(@mined_oud) – which may or may not be the artist’s email address backwards, creates an absurd type of synaesthesia between an oriental plant (oud or agarwood), the allusion to exhausted mine seams and the apparent creation of a potential palindrome – is the title of the first solo show to be held in an Italian public institution (opening: Friday, October the 13th, 2017, 7pm) by the artist Darren Bader (Bridgeport, CT 1978), one of the most experimental international artists of recent generations.
Bader’s practice is based on the inclusion of different elements — consumer goods, words, images, animals, persons — that generate concrete, imaginary, real and fictional relations. As Luca Lo Pinto explains in the artist book that accompanies the exhibition, “rather than creating, [Bader] edits. Rather than producing, he selects. Rather than representing, he shows“. Bader removes meaning, yet adds new levels of understanding to works, objects and (possible, or often impossible) descriptions and manages to lend an original twist to a practice whose meaning can be sought in the carefully arranged inclusion of all the components of the art system: the work, the artist, the gallery owner, the collector, the exhibition visitor and readers of art texts. In this sense, Bader’s work can be analysed in terms of “information technology“: it separates and rejoins the inner system of the work (its aesthetic component) and the external structure, or “back end”, which runs and conditions it (the art system itself). Exploring a discourse which began with Marcel Duchamp’s seminal ready-mades and continued subsequently, during the 60s and 70s, with the criticisms of art system put forward by the Institutional Critique, Bader argues that the aspects of artistic production underlying those assumptions are now so obvious, thoroughly explored and artistically expressed, even in terms of deconstruction and direct repudiation, that the next step is no longer a question of criticising or keeping in check the art system, but instead acceptance, conscious incorporation and a shared narrative. Bader thus demonstrates that the joint participation of all the different players involved in the system cannot fail to generate, together with the additional inclusion of factors and ideas borrowed from the omnipresent media, an added value of art in the current era of the sharing economy.
At the Madre museum the artist plays with the traditional format of a solo show and turns it into multi-faceted analytical tool of models by which works of art are viewed and mediated within an institutional space-time framework. Right from the very title of the work, with the apposition of the “@” symbol and the use of parentheses, Bader establishes a purely digital level of meaning and experience of the exhibition which, at a physical level, is scattered and integrated within the itinerary of the museum collection, expressing an elliptical perspective, full of ironic short circuits and linguistic games, the theoretical foundations of the collection and the identity of the contemporary art museum.
The exhibition has been produced as part of the project Itinerari del Contemporaneo-Confronti, together with funding from POC (PIANO OPERATIVO COMPLEMENTARE) of the Regione Campania, and implemented by SCABEC Spa, a cultural heritage company based in Campania, which oversees all the organizational aspects.
Darren Bader (Bridgeport, CT, 1978) lives and works in New York. Solo shows of his work held in institutions include: Meaning and Difference, The Power Station, Dallas (2017); Reading Writing Arithmetic, Radio Athènes-Institute for the advancement of contemporary visual culture, Athens (2015); Where Is a Bicycle’s Vagina (and Other Inquiries) or Around the Samovar, 1857, Oslo (2012); Images, MoMA-PS1, New York (2012). Awarded the Calder Prize in 2013, Bader has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions and biennials including the following: 13éme Biennale de Lyon. La vie moderne, Lyon (2015); Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2015); The Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2014); Antigrazioso, Palais de Tokyo, Parigi (2013); Something About a Tree, FLAG Foundation, New York (2013); Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013); Oh, you mean cellophane and all that crap, The Calder Foundation, New York (2012); Greater New York, MoMA-PS1, New York (2010); To Illustrate and Multiply: An Open Book, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008).