"spiritual ground" starts a new exhibition format launched by the curatorial duo Nadia Ismail M.A. und Dr. Astrid Legge. Tailored to the premises of the former Benedictine abbey, the two art historians have developed an innovative exhibition concept, with the professional focus on „Contemporary Art“, which in the coming years will present current positions of fine arts and will help to experience the abbey as a historical and contemporary cultural meeting point. Starting in April 2012, young female and male artists will be invited alternately to turn the Column Hall several times a year into an exiting presentation venue for contemporary art. In this context, the eventful history, the political misuse and the heterogeneous use of the Abbey over the centuries represents a special challenge for the artistic contributions.
The series starts with solo exhibitions of two young artists who produce atmospherically charged spatial arrangements with a surprising variety of forms of expressions and a specific reference to the location while contemporarily leaving »Space«, to reflect the special relationship of location, history and art. »spiritual ground« opens in April this year with an exhibition of the Paris-based artist Baptiste Debombourg, specially designed for the place. In the second half of the year, the Brussels- and New York-based artist Harold Ancart will present his work for the first time in the Rhineland.
The French artist Baptiste Debombourg was born in 1978 in southern France, studied sculpture at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and post-graduated at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In his home country, he is one of the most outstanding young artists of his generation with numerous public presentations at home and abroad. Germany has yet to discover him and his technically brilliant works with their provocative contents.
With his sculptures Debombourg thematizes the throwaway society and the bequests of consumerism. Here, his references draw an art-historical arch from theoretical texts of modern architecture, like Adolf Loos’ epoch-setting article “Ornament and Crime” from 1908, to current socio-critical positions of contemporary artists such as Raymond Hains, Maurizio Cattelan or Thomas Schütte. His works are the result of poetic transformations. They tell of the deconstruction of the depleted and its new interpretation on a different level. From „Objets trouvés“ the artist creates reshaped sculptures which are in a state of transition, negate any aesthetic of use and reduce the originally intended purpose to absurdity. The new construction of the material in sculptures and objects points with some shock and plenty of irony to the transience of the material and the metamorphosis of everyday life. The term „readymade“, hollowed-out since the 1960s, is cleverly circumvented and the reuse of the discarded, rejected is driven to the top by Debombourg.
His criticism is not so much directed against consumption in general, as against a loss of meaning and value, thus leading towards a universal idea of humanity. Another way of dissecting and recomposing is shown by Debombourg’s distressing weapon drawings that read like technical construction charts of their inner life. On a closer view, in the different types of weapons such as „Walther P38 silencieux“ or Dragunov SVD* (*the sniper rifle in the Bosnian war) one can identify architectural floor plans of a stunning accuracy which – reassembled by the artist – trace back to real floor plans of the Oval Office, the German Wehrmacht headquarters or the Cathedral of Chartres („Tradition of Excellence“). Debombourg takes the „tradition of exellence,“ which implies the effect of these weapons, literally. Here nothing is what it seems to be: the technical internal system on which the shooting and killing process is based, is replaced by the operational center of a command headquarter, where the final decision to initiate the mechanism of the shooting and killing process is taken.