7 September–12 October 2013
To walk, to place oneself in movement, is to pass consecutively from one unstable position (on one leg) to another unstable position (the other leg). It’s a sequence of precarious positions that allows one to reach a stable and dynamic state. Instability triggers the pursuit of stability and necessitates an adaptive search for solutions. Instability leads to creativity. Notions of disequilibrium, balance, repetition and adjustment, characteristic of walking, are the dominant principles in the creative process of Manuel Burgener. From experiments conducted in the studio to installation in the context of an exhibition, Burgener is constantly adjusting and modifying works in relation to new parameters.
For his first solo exhibition at Galerie Catherine Bastide, Manuel Burgener has organized the spacearound a sculpture, which occupies a central position. Composed of two separate glass pillars that take on the dimensions of structural elements of the gallery. One hangs in horizontal balance thanks to counterweights (in this instance, Brussels cobbles borrowed from the vicinity) whilst the other falls
vertically from the ceiling. The delicate steadiness of the piece and its constricting placement forces the visitor who wishes to see the rest of the exhibition to adapt their route through the space and to adopt an irregular trajectory. Like the spirit level and the pendulum, this piece becomes a tool in search of its own equilibrium, a fleeting spatial feature inviting the viewer to reconsider the space and objects that surround them.
Objects found in the immediate environment are assembled together with items of Burgener’s own making. Whether it be found objects (wood, shards of glass, chairs, bottles…) or things he has produced (photograms, porcelains, waxes…) they are treated with the same consideration; respecting their history and letting himself be guided by their unique qualities. Marks and imperfections from the past are left on found objects whilst elements Burgener has fabricated take the form of the production technique itself. He attempts to let things develop naturally, observing and intervening in the process gradually.
The pieces are assembled on-site and with the same methods. Burgener first observes the space he is exhibiting in, giving the environment itself the same amount of attention as his materials. The characteristics of the space are a guide throughout the exhibition’s composition and are of equal importance as the items displayed within.
The time spent manipulating materials, testing their potential associations, studying the incontrollable and appreciating accidents allows Burgener to understand the intrinsic qualities of his materials and modes of assemblage. Thus, he very precisely organizes the fragility apparent in his work.
Burgener develops a recurring formal language; series of pieces can be found from one exhibition to the next. However, on each showing the pieces have subtly evolved. Taking heed from previous experience features are added or removed in order to better adapt to the new environment. Little by little new materials appear, arriving in support of others and their advance. The form and nature of the pieces change. They are not really what they appear to be; a framed photogram on the wall elsewhere becomes a sculpture or even a part of the architecture; to those curious enough to investigate, a sculpture reveals itself to be a drinks bar; bottles of water that are integral to the exhibition can be drunk by those who dare.
Entering into one of Burgener’s exhibitions demands an activation of the viewer, daring the visitor to take risks. This is how we make progress.