architectural form of the four-iwan mosque as his starting point, and using the Imam Mosque in Isfahan as an example, Graf is currently channelling his years of research into this type of construction into a film project. Wolfgang Meisenheimer, an architect and former lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, is a proponent of the concept of Leibesarchitektur, or "architecture of the body", which he does not just incorporate into his buildings, but into his books, too. Ulya Vogt-Göknil is an expert in Islamic architecture and has written incisive works on the subject. Graf plans to interview both of them, each in their own film, and then to make a third film of live footage and animation depicting the architecture of a four-iwan mosque. All three films will examine how architecture is experienced and will explore the relationship between human beings and architecture and how people physically inhabit a structure.

The exhibition is funded by Kunstftiftung NRW