Double Check. Michael Ashers Installation Münster (Caravan) '77 '87 '97 '07
Michael Asher (1943–2012) participated in all four editions of Skulptur Projekte between 1977 and 2007. Each invitation to Münster led to the artist engaging intensively with the city, the exhibition and also his own work – a “double check” at ten-year intervals, as Asher called it. The 2017 presentation from the Skulptur Projekte Archiv is placing on display historical documents, together with current material and an artistic interaction with Asher’s contributions by photographer Alexander Rischer (*1968).
Asher was first invited to participatein the project area of the Skulptur Ausstellung in Münster 1977. He initially presented various proposals, such as planting trees or excavating a tunnel, before deciding to install a caravan, the Hymer – Eriba Familia model, stationing it at locations in and around Münster that changed weekly. Colourful tear-off stubs available in the museum foyer and the catalogue entry provided information on the individual parking locations.
Skulptur Projekte was staged for a second time in 1987. Having once again been invited, Asher also once again submitted several proposals during the run-up to the exhibition. He was, nevertheless, equally fascinated by the prospect of re-implementing the caravan work. The precondition for such an undertaking was that an identical model of caravan to the 1977 one, could be rented. In addition, if Asher found that a site had changed too extensively in comparison to 1977, he would then station the caravan in a garage for that week.
As from 1997, the caravan installation began to develop wideranging critical potential. In repeating his work, Asher undermined the mechanisms of the art market system demanding inexhaustible creativity and innovation. In the archival documents, the difficulties and administrative burden involved in re-implementing the work becomes increasingly apparent, since the caravan had in the meantime become a vintage model.
The fourth edition of Skulptur Projekte took place during a period of generational change, with the curatorial team now consisting of Kasper König and two younger curators, Brigitte Franzen and Carina Plath. Once it had become clear that a fourth iteration of the caravan project was to be realized, the documentation from the previous editions served as the basis for preparations. This time the caravan was even more seldom present in public space, whilst the photographic documentation occupied a larger part of the exhibition catalogue. Aboveall, the juxtapositions illustrated changes to the individual locations over a period of three decades.
The photographer Alexander Rischer approached the caravan’s respective locations with an interrogative gaze for his 2016 series Münster. 19 Orte. The result has been a series of 19 photographs, which not only focuses on the changes and specifics of the urban sites, but also reconsiders the caravan project from a personal perspective.
The Skulptur Projekte Archiv is part of the museum collection and has been growing since 1977. The archive provides a unique opportunity of understanding the developments, shifts and re-evaluations of sculpture in public space through the documentation of projects that were executed, as well as those that remained unrealized, and also affords insights into the different stages of development.
The Volkswagen Foundation has been supporting the research project The Skulptur Projekte Archiv Münster. A Research Institution for Academics and the Public since the spring of 2017, enabling on-going studies of the archive. The basis of the project is a three-year collaboration between the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and the Department of Art History at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.
Dr. Marianne Wagner, Leiterin Skulptur Projekte Archiv
Dr. Katharina Neuburger, Archivarin Skulptur Projekte Archiv
Julius Lehmann, M.A., Wissenschaftlicher Volontär, Skulptur Projekte Archiv
Cover: Alexander Rischer, Woche 4 (Alter Steinweg), 2016 © Alexander Rischer