Critics’ Picks

Geoffrey Farmer, It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late, 2008, modified rifle cleaner, wooden stool, and various signs, dimensions variable.

Geoffrey Farmer, It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late, 2008, modified rifle cleaner, wooden stool, and various signs, dimensions variable.

Berlin

“I'm Never at Home”

Johnen Galerie
Schöneberger Ufer 65
September 5–October 17, 2008

“I’m Never at Home” is a thoughtful exhibition inspired by the late, enigmatic Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran. Seven artists with very different approaches to artmaking were asked to respond to a paradoxical gesture employed by Cioran: To avoid being disturbed by visitors, he placed several door signs in front of his apartment, one of which stated I’M NEVER AT HOME. The most literal response to the exhibition’s conceit is Mircea Cantor’s outdoor piece, Eyes staring to my absence, 2008: an oak pole propped against a gallery wall (in rural Romania, a sign that no one is at home). This well-curated show highlights Cioran’s poetic nature, based on a meticulous attention to language expressed through a caustic style, direct and deeply emotional. These qualities also stand out in Wilhelm Sasnal’s videos—engaging sound tracks, from electronic to rock, accompany five short films generated by touching childhood memories—and Roman Ondak’s Remote Journey, 2008, ten drawings executed by the artist’s family in accordance with accounts of his frequent travels.

For years in Paris, Cioran lived stateless, a condition reflected in this exhibition by the avoidance of specifics in favor of generic matters of time and fragility, as in Geoffrey Farmer’s It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late, 2008. As instructed by Farmer, each day the gallery staff alters the artwork (modified found objects hung from the ceiling), transforming the sculpture into a living practice. The eleven works are installed alongside basic tables and chairs and an assortment of Cioran’s books in an atmosphere that seems to both welcome and project transience. In this original, free-minded exhibition, no particular theme prevails—no rules and no formal constraints—but rather a clear detachment that derives from precognition, just as Cioran’s practice vividly embodied.