Critics’ Picks

Joachim Koester, The Kant Walk #4, 2003–2004, color photograph, 32 x 27”. From the series “The Kant Walks,” 2003–2004.

Mexico City

Joachim Koester

Museo Tamayo
Paseo de la Reforma No. 51
April 17–August 29, 2010

The Museo Tamayo opened its doors anew in April with a transformed program and identity. The strongest of the inaugural solo exhibitions is a presentation of work by Danish artist Joachim Koester, titled “From the Secret Garden of Sleep,” that assembles pieces made between 2003 and 2009, including a video projection and a 16-mm film installation. Koester juxtaposes established historical narratives with informal countercultural phenomena, seeding his work with references that range from Immanuel Kant and John Dee to Charles Manson and Carlos Castaneda, by way of Charles Baudelaire. By layering historical and esoteric narratives onto one another, he explores how individuals and ideas overwrite landscape and representation.

One of the seven works on display is “The Barker Ranch,” 2008, a series of photographs that depict the hideout of Manson and his “family.” The images explore the relationship between location and memory in terms of America’s history of expansion and rugged individualism, acted out in a landscape saturated with violence. A similar rapport between psychogeography and modes of memorizing history can be seen in “The Kant Walks,” 2003–2004, a series of prints and texts based on Koester’s travels to Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad, Russia) and his attempt to trace the philosopher’s famous perambulations.

History offers us lines and trajectories that come from the past but do not always lead to an undisputed narrative of the present. Accordingly, the historical spaces Koester unfolds are neither linear nor whole. Exploring his landscapes, one encounters contradictory representations of history, seeing these accounts’ affective depictions and delivered practices in a new light.