From November 2010, KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin presents the first
comprehensive solo exhibition of Israeli artist Absalon since 1994. Despite his premature death his work has influenced generations of artists until to today. Besides exhibiting his Cellules, the show at KW covers all floors, uniting works from the series Propositions d’habitation (1989’92) and the installation Dispositions (1990) while also showing previously unexhibited models, drawings, paintings and video works.
Absalon was born in 1964 in Ashdod, Israel, and relocated to Paris in 1987 where he would live and work until his premature death in 1993. In only a few years he created an oeuvre of exceptional complexity and consistency, which - although unfinished - never appears fragmentary.
Absalon was fascinated by spaces which he reworked in systematic and successive ways with questions around essential human activities and basic geometric forms (the rectangular, the square, the triangle and the circle) being his points of departure. It was in 1987 that he started to empty out the spaces he found before eventually restructuring and refilling them with the help of simple forms. These test assemblies - further developed later on by means of objects, drawings, photographs and films - came full circle in Absalon‘s Cellules: individualized, ascetic and contemplative living units based on the measurements of the artist’s own body, which are neither purely sculptural nor architectural in the classic sense.
Models and prototypes of the Cellules began to take shape in 1991. Reduced to a vocabulary of strictly geometric forms they were kept in a neutral white and made entirely from wood, cardboard and plaster. Formally these cells recall modernist architectural styles as developed by Le Corbusier, the Bauhaus, de Stijl, and Russian Constructivism, yet without their utopian ideas.
Instead, they open up heterotopic spaces which Absalon intended to position in the public space of six large cities - in Paris, Zurich, New York, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt/Main and Tokyo - in order to confront his physical existence with the ‘corpus’ of society: ‘They are not meant to posit any solutions in terms of isolation but instead for ‘living the social’.’ (Absalon)
His intensive preoccupation with the notion of the form and the use of the object can also be seen in his earlier works, the Propositions d’habitation (1989’92) and in the installation Dispositions (1990). The white clusters of Propositions d’habitation, illuminated by neon light, seem to be architectural studies whereas Dispositions, installed in KW’s attic and covering more than 100 square meters, resembles a thorough cataloguing of his formal vocabulary.
The exhibition at KW is the first comprehensive presentation of Absalon‘s oeuvre to illuminate his concepts and formal aesthetics whilst also making apparent the relationships between his different bodies of works.