On a Balcony : A Cinema
- An exhibition to be presented February 2-April 20, 1997 at the Walker
Art Center will celebrate Belgian artist Mark Luyten's recently
completed two-year project linking the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
and the museum's indoor spaces. Featuring new works as well as many
of the pieces completed during the commission period, the exhibition
will both summarize and expand Luyten's Walker project. The works
will span a range of media including film, video, photography, slide
projection, text, sculptural objects, and drawings. The exhibition is
curated by Walker Assistant Curator of Visual Arts Joan Rothfuss.
"He leaves the room and lost himself in the staircases
The Artist Mark Luyten was born in 1955 in Antwerp, a harbor city in the
northern, Flemish-speaking region of Belgium. He studied art history.
history, and Asian philosophy at the Universities of Leuven and
Leiden, and since 1988 he has taught aesthetics and art theory at the
Sint Lucas School of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Traces of his background
and his various intellectual pursuits can be seen in the body of artwork
he has fashioned over the past decade. Working in media that includes
photography, drawing, video, text, printmaking, and sculpture, he
creates installations and objects that examine issues of
representation, desire and loss, landscape, and verbal expression. His
works often incorporate texts in multiple languages, reflecting both his
interest in how words construct meaning and his experience in a
country with two official languages.
The relationship between language and landscape has been a recurring
theme in Luyten's work of the past decade. He has written that "seeing
is always linked with what has been seen, with descriptions,conventions,
stories, memories, desires, etc. A landscape is always a landscape of
words." He has approached this theme using various media, and often
with a particular site in mind. His works frequently refer to the greenhouse,
an artificial, Ideal landscape, a place in which one is immersed in a garden
that remarks, so to speak, on its own impossibility.
Luyten has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp,
The Power Plant in Toronto, and the Contemporary Art Space in Lausanne,
Switzerland, and he has appeared in group exhibitions in Brussels, Munster,
Metz, The Hague, Ludwigshafen, Maastricht, and other cities. He is currently
working on a commission for the Museum of Modem Art, Dublin.
"With all there is room for in that"
- The Walker Project
In 1993, Luyten was asked by the Walker to produce a body of work that
thematically linked the Sculpture Garden with the Walker's indoor spaces.
Over the next two years he visited the Twin Cities four times annually,
at the beginning of each season, to create a new element for the project.
These appeared in various public locations in the museum and the Garden.
Each new element took the place of the previous one, forming a continuously
evolving constellation of notations, ideas, and objects. The projection
was complete in March 1996, and its components will form the basis for
the exhibition and catalogue.
Luyten began his Walker project with a simple offering meant, in part,
to suggest the
opening of a dialogue between the artist and the Twin Cities community.
He placed a
book-the complete poems of the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970)-in
otherwise empty display case, and installed it in the middle of the museum's
lobby. The poet's evocative description of a landscape quieted and hidden
beneath a covering of snow was physically echoed by Luyten's placement
of it within the large, white "field" of the display case. The
poem's text evokes the themes addressed in his own work, which he has described
as dealing with "human desire and the unattainability of things, as
reflected in man's relationship to nature."
Subsequent installations have taken place in the Minneapolis Sculpture
Garden, where LuyLen organised a four-part outdoor film screening; the
Cowles Conservatory, in which he placed large sheets of glass engraved
with texts on nature in four languages; and various spaces inside the museum
including hallways, stairwells, and offices as well as galleries. Besides
film and sculptural objects, he has included works in video,drawing, and
photography, many of which incorporated prose and poetry by such authors
as Marcel Proust, Claude Levi-Stauss, Paul Celan, and Italo Calvino. Because
he often reuses objects and ideas from previous installations in the cycle,
the viewer' s understanding of the work is gradual and cumulative, comparable
to the process of reading a book or watching a film.
For the project's evocative final installation, Luyten reprised his first
reworking the Ungarettl poem as a slide projection. To this he added two
made in the Italian village in which Ungaretti composed the verse in 1917,
other in Luyten's backyard garden in Antwerp. A third element was a group
of Super-8films shot by Walker staff members in the Sculpture Garden. Finally,
the installation included a spoken text - written by the artist - on the
very specific yet paradoxically generic nature of home.