Irwin | Berlin 2013



January 19, 2013 – February 23, 2013

Galerija Gregor Podnar was proud to host Was ist Kunst Hugo Ball, an exhibition of the Ljubljana-based artist group Irwin. The show featured the latest installment of its ongoing project Was Ist Kunst, which began in April 1985 and has developed over the course of almost three decades into a series of more than one hundred framed paintings.

After initially being seen at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 2010, the work in this exhibition consisted of series of Orthodox icons, which were confronted with framed Dada works by Irwin, in accordance with the invocations of controversial 5th century mystic Dionysius Areopagita. Appropriating the name of one of the leading dada artists, Hugo Ball, by virtue of his interest in mysticism, Irwin recounts a somewhat unknown and surprising tale regarding the origins of the movementʼs name. Dadaism would find its source in orthodox mysticism, as Hugo Ball himself in 1923 is the author of a book about Dionysius Areopagita, entitled ‘Byzantinisches Christentum’,  hose initials produced the mysterious word Dada. In 1921 Ball wrote in his diary: “when I came across the word Dada Dionysius called upon me twice: D.A. – D.A. He was not talking about Bacchus (Dionysus), but Dionysius Areopagita…”.

For this exhibition, Irwin deploys its signature system of thick, heavy frames, which seek to re-contextualize well known Dada works as well as historical orthodox and modern icons, thus encouraging a critical approach on the part of the viewer. In concert with this project, Irwin also plans to translate Hugo Ball’s ‘Byzantinisches Christentum. Drei Heiligenleben’ for the first time in English, making it accessible to a broader audience. Yet another important step for the comprehension of Was Ist Kunst.

A special thanks to Adrian Notz and Elaine Levy for their support.