Evidence of Absence, 2019
On loan to the exhibition The 500 Million Year Collaboration at Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland
Curated by: Valérie Knoll
The title Ryan Gander has chosen for his exhibition asserts an inconceivable temporal dimension. A collaboration over 500 million years? Between man and earth? Is it a look into the past or to the future? Stone upon Stone upon Fallen Stone, Lawrence Weiner wrote on the building of the Kunsthalle in 1983. In view of such dimensions, the rich hundred-year history of the Kunsthalle Bern is infinitesimally nothing.
Ryan Gander rarely shies away from taking up universal themes in his artistic practise. Many of the works shown in The 500 Million Year Collaboration focus on notions of time and the perception of the self. It is the artist’s most comprehensive institutional exhibition to date, in which mainly new or seldom shown works are related to one another. (. . .)
Gander doesn’t make it easy for the viewers who like to reduce artist and artworks to a specific artistic identity. His oeuvre defies being tied down to a single style and his works are often impossible to identify, because Gander pursues not one but a plurality of practises. As an artist, he looks for the particular form and visual language his inventiveness requires. Over the years, this has resulted in a highly complex system in which his works can be shifted into ever new relationships.
What Gander calls 'culturefield' is an imaginary, dreamlike parallel world, a kind of playing field on which exemplary visions can be put to the test and proposed. In the exhibition in Bern, many works revolve around the economy of attention which adapts to constantly changing technologies. Contrary to the complaint frequently voiced today that the Internet and the new media have had the effect of a shortened attention and concentration span, Gander’s works demand quiet contemplation. Being assertions of reality and at times contradictions in terms, his works often lack information. They are characterised by a silence, even when they sometimes speak.