Under the title “If I Was a Rich Girl”, Clare Kenny generously invites us into her fantasy collection of works of art, where she has borrowed from both private and public collections such as Fotomuseum Winterthur, Parkett Archive and Fondation Beyeler. As a frame for the works of Imi Knoebel, Heidi Bucher or Helen Chadwick, for example, the English-born artist has transformed the art space into a refined version of itself.
The subjunctive in the title is programmatic and addresses art in its quality of a space of possibilities. Beyond functional and economic laws, the audience is confronted with a proposal of reality that in everyday life rather corresponds to the materiality of a dream or fantasy.
Clare Kenny, master of material rhetoric and skilled in the art of furnishing, however, brings it to the profane level. Interested in the aesthetic form of desire she is questioning, how possibly the dream of an improved home looks like, and which familiar forms we quote in order to assemble a promising future or to represent the step up?
Owning art means claiming it. On the one hand, the works themselves demand a context that makes them works of art in the first place; on the other hand, the owners claim to belong to a culturally elevated social class. But to what extent do these factors underlie the works themselves? Is art only a plaything and a placeholder – a reservoir for desires?
In contrast to the art-historically legitimate value of the borrowed works, Kenny uses materials from the DIY store and uses various techniques such as marbling, wood grain, fresco and staffage to embellish the exhibition space. She creates objects such as carpets, curtains and lamps, which are related to the borrowed works of art and form the “elevated” frame for them or even satirize them.
“If I Was a Rich Girl” negotiates themes of authenticity, the creation of values, and the idea of a better life with a seemingly light hand, echoing questions of difference between the lines. With work from Roger Ackling, Louise Bourgeois, Heidi Bucher, Helen Chadwick, Valie Export, Günther Förg, Imi Knoebel, Wolfgang Tillmans and Josephine Wood.