A Seismograph of Everyday Life
The group of artists FORT moves like a seismograph through our contemporary everyday world, tracing current social, political, and economic events and developments. A key part in their artistic practice is played by the assimilation, transformation and staging of different situations that they either find or create for themselves. On occasion their detailed arrangements – which are often produced in connection with performative interventions – resemble stages or experimental set-ups. They start out from these to examine and disclose mechanisms of consumer society and the art market, the conditions of current art production, or the prevailing ideas about a place. It is frequently possible to discern borrowed forms or content from film, literature and music, which are subtly interwoven in the group’s works. In their interventions, performances and installations, on the one hand FORT respond to existing structures and conditions; at the same time, the artists add alien aspects to their found situations and play with our perception and a re-contextualising of the apparently familiar. In the exhibition Leck (2012) the artists transferred the entire interior of a former branch of the drugstore chain Schlecker into the gallery space. By replanting this interior into an unusual setting, they prompt a new way of seeing the typical Schlecker store aesthetics: the focus is on the uncanny aspect of the ravaged shelves and aisles, so examining the underlying economic problems of a German company that faces bankruptcy. For their solo exhibition Morgen letzter Tag (2013) in Kunsthaus Dresden, FORT developed several site-specific works that referred indirectly to the approaching restoration and connected temporary closure of the exhibition space. By means of ingenious, in part minimal interventions they created an atmosphere resembling a construction site in the entrance area, thus confronting the visitors with the irritating question whether these inteventions were part of the exhibition or already the first restoration measures. Their installations in the interior, such as a swimming pool with no water, a juke-box always playing the same song, or a barred window front, helped to create poetic images of farewell, stagnation, withdrawal and transition to something new.
The work One In A Million (2013) especially created for the exhibition in Innsbruck is also based on a conceptual interlock of different spatial situations. Corresponding to the facade of the courtyard building, FORT will embellish the concrete wall extending along the interior and exterior gallery space with five windows. However, they will not form a regular impression but differ in shape and size. They are inspired by the artists’ personal urban surroundings and can be found in different city districts of Berlin as well as in one area of allotment gardens. The windows’ very individual designs point to the unknown people and rooms concealed behind them. At the same time, FORT’s theme is the situation, in which the viewer finds himself: from which he has a view into the unknown. The artists play with the curiosity tinged with voyeurism that everyone knows, surely: when catching a glimpse of lamp-lit rooms from the dark street or walking past opened windows during the day, imagining the lives of people we do not know. The fact that such a brief insight holds so much narrative potential is indicated by the small details at the windows. A pair of socks hung up to dry, faded plastic flowers or a soft toy next to a champagne bottle. What is concealed behind the windows? Who lives there? What activities and events take place? How do the people who live there feel? Inside and outside, insight and outlook, familiar and unknown develop into an interface between the other and the self. Inasmuch as passers-by are not usually permitted to enter other people’s homes, the windows transferred into the exhibition space are merely projection surfaces for our own, wide-ranging associations and interpretations. Robbed of their original function, they make reciprocal insight and outlook impossible. In this way the windows themselves turn into a display, triggering the stranger’s imagination.