The starting point for Daniel Stubenvoll’s first solo exhibition in an institution, which was entitled Pyramids (January 26 –April 17, 2016, Kunsthalle Darmstadt) was the fence in front of the Kunsthalle Darmstadt. Since the fence could not be removed for official reasons, Stubenvoll painted the lefthand gate bright orange. The Kunsthalle was built in 1957 by architect Theo Pabst—without a fence. His vision was a light-flooded pavilion construction influenced by the Bauhaus, with a glass façade towards the street indicating that the public is welcome. After the integration of the old Rheintor gate in the 1980s, which was used as the entrance from then on, the adjacent fence was also incorporated to protect the sculptures on the forecourt. For the past two years, the Kunsthalle underwent further renovations, which called into question the existence of the fence, not least when the exhibition Pyramids by Daniel Stubenvoll took place at the end of his Charlotte Prinz fellowship.
The Pyramids exhibition continues in the Kunsthalle’s West Gallery. If you look back, you can see the orange gate in the fence through the glass façade. On eleven unframed aluminium panels, 3D renderings of elements of the Kunsthalle fence can be seen in different sizes in grey on a dark blue background. On these, between one and four comic pages have been printed in black and white, drawn by René Rogge. He is the illustrator of the eponymous comic Pyramids. He shows images that conjure up scenes from Ancient Egypt in miniature three-dimensional drawings with tiny details. Rogge’s style of drawing represent the story playfully, easily and clearly, which is as follows: the protagonist of the story, a financier and architect, is buried in a pyramid after it is completed. In revenge, he paints a mural for posterity, which shows the Pharaoh without a phallus (or just a miniature one).
The form of the 3D renderings match those in the comic. The first shows a section of the fence that seems to continue indefinitely in the image. The front page featuring the pyramid, on the other hand, marks the pivotal point of the story. The second rendering is of a fence tip and shows a counter- composition to the first page of the comic, allowing a two- dimensional view of the desert as a comic scene. The only double page is followed by a rendering in landscape format. The first six works in the gallery space all show sections of the fence and conclude with the single orange picture panel containing the comic page with the turning point of the story. Here, the 3D rendering of the fence post serves as a visual translation of the turning point. The last five pictures are exhibited in the otherwise unused passage to the East Gallery. They are all the same size and show the same rendering of the entire left half of the gate.
The pared-down graphics of the fence renderings in grey and dark blue contrast with the humorous comic pictures. With these renderings, Stubenvoll is employing an advertising aes- thetic commonly used by architects or product designers. His presentation style, as well as the content of the comic, can be related to major construction projects. Mutual dependen- cies between clients, financiers, bureaucracy and construction managers can lead to miscalculations, delays, wrong decisions, revenge, compromises and blame. From a psychoanalytical point of view, this all leads back to the phallus. Stubenvoll counteracts phallocentric features in several ways. On one hand, he gives the medium of comics a platform in the art gallery, as an artistic form of expression in the process of emancipating itself from its pop-cultural identity and asserting itself against a supposed advanced culture. On the other hand, contrary to the idea of a solo exhibition, he involves a colleague. Together with René Rogge, he approves his comic. Stubenvoll also performs an intervention on the fence, which reveals the institution’s demarcation from the street and the pavement. In addition, he makes the office corridor accessible, thus also directing the view of closed doors within the Kunsthalle.
Text: Muriel Meyer
Translation: Lucy Jones/Transfiction
Pyramids (Orange-Colored Fence), Steel Fence Door
Pyramids (Title), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (1), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (2), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (3), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (Orange-Colored Image), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (Office Hallway 1), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (Office Hallway 2), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (Office Hallway 3), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (Office Hallway 4), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum
Pyramids (The End), High Glossy Pigmentprint on Aluminum