www.wilkhahn.de, February 2006

Carsten Gliese – "Model Osthaus"
Exhibition at the Karl-Ernst Osthaus Museum of the City of Hagen until 2 April 2006

The Karl-Ernst Osthaus Prize is one of the awards for contemporary art in Germany with the highest prize money. This award by the City of Hagen is presented to artists for their space-related projects for exhibition in the great hall of the Karl-Ernst Osthaus Museum. The winner of the current award is Carsten Gliese with his project "Model Osthaus" that expands architecture and allows a multi-faceted experience of the same.

"Model Osthaus" – the title of the installation – may at first glance appear quite misleading: the work, now presented to the public, is a tapestry. In line with classically crafted tapestries, it contains a central ornament, a background, a border and subordinate ornaments. The ornaments are however not merely decorative features, but reflect the finely structured, staggered design of the exhibition hall which houses the installation. These ornaments comprise computer processed photographs of individual architectural components. As in other works, Gliese integrates the projection of spatial elements into the two-dimensional plane of the photographs and uses them to compose new contextual settings.

The tapestry is the "Model" as it is an instrument for perception of the room by which it is surrounded. It is positioned in the midst of a series of stairs and balustrades and thus allows viewing from various perspectives, the diversity of which can also be seen in the installation. Gliese's installation expresses the full spectrum of the term "model" as both a new construction and the character of an image. As a spatially designed picture, the floor work, as an even surface, dissolves just that spatial boundary that is limited to the greatest degree architecturally. Gliese's tapestry creates a spatially staggered effect and depth just where usability does not generally allow it, namely on the floor.

On entering the hall, the visitor has a feeling of uncertainty by floating gently on soft ground not typical of a museum. There is no hard and fast division between fine art and art handicraft either here. As in the adjacent historical building, the original Folkwang Museum founded by Osthaus, Gliese's performance merges architecture, art and art handicraft to form a unity. By breaking up the unity of the room again by means of his fragmented perspectives, Gliese reveals his current critical position.

The "Model Osthaus" is also a commentary on the fragmented appearance of the city of Hagen which welcomes visitors on their way to the exhibition with an astronomical number of DIY centres, dealers in fitted carpets and industrially manufactured borders and trimmings. The "Hagen impulse", initiated by patrons, art historians and architecture-loving Osthaus at the beginning of the last century, has remained a fragment, and can only be seen in a few isolated Hagen buildings by van de Velde, Behrens or Riemerschmid. These buildings are scattered around the city, as the fragments of architecture on Gliese's tapestry, and yet they still form a kind of unity.

The theme of the tapestry does however have a much wider cultural reference. Traditional oriental tapestries were originally a reflection of space and represented the cosmological model of the starry heavens. In the case of Carsten Gliese, universal meaning is conveyed by the fabric information medium in quite a topical manner, also in terms of technical implementation: the computer graphics are transposed onto the tapestry as if applied with an inkjet printer.

Before the forthcoming conversion of the Museum, the "Model Osthaus" once again provides a good opportunity of experiencing a new facet of the unusual exhibition concept of the former director of the Museum, Michael Fehr. In contrast to the widespread dogma of museums as being "white cubes", it breaks down the borders between daily culture and art. The process of collecting, compiling, exhibiting and establishing interrelations becomes a central theme itself. Carsten Gliese's collected architectural fragments recall a collection of parts of plants in the natural history stock of the Museum. The "Model Osthaus" is in many respects an exciting reinterpretation of the Karl-Ernst Osthaus Museum as a working model.

Jan Rinke

»Carsten Gliese
»Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum