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Mucha sculpture installation
Mucha sculpture installation

Reinhard Mucha, ‘Frankfurter Block. Arbeiten am Hohlkasten 1981–2014’, (Frankfurt Block. Working the Box-Girder 1981–2014), 2014, installation view

Reinhard Mucha’s exhibition at Sprüth Magers – his first with the gallery, and his first solo show in Berlin since 1996 – was a time capsule of its own making. Neither time nor exhibition making are simply linear affairs in Mucha’s work. An exhibition within an exhibition, ‘Frankfurter Block. Arbeiten am Hohlkasten 1981–2014’ (Frankfurt Block. Working the Box-Girder 1981–2014), included works whose complexly coded titles give multiple dates indicating when the pieces were first made (without brackets), or reworked (in square brackets), or the original dates are given of existing works incorporated (in round brackets). If this sounds complicated, it is, and it goes some way to suggest the precise calibration – if not pedantry – of Mucha’s working process. In an exhibition of this ambitious scale, the calibration was multiplied to almost manic proportions, as reworkings of reworkings of reworkings plotted out over the last 33 years of the artist’s professional life.

Many works refer to and incorporate materials from Mucha’s own past: childhood photographs, his graduation certificate from the Dusseldorf Academy and a photograph of his teacher, Klaus Rinke, floorboards from his long-term Dusseldorf studio, sleds and blankets referring to Joseph Beuys, and, indeed, an entire exhibition from his youth. This becomes most convoluted in a work whose title says it all: Untitled (Head in Sand – Kunsthalle Bielefeld – Created for the exhibition: ‘Ars Viva – Sculptures and Installations by prizewinners selected by the Cultural Committee of German Business within the Federation of German Industries BDI e.V’ – 1981), [2012], 1982. Phew! Picking apart these dense coordinates, the work reveals itself to have been first exhibited in a travelling show of young German artists in 1982, which itself re-used a work from the Ars Viva show the year before. All of this was then exhibited, with various amendments and additions, in Frankfurt’s Galerie Grässlin in 2012. This totality now became part of Frankfurter Block [2014], 2012, an assemblage in which the entire Frankfurt exhibition was recreated within a one-to-one scale plasterboard replica of Galerie Grässlin.

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