John Armleder


[...] Essentially, what I do in many of my installations is to assemble and juxtapose individual objects which were not originally intended to form a whole. However, once they are brought together, they create a new event, which is independent of its constituent elements.

[...] The appearance (decorative aspect) of my work relates to the precise nature of these objects. By virtue of the nonmaterial surface of the surfs, our visual perception of their identity as moving objects is cancelled. And since the other lights are moving, destabilizing our visual perception, my work naturally took this direction – but this is not to say that I have specialized in this field. This field interests me, because it challenges other fields. It has the pure and radical aspect of abstraction, which I have also practised, but this aspect is challenged by the decorative side, and vice versa. What I enjoy doing whenever I get the chance is referring to works that have defined my career as an artist; in this case, the visual and semantic trap, which is produced by the ambivalent coexistence of formalism with the atmospheric, superficial aspects of this work. There is a contradiction between the formalistic, minimalistic installation and the identity of the installed objects, which refer to the Hawaiian-Californian culture. The nightmare of Carl Andre and Sol Lewitt, at least in their early careers, can be felt. However, I use their arguments to produce something which is opposite. For example, I use the idea of the ephemeral, like the party with disco balls, which lose entirely their practical nature, since they are presented as a formalist sculpture. This coming and going is what interests me.

Q&A between John Armleder and Nicolas Trembley, April 2007


b. 1948, Geneva, Switzerland

Lives and works in Geneva and New York. From 1992 to 2000 he was a member of the Swiss Federal Commission for the Fine Arts, Bern. Since 1994 he is a professor at the Höchschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, Germany and at the École Cantonale d’ Art de Lausanne, Switzerland. His work has been widely exhibited in group and solo shows in prestigious museums and galleries over the world. Recent solo exhibitions include: Overload, Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zürich (2013) • John Armleder: Selected Furniture Sculptures 1979-2012, Swiss Institute, New York (2012) • All of the above, Carte blanche à John M Armleder, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2011) • Away, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2011) • Trivial Abstract, Villa Arson, Nice (2009) • Amor Vacui, horror vacui, Mamco, Geneva (2006) • John Armleder, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (2006) • About Nothing. Works on Paper 1964-2004, Kunsthalle, Zürich (2004) • Peinture Murale, Le Magasin, Grenoble (2001) • Projects 72, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2000).