Water spews from the mouths of three blank faces. Without expression nor body, the pure white heads stand guard, looking out in three directions. Rising high into the air, they watch you and they watch the surrounding art works
In the new exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien in Austria, Das Wunder de Lebens (The Miracle of Life), Belgian artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Herald Thys use an all-white color palette to remove hierarchical structures from objects, with the goal of creating an open arena for sight.
Curated with a minimal and orderly aesthetic, the exhibition produces an eery, science-like atmosphere, augmented by the steady trickling of water, in which the viewer contemplates the ‘miracle of life.’ The exhibition title refers to a 1934 exhibition for Nazi propaganda, in which the ideal of deutschen Rassenhygiene (German racial hygiene) was promoted. Alluding to Nazi Eugenics programs, the Gruyter and Thys offer both a commentary on modern society and a warning signal to contemporary viewers.
400 drawings of cars, city views, weather maps, and several other markers of modern life are no longer objective in the staged exhibition context. Stripped of color and displayed with a sense of authority, the encyclopedia of information suddenly becomes an index of political and cultural cues. Examining the drawings of everyday scenes and objects, the viewer finds himself seeking deeper truths within the innocuous images and mapping his own meaning unto various objects. As the viewer moves through the exhibition space, he becomes both scientist and actor, the center of his own arena, in which it is his responsibility to remain neutral and to resist the human impulse to create hierarchies and statuses.
A daring and provocative exhibition, Das Wunder de Lebens is an exercise in visual discipline.
Das Wunder de Lebens is on display until May 4, 2014 and is accompanied by an audio guide as well as an extensive video program by Gruyter and Thys.