Open Stores #02

Melvin Moti: Die Art of Orientation
12 November 2011 – 4 March 2012

In the second exhibition in this series, Melvin Moti (*1977, lives and works in Rotterdam) presents works from the painting depot and the magazine of the graphics collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. It is not the (art) historical information and classification systems that are the starting and reference points in his extensive selection, but rather observed relationships between the works. Moti thus combines masterpieces with otherwise rarely or never shown works from the 16th to 20th centuries from the museum depots and one of his own works.

In two complementary rooms, the installation entitled "The Art of Orientation" reflects Moti's observations and associations: in the first room, the expansive presentation focuses on the phenomenon of gravity. In the second room, the gaze circles above all between works with nocturnal, dark or obscure scenarios. Moti is interested in such effective visual forces of attraction and dynamics that emanate from the works across times and genres and make them - beyond a linearly oriented art history - protagonists or extras of other stories.

In a broader sense, Moti's approach refers to the German cultural scientist Aby Warburg (1866-1929) and his ideas of a space of visual and intellectual discovery, which Warburg called "thinking space". Moti's films, photographs, objects and books thus repeatedly revolve around the imagination as part of the psyche and social reality - as a productive counterweight to fictionalisation and virtualisation.

His video "The Black Room" (2005), which Moti integrates into this selection, also insists on such a space for other images and their reality: while the camera explores black surfaces, one hears an interview about writing experiments under self-hypnosis. Slowly, clues are gathered that these are filmed wall paintings of the alleged Vill of Agrippa Postumus (11 BC - 7 AD) in Boscotrecase near Pompeii and a fictitious interview by the surrealist Robert Desnos about his experiences with trance states. At the same time, however, independent ideas develop beyond what is concretely seen and heard. As in Moti's video, the viewer's imagination is the ultimate means of orientation, which also makes it possible to experience works from the collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in a new way in his "Open Depot" presentation.

Text: Alice Koegel