Pick of the week: AA Bronson and General Idea at Esther Schipper, Berlin

27 April 2018

By David Terrien

Catch me if you can! AA Bronson + General Idea, 1968–2018, 2018 (detail of installation view). Photo: Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin

ArtReview’s naive attempt to post AA Bronson’s Flasher (in collaboration with Matthias Hermann) (2018) to Instagram last night was swiftly rejected – not surprising, really, given that its title accurately reflects the content of the photograph, a largescale lightbox-mounted transparency of Bronson standing in a lightly wooded grove and flashing his ageing body in all its glory. But given that Flasher is the culminating work of an exhibition titled Catch me if you can! AA Bronson + General Idea, 1968–2018, in which appearance and disappearance, presence and absence, the living and the dead are presented side by side, it’s fitting that Instagram got in on the act too, displaying and then hiding the only new work here – and one so emblematic of the arc these artists have travelled.

Esther Schipper’s exhibition, which opens today, presents the works of General Idea and Bronson in strictly chronological order, encouraging us to view them as existing along a continuum, in which Bronson, following the 1994 deaths from AIDS-related causes of the group’s other two members, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, carried on developing the themes and preoccupations of the collective. This is evident in a series of self-portraits, the earliest from 1995, which feature Bronson photographing himself in mirrors, an echo of the earliest works by General Idea and their fixation on the real and the reflected, the image and the thing itself. In addition to photographs, including a recently rediscovered cache from the 1960s and 70s, the exhibition comprises prints, paintings, videos, assemblages, installations and sculptures arrayed along the walls of the gallery’s large central space, with larger pieces pushing into the middle of the room. (This display strategy is pursued in the bookshop as well, where catalogues, monographs and copies of Bronson’s FILE Magazine, among many other publications, are presented chronologically across display tables and up onto the walls in a sort of standalone, adjunct installation to Catch me if you can!) The body, concealed, alluded to and ultimately revealed across these works, charts the uncoiling of sexuality, an opening up to and unselfconscious acceptance of corporeal presence, never more clearly than in the exhibition’s final work, Flasher.

Esther Schipper’s isn’t the only presentation of work by AA Bronson in town at the moment, though you will have to be especially fast if you want to catch the other one. It’s titled AA Bronson’s Garten der Lüste, a ‘hybrid installation’ featuring performances and artworks at KW, and it closes this Sunday.

AA Bronson + General Idea, 1968–2018 is on view at Esther Schipper, Berlin, through 26 May; AA Bronson’s Garten der Lüste runs through Sunday 29 April at KW Institute of Contemporary Art

Online exclusive published on 27 April 2018