The Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung in Munich has a selected support on art and science. It was established in December 2000 by Alexander Tutsek and Dr. Eva-Maria Fahrner-Tutsek as a nonprofit foundation. The foundation has an active interdisciplinary program committed to the special, the neglected, and the overlooked in art and science.
In its collecting and exhibition activities, the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung is internationally oriented and focuses on contemporary sculpture and installation using the medium of glass, as well as modern photography. The current exhibition, Primary Gestures, as part the foundation’s series of thematic exhibitions, presents photographs by Robert Rauschenberg from the 1980s and glass installations by Mona Hatoum, Hassan Khan, Jana Sterbak, and Terry Winters. The exhibited works have further been recently acquired by the foundation for its collection.
“Gestures” are movements of the body that serve as communication; they are small acts of mutual understanding and action that convey signs of friendship, respect, and empathy, but also of distance. In the early 1980s, the American artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) traveled to China hoping to send that kind of sign, a gesture of interest in a distant and foreign culture. He saw international exchange as an opportunity to preserve peace in the world. Of the hundreds of color photographs he brought back from that trip, he selected twenty-eight motifs and published them under the title Study for Chinese Summerhall (1983). They read like recordings of gestures from daily life, both modern and traditional, in a transforming Chinese society.
Everyday functional things can be understood as “primary gestures”: a knot, for example, but also a circle, a sphere, a spiral, a bowl, or a marble. Transformed into an artistic object, they obtain a special presence and gain in value and significance. By defamiliarizing their form, changing their material, or placing them in a different context by means of negation or disassembly, such gestures become “charged” and thus communicate beyond the visible and banal, beyond the “primary.” They transport cultural traditions into the present, point to mythological or religious roots; they remember and tell stories. Often a wealth of associations and meanings is hidden under the surface. They trigger mental and emotional images—in attraction and difference. For the artist and for the viewer, the point is, as Hassan Khan expresses it, to read, decipher, and understand these primary gestures.
All of the artists in this exhibition work with such primary gestures. The Palestinian-British artist Mona Hatoum (b. 1952) places thousands of black marbles on top of and next to one another to form a round field (Turbulence, 2014). The Canadian artist Jana Sterbak (b. 1955) hand-blows bowls and stacks them inside one another, creating the impression of a spiral (Hard Entry, 2004). The Egyptian artist Hassan Khan (b. 1975) produces an artful replica of a knot in glass (The Knot, 2012), and the American artist Terry Winters (b. 1949) transforms the idea of a vessel into intuitive, organic forms such as spheres and bubbles (Marseille Templates, 2004–2006).
Primary Gestures is on view at the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung from March 22 to October 18, 2019 with free entry. Here in the foundation’s first Online Exhibition with IC, we share artworks and installation images.