Detail is all

Vito Acconci
Francis Alÿs
Samson Kambalu
Jiří Kovanda
Klara Lidén
Ahmet Öğüt
Roman Ondák
Neša Paripović
Pilvi Takala

A car park full of cars.
A young man enters the scene, goes over to a white car. He rapidly covers it with stripes and lettering before placing imitation lighting equipment made of cardboard on the roof. The young man disappears as quickly as he appeared, leaving a police car behind him.                                            

Ahmet Öğüt: Somebody Else’s Car, 2005


The city of Istanbul is heaving, with people and cars all around. Wherever you look you see movement. Congested squares lead to bustling markets, residential buildings and cafes. Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt picks out a scene from this abundance of locations and realities – and instantly zooms in on it as if with a magnifying glass, gets it in focus. The setting is completely unremarkable, totally commonplace, yet it consists of a very specific set-up. The chosen spot – part of a car park – is now supplemented by the time factor. The artist selects a moment when he is alone. Only then does the deed take place: he acts secretly, swiftly, efficiently. The decision for the detail. One situation. One person. One action.

A concrete situation often forms the starting point for an action, the basis from which something develops. It is the given circumstance which people have to put up with, the motor that drives them forward to act in order to change their position. Detail Is All is devoted to the situation, to the moment and the acts that are carried out therein. It is the initial position that underpins Ahmet Öğüt’s action: transforming a car into a police car. The change of a detail is echoed by the car’s appearance, function and meaning; it re-tells a narrative and influences the course of events.

In a world where stimuli are perpetually expanding, multiplying, picking up speed, detail is something we yearn for. Only by acknowledging a particular element or aspect can we imbue it with its due importance, only then can we explore it directly and momentarily lessen the complexity of our own existence. Reducing the flow of information and concentrating on a single action leads to coherent situations. There are no distractions, no superfluous embellishments. All actions are performed clearly and decisively.

But the acts are connected in other ways, too. They happen unexpectedly. They disturb order. They trigger a shift in the initial situation. Small actions lead to big changes: precise, anarchic acts that artists perpetrate in their own habitats. Cities and public spaces are the settings that they re-conquer. Although their behaviour contravenes social norms, their actions are secret, quick, subtle – yet at the same time so fundamental in terms of significance and contexts that they suffice to rewrite history.

Detail Is All brings together a number of artistic works from recent decades, contrasting the shift in favour of detail, and hence concentration, with the exponential multiplicity of offers, opportunities, chances, developments and distractions that characterises our age. ONE situation: ONE action by ONE person in ONE setting – this is the structure of the works on show. They combine humour with seriousness, rebellion with peacefulness, anarchy with order, control with surprise, planning and coincidence. Kunsthalle Mainz is transforming itself into a space for subversion, anarchy, trickery.

The Exhibition is supported by the Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz.

Curated by Stefanie Böttcher.