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Remai Modern is very pleased to announce its fourth web commission, by internationally acclaimed artist Thomas Hirschhorn. The September 1-30 project is curated by Gregory Burke, Executive Director & CEO, and Sandra Guimarães, Director of Programs & Chief Curator at Remai Modern.
In association with its pre-launch program, Remai Modern has been inviting artists to realize original projects exclusively for online viewing. On the first day of every month, work by a new artist appears on Remai Modern’s homepage. Past commissions are now accessible in the online archive. These include diverse works by British artist Ryan Gander, Saskatoon artist Tammi Campbell, and noted contemporary artist Tanya Lukin Linklater, originally from Indigenous villages in Alaska and now based in Ontario.
Through these commissions, the museum considers its website as an extension of its physical space and onsite program. Mobile and experimental, this online gallery allows for direct, personal encounters with art while connecting with artists and audiences across the globe.
“We are delighted to present SELF-PIXEL, an artwork by Thomas Hirschhorn, as Remai Modern’s latest web commission,” said Gregory Burke. “This multi-layered work is the latest in his series engaging with the problems and implications of pixelation in media images.”
Said Sandra Guimarães, “Thomas Hirschhorn is one of the most singular and formally engaged artists of our time. We are particularly pleased to have this challenging new web commission, and very happy to bring the artist, for the first time, to Saskatoon, as part of Remai Modern pre-launch programs. He will deliver a lecture about his most recent works and engagement with the problematic of pixelation.”
The Thomas Hirschhorn lecture is free and open to the public. It will be at the Frances Morrison Central Library on Tuesday, September 27, at 6:30 p.m. A reception will follow.
SELF-PIXEL is the latest work in PIXEL-COLLAGE, Thomas Hirschhorn’s ongoing series dealing with the problematic of pixelation. The series raises questions related to the political power of images, drawing attention to censorship. Hirschhorn also poses questions relating to abstraction, and how it can be understood today. In his view, pixelation is neither a technique nor a system, but a decision.
Hirschhorn’s concerns are associated with ethical and political matters considered by many generations of artists.
As Hirschhorn explains in his artist’s statement, “Putting or removing each pixel—or even cutting it into smaller pixel parts—is a decision. It’s a political decision. I believe that pixelation or blurring, masking and furthermore censorship or self-censorship, is a growing and insidious problematic, including with the new social media.
“Obviously, I don’t accept what has been pixelated in my place ‘to protect me,’ and obviously I don’t pixelate what is usually concealed and meant to be removed, to frustrate, censor or hide.”
About Thomas Hirschhorn:
Thomas Hirschhorn (b. 1957) is a Swiss artist based in Paris. Whether working in museums, galleries and alternative spaces, or with specific works in public spaces, he asserts his commitment to a non-exclusive public. His work has been presented at major institutions and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale; documenta11 in Kassel, Germany; São Paulo Biennale; 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Shanghai Biennale; Manifesta 10, Saint Petersburg, Russia; Atopolis Mons, Belgium; and South London Gallery. Among numerous awards and prizes, Hirschhorn has received Preis für Junge Schweizer Kunst (1999), Marcel Duchamp Prize (2000), Roland Prize for Public Art (2003), Joseph Beuys Prize (2004), and Kurt Schwitters Prize (2011).
“Self-pixel” comes from “Pixel-Collage”, my most recent works and engagement with the problematic of pixilation. My statement is that pixelation is not a technique, not a system but a decision. Putting or removing each pixel - or even cutting it into smaller pixel parts - is a decision. It’s a political decision. I believe that ‘pixelation’ or blurring, masking and furthermore censorship or self-censorship, is a growing and insidious problematic, also in regard the new social medias. Obviously I don’t accept what has been pixelated in my place ‘to protect me’ and obviously don’t pixelate what is usually concealed and meant to be removed, to frustrate, censor or make non-visible.
Therefore in the new "Pixel-Collage", I want to show pixelation or blurring in its abstract aesthetic and question: How can abstraction be understood today? How can abstraction, through pixelation, engage me in today’s world, time and reality? How can I redefine my idea of abstraction today? I want to integrate the growing phenomena of facelessness in pictures today. What interests me specifically about this aesthetic of facelessness, is its formal embodiment through pixelation. More and more common in the media, the “Pixelation” phenomenon shows us that, in order to be authentic, a picture needs to be pixelated or partly pixelated. Pixelating has taken over the role of authenticity. A pixelated picture is surely authentic if it has unacceptable areas which are concealed while the acceptable is not pixelated. It is interesting to observe that the use of pixels follows no common law at all. Partly pixelated pictures look even more authentic and are accepted as such by viewers. It therefore seems clear that pixels stand for authentication: Authentication through authority. And, in our chaotic, incommensurable, contradictory and complex world there is a huge demand for authority. Pixels deliver an aesthetic to this demand for authority, for protection and for de-responsabilization.
I understand abstraction as thinking, as political thinking. Pixels in their abstraction build up a new form, opening towards a dynamic and desire of truth, truth as such, truth as something reaching beyond information, non-information or counter-information. The point is to understand how an existing published picture can become an abstraction. It seems to me that - paradoxically - the authoritarian will to use pixelation in order to hide, to ‘protect’, not show, or not make something visible has, instead, become an invitation or possibility to touch truth. Truth through pixels, through their abstraction and the aesthetic of their abstraction. To touch truth does not mean verifying information, to touch truth is an act of emancipation.
The political thinking and form of my “Pixel-Collage” is the belief in abstraction, and the belief in the aesthetic of pixelation. This means giving a response - through Form - to the question “How can abstraction be understood today?” With my works “Pixel-Collage” and “New Pixel-Collage”, “Pixel-Video” and “Self-Pixel” I want to give Form, and in giving Form I must show what I see, what I understand, what comes from myself without explanation or argumentation. Nothing is un-showable. What cannot be shown is what has no form. Everything that is ‘form’ is showable and viewable - even when incommensurable. Everything that has a form in this incommensurable world must remain incommensurable, without attempt of becoming commensurable from not being shown or keeping our eyes shut. In order to confront the world, to struggle with its chaos, its incommensurability, in order to coexist and cooperate in this world and with the other, I need to confront reality without distance. Today, more than ever, I need to see everything with my own eyes in our one world, and no one can tell me what my eyes should see, or not.
“Self-Pixel” means acting with your own eyes.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, summer 2016
Remai Modern gratefully acknowledges funding from the City of Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Canada Council for the Arts and SaskCulture. The James Hotel is our official hotel partner.
Report courtesy Remai Modern.