melbourne

Nikolaus Lang

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Nikolaus Lang is a West German artist who has been working for the last three years in Australia. His works reenact an evident fascination with primitive culture, archeology, and science. Lang’s origins are firmly in the process-minded ’70s; affinities might be drawn with Robert Smithson or, more recently, Anne and Patrick Poirier and Lothar Baumgarten. All these artists assemble the illusion of recovered knowledge; their work hinges on that apparent availability, and the fact of its denial is significant. Legibility and moral education become visual tropes as well as commitments; thus, the ambivalence that some observers have felt toward an art concerned so seriously with imaging the exotic. But while the Poiriers’ work mimics antiquity and simulates ruins, and Baumgarten’s imitates the ethnographic display, Lang focuses on the natural history museum, and his chosen place of research is

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