Herzog & de Meuron
Exhibition
23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003
Curator
Philip Ursprung

Just Waste

In this exhibition, all of our models and experiments with materials have been carefully numbered, labeled, and displayed on tables: we are exhibiting an archive, that is, a physical accumulation of the documents that we have produced in order to initiate and accelerate mental processes or, on the contrary, to arrest and propel them in another direction. They bear mute and lifeless witness to the considerable energy that we as a group, in varying combinations, have invested over the years in order to set such intellectual processes in motion. In some cases buildings have actually emerged as a result.

These archived objects are therefore nothing but waste products. Since the immaterial, mental processes of understanding, learning, and developing always have priority. We have never been interested in producing objects invested with an aura in the nature of an artwork. These objects are not works of art; they are an accumulation of waste. In this respect, but only in this respect, they have something in common with natural history, as explicitly fore grounded by the curators of this exhibition: accumulated archival documents or accumulated bones and fossils – whatever the case, it would all be lifeless waste were if not for the special gaze, the creative, attentive, sometimes even loving gaze of the interested beholder who is able to interpret and interrelate the moulded shapes, grooves, indentations, and discoloration.

In and among all the waste products, the curators have cleverly smuggled a few real works of art, such as a genuine object by Beuys, an original Yves Klein Blue, and a hand-sculpted figure by Giacometti. Are these simply more waste products or does the panoply of archived waste seek to enhance its status by basking in the radiance of a familiar, brand-name aesthetic? Or conversely, are the works of art, as victims of name-recognition, trying for once to escape the tyranny of the White Cube, so that they may be seen and appreciated in the new light cast on them by the unusual context?

Having entrusted the design of our last major exhibition, in 1995 at the Centre Pompidou, to the artist RĂ©my Zaugg, we now take a radically different approach. We have largely committed ourselves to the idea proposed by the project initiator Kurt Forster and the curator Philip Ursprung, who have modelled their exhibition on natural history exhibits. We have opened our archive to the interested viewer like a Wunderkammer and transferred its contents to the space of the gallery. Since architecture itself cannot be exhibited, we are forever compelled to find substitutes for it.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2002

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Team

Facts

Curator
Philip Ursprung

Project Initiator
Kurt W. Forster

CCA Assistant Director, Exhibitions and Publications
Helen Malkin

CCA Assistant Curator
Pierre-Édouard Latouche

CCA Exhibition Coordinator
Kathleen Lancup

Exhibition Graphics
Integral Lars MĂĽller

Links
Canadian Center for Architecture

Bibliography

“Herzog & de Meuron. Natural History.” Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind. Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. 2nd ed. Baden, Lars Müller, 2005.

“Herzog & de Meuron. Naturgeschichte.” Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind. Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. 2nd ed. Baden, Lars Müller, 2005.

“Herzog & de Meuron. Histoire Naturelle.” Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind. Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. Baden, Lars MĂĽller, 2002.