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Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga presents Muntean/Rosenblum exhibition

Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga presents Muntean/Rosenblum. The Management of Insignificance by the artistic duo comprising Markus Muntean (Austria, 1962) and Adi Rosenblum (Israel, 1962), an exhibition on view to 20 January 2013.

Specially created for the Centre, this installation consists of a 20-metre-long running track that crosses the gallery, surrounded by benches of the type found in gyms and arranged to face the fifteen paintings hung on the walls, some of which have never previously been exhibited. The installation’s aesthetic brings to mind the Simsvideo game. Two exhibition spaces within the Centre will house this event: the Main Hall and Espacio 5 where a video will be projected that will be filmed during a performance taking place during the exhibition’s inauguration.

“Everyone has to be concerned about whether enough interesting things have happened to them recently, no one wants to be caught out living a boring life” in the words of the artistic duo comprising Markus Muntean (Austria, 1962) and Adi Rosenblum (Israel, 1962). Their words offer a statement of intent on how they interpret today’s society in which the lives of teenagers and young adults are dominated by the social networks and in which people’s influence is determined by the quantity and nature of their experiences, reflected through photographs and accounts posted on those networks.

From this starting point, Muntean/Rosenblum aim to transmit the duality that exists within all our lives: on the one hand, the fact of being able to share the widest range of experiences with an unlimited number of other people or followers, and on the other, the ever increasing loneliness of human beings and their lack of empathy with the rest of society: “In other words, excess of aesthetic experiences is linked to the absence of personal meaning, which results in a feeling of satiation and emptiness”, in the artists’ words.

For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: “Muntean/Rosenblum’s work is filled with lost individuals, like islands among the bustle and din of other people. The scenes depicted by this artistic duo could be taking place before our eyes at any time of the day and in any location. Muntean/Rosenblum translate the de-personalisation of the settings in Marc Augé’s sense of that term, referring to the non-place, which is one that is not essential to human beings and which lacks history, for example a hotel room or a motorway. In order to do so they make use of the aesthetic of The Sims, who invert the meaning of the real and the invented and who also lack specific features as they are iconic and generic.”

In addition to the use of the standardised, impersonal location of a gym changing room for the setting of their installation, the paintings provide another element that reveals the degree of social critique in Muntean/Rosenblum’s work. We thus see young people in everyday scenes but ones who convey a message through phrases that reveal the loneliness and the social and identity crisis involved in the transition from teenage to adult life. These phrases, which appear at the bottom of the paintings, have been “collected” by the artists and have a special meaning. They refer to them as “super-fast knowledge” as some of them are extracts from famous works of literature. “Aside from the phenomenon of the explosion of the mass media, what we really have in common, paradoxically, is suffering, which is an intrinsic part of human existence,” Muntean/Rosenblum state. It is this shared emotion that acts as the guiding thread of the exhibition and on which the visitor is encouraged to reflect while contemplating the artists’ work.

In Muntean/Rosenblum’s output figurative painting is influenced by technology and optical devices such as photography and film. The artists take their reference points from images of teenage models in fashion magazines and comics. “In a highly personal way, the work of an artist is an attempt to create something that has meaning […]. Creating art thus becomes a ritual of self-transformation: painting every day and trying to achieve better results is an attempt to encounter a personal meaning in what you do.”

Muntean/Rosenblum do not consider their installation as fully complete yet, as visitors to the exhibition will literally become part of it. In addition, a performance will take place that will be filmed, with students at the Conservatorio Superior de Danza in Malaga performing gestures and movements typical of the Sims characters. This performance will then be projected in the CAC’s Espacio 5. Muntean/Rosenblum make use ofThe Sims game because it refers to generic characters and settings that could that could be part of anyone’s life as they have few individualised features or identifying elements. The aim of the game is to ensure that the characters are always happy, which is only achieved by them earning ever more money, which is then spent on material goods such as furniture, clothes and electronic items. As a result, a relationship is established between happiness and the acquisition of new things, as seen in everyday life in contemporary society.

Working in Vienna and London, Markus Muntean and Adi Rosenblum have been collaborating since 1992. While they primarily focus on painting and drawing they also make use of other media such as photography, video, installation and performance. Over the past decade their work has been exhibited in leading museums, art centres and galleries world-wide, including: De Appel, Amsterdam (2004); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2004); Tate Britain, London (2004); Jack Hanley, San Francisco (2005); Maureen Paley, London (2007); Arndt & Partner, Berlin (2008); Team Gallery, New York (2009), Georg Kargl, Vienna (2010), and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2011).