Galerie Thomas Zander is delighted to present the gallery’s first comprehensive exhibition of works by Swiss artist Dieter Meier. Following the recent acclaimed exhibitions at Sammlung Falckenberg in Hamburg and ZKM Karlsruhe, it shows a rich selection of works from various periods of the conceptual and performance artist. On view are early experimental films and documented performances as well as drawings and photographs from the 1960s to 2011, which represent the great diversity of his œuvre.
Dieter Meier is known to a wider audience from the context of music. With Boris Blank he founded the music project YELLO in the early 1980s, which – along with Kraftwerk – is recognised as a major influence on electronic music today. Dieter Meier also worked as a film and music clip director. Although his work as a visual artist goes back to the late 1960s, it remained little noticed for a long time. In the last few years, it eventually received great recognition.
The themes in Dieter Meier’s works often centre around a particular subject: the staging of failure. The multiple-part works Lost Sculptures and Lost Pieces, both from 1976, show this vividly and reveal the humour of the Swiss artist. For Lost Pieces Dieter Meier made sculptures from icing sugar, which he destroyed soon afterward, leaving only the photographic documentation of the action. In his works, he often subverts the viewers’ expectations and ironise the desperate search for meaning in art – interpretive patterns are led ad absurdum.
Time and again Dieter Meier was inspired to works and performances in public squares, characterised by the interaction with unwittingly involved passers-by. This is also the case in his series Given Names from 1976. These anecdotal photographs depict people in the street who were given names invented by the artist. The names seem to match the pedestrians’ outer appearance and raise questions about physical features and premature judgements. The three-part work Remarkable Men (1972-2012) also focuses on performative aspects of identity. In 1974 Dieter Meier already developed a series of characters under the title Personalities, which he impersonated himself in black and white photographs. He re-photographed the characters in 2005 in photographic colour portraits titled As Time Goes By. A short biographical text complements each pair of portraits and links the artistic genre of portraiture to the literary genre of biographical writing. Short films produced in 2012 constitute the third part of this body of work, which is shown for the first time at Galerie Thomas Zander. The new mock documentary shorts transfer the characters to the presence and sketch their professional and personal development. This work addresses not only the subject of performativity, but also the expectations of the divided image of the artist prevalent in society. Should he maintain the same constant image throughout his career or should he take on constantly changing roles?
For 29 Pictures within 5 minutes, London, 14-Oct-1970, 17:00 – 17:05 in front of Victoria and Albert Museum (1970) he took 29 photographs of a static view of a park bench in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum. With this seemingly futile action Meier demonstrates a radical, yet absurd situationalism. From a current perspective this series of black and white photographs is not only a convincing conceptual work, but like many of his works it can also be read as a contemporary document of social relevance.
The recently published, comprehensive monograph Dieter Meier Works 1968-2011 and the Yello Years including a catalogue raisonné and a DVD is available at Galerie Thomas Zander during the book signing.