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Anne Bourse: Old People Smoking at Kunsthalle und Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven

January 29–April 23, 2023

Kunsthalle und Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven presents Anne Bourse from January 29 to April 23, 2023.

Every artist creates the space in which they exhibit their work. Anne Bourse, on the other hand, inhabits it in a unique way, since she appears to alter the exhibition space from public to private. Even when it violates privacy, it stays public. This apparent paradox represents a feature of Anne Bourse’s art: ambivalence and the vulnerability that comes with it.

Bourse’s focus is somewhere in these private, or more precisely, social areas where intimacy develops and desire emerges. The glass entrance door to the Kunsthalle is already covered by a curtain, obstructing the typical view inside. What would normally suggest openness and entice visitors to enter the rooms becomes a “barrier.” Alternatively, what happens inside is shielded from view from the outside and protected from prying eyes. The exhibition includes additional pieces that evoke a private place, such as mattresses, lamps, and blankets. Models or parts of models of other spaces are placed next to them, like a room inside a room or an echo of the real room that Bourse made for the Kunsthalle: social areas like nightclubs or hotel halls; places that promise intensity.

Bourse’s works begin with a wide range of pop culture references, such as the cult programs Columbo or The Simpsons, or the iconic old Parisian nightclub Le Palace. These references pervade the whole exhibition and are interwoven in the artist’s very peculiar, artistic cosmos, resembling a lyrical web built out of Bourse’s particular aspirations and obsessions. Her paintings and shows feature pastel colors, painted mirror surfaces, fabrics (typically silk), and repetitive patterns and motifs (stripes in Bremerhaven). The artist’s working process is thorough and repetitious. She creates her pieces by applying paint to the underlying material innumerable times in a reiterative, monotonous, and excruciating process that can take hours or days, as well as by the tedious production of objects with tools and methods she does not master but appropriates by watching DIY videos on YouTube. As a result, her pieces contain a temporal dimension as well as performance and artisanal elements. It’s as though she’s concentrated on describing something very slowly and by herself. A fight for intensity can be heard here as well, namely, the need to go through something, to personally experience something, and in doing so, to periodically abandon oneself—even if it is equivocal, fulfilling and terrible. What she creates here, however, are her imaginations rather than “actual” carpets, “real” lights, “real” mirror walls, or Tiffany windows. Silk mattresses, for example, are completely inappropriate for actual use.

Bourse’s show is best defined as a realm of colors and imaginations based on particular passions and interests. However, it goes beyond this. Referring to social settings that visitors associate with their own experiences but are also culturally charged by movies, books, and the like, the viewers are put back on their personal, albeit culturally and socially conditioned, imaginations and aspirations. The pieces’ repetitions, shifts, and nestlings of colors, patterns, and materials allow one to simply wander through the exhibition.

When Old People Smoke Anne Bourse’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany takes place at the Kunsthalle Bremerhaven. A number of events will accompany it, including a conversation about her approach with Oriane Durand (Kunstverein Bielefeld) and Stefanie Kleefeld (Kunsthalle and Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven).

Curated by Stefanie Kleefeld.

Kunsthalle und Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven
Karlsburg 1/4
27568 Bremerhaven
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11am–6pm,
Saturday–Sunday 11am–5pm

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