Graham and Gaillard

Posted on September 18, 2011

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I guess now it’s time to talk about that thing that’s been sitting outside my window, right on top of a neighbouring building: a work by the French artist Cyprien Gaillard. The building it’s sitting on is exaclty like one of his drawings, a ruin of a modernist building (Haus der Statistik), very beautiful actually. The thing itself is a neon logo of a stylised Indian – and as I understand the idea of the work is that the Indian is totally out of place here, even if the neon sign itself isn’t. A displaced icon, which in itself is already displaced since it is used by the Cleveland Indians baseball team, and why would they have an Indian for their logo? It’s one of those relics from a time when it was perfectly normal to have a a caricature of a native American represent you visually.

I like the thing visually, bit I don’t like that it’s a bit too far fetched in terms of its background. This may be a fascination of Gaillard, he uses the Indian more frequently, but what does it have to do with these Berlin surroundings or this building?

Few days ago I ran into this other work which carries an unmistakable signature of the artist, a Dan Graham – sadly deprived from its water in the surrounding pond, and slightly dishonoured by empty beer bottles, but still unmistakable.

It’s a little island you can go on, and be mirrored and scaled in terms of the surroundings. Again I like it,  as a professional it’s like running into a familiar person at an unexpected place, but in a sense it’s also Dan Graham leaving his territorial mark – a work from a time when the name of the artist worked as a brand. I guess that’s what bothers me about Cyprien Gaillard, it’s his logo he’s putting there on the roof, in bright colors.

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