I - Selected Perfect Vehicles (11.11.88-20.11.88) / II - Selected Plaster Surrogates (22.11.88-27.11.88) / III - Selected Perpetual Photos (29.11.88-4.12.88) / IV - Selected Perfect Vehicles (6.12.88-11.12.88)

Allan McCollum, born in 1944 in Los Angeles and living in New York, belongs to a generation of American artists who, in the 80s, have been preoccupied in a critical and distanced way with the function of art and its status as the symbol of belonging to a privileged class in a consumer society dictated by economic forces. McCollum was not educated academically in the field of art; it was his employment at an art-haulage firm that shaped his relationship to works of modern art within the fast-moving exhibition business characterised by the market mechanisms of the art trade and the specific American circumstances. The structures of McCollum's works are determined by the critical questioning of these strategies of contemporary art business, in which the work of art is increasingly degenerating to a mere commodity under the pressure of mercantile production conditions.

An important aspect of McCollum's exhibitions is the creation of a hermetic situation, by confronting the viewer with only one group of works whose effect is intensified by the alignment of quasi-identical objects. For this reason, an unusual form of presentation has been chosen for the concept of this exhibition. The groups of works are not shown simultaneously next to each other, but sequentially, each one for itself, in four exhibition parts. This means that the installations of the two variants of Perfect Vehicles, of Surrogates and of Perpetual Photos are shown after each other for a period of one week each.

The exhibition conceived for Portikus comprises four groups, which McCollum has been continuously developing since the end of the 70s:

1) Perfect Vehicles - massively cast vase objects, identical in form, but in different coloured frames. In the suspension of their utility value, they appear in a more general sense as a sign of an art-object stylised in our culture by situational contemplation. First, a new 2-metre-high version in concrete will be exhibited, which was created this year; without being set on plinths, they directly thematise their relation to the space and the viewer.

2) Surrogates - different-sized picture-objects initially made of wood and hardboard, later plaster-cast. They either have different monochrome-coloured frames, or - like the examples shown here - the frame, mount, and picture-surface are simulated using colour. The latter is always monochrome black.

3) Perpetual Photos - photographs of isolated pictures copied out of scenes shot from the TV screen. These degenerated picture-signs refer to the purely decorative and functional meaning of their models and raise them - in a step backwards - to the new picture-object.

4) Perfect Vehicles - the variant made of plaster being worked on since 1986, with an identical height of approx. 50 cm; depending on the conditions of the respective exhibition space, they are installed on plinths as ensembles or sets of varying amounts.

Photos: Katrin Schlling