Book Launch with Matthias Gabi

Event   17. August 2022, 18:00 – 20:00

Clichés Kunsthalle Bern by Matthias Gabi is an artwork in book form, a conceptual work, an archive project, and an experiment. Printing plates – traditionally known as clichés – of artistic reproductions from the Kunsthalle Bern archive, ranging in age from 50 to 100 years old, were brought back to life using letterpressprinting.

The artist selected 82 motifs from the approximately 2,500 clichés that were used to illustrate exhibition catalogues between 1918 and 1975. He used these to compose a unique sequence of images that adheres neither to chronological nor art historical criteria. Instead, the focus is on the individual image, which gains unique presence as the imprint of an obsolete imaging technology and of an appropriated artistic reproduction. The artist employs a practice of bringing fragments from the past into the present and reworking them into a new work of art.

In the process of looking back on antiquated techniques, practices from today’s digital society come to mind. At the same time, a spotlight is cast on the book as a timeless medium for the storage and dissemination of knowledge and culture. In the words of Valérie Knoll, former director of Kunsthalle Bern: “This book is old-fashioned and full of clichés. Old-fashioned not only because its content is composed of past images, but because it lets its technique speak for itself. Instead of asserting an opinion, this old-fashioned author simply displays what is there, thoughtfully and astutely. Without casting a shadow, as if he were not even present, he allows the existing material to shine. As if guided by an invisible hand, the reproduction reveals what the word cliché denotes today. Gabi appreciates the ghosts of the past; why should he submit to them, instead of awakening their inherent power?”

An artist talk with Ann-Kathrin Eickhoff (Artistic Director Halle für Kunst) and Matthias Gabi will take place at 6 pm. Afterwards, the bar will be open and the publication can be purchased on site.

Supported by Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia.

Matthias Gabi, Clichés Kunsthalle Bern, Zurich, Self-publisehd, 2022, Edition of 300, signed and numberd, Hardcover, 184 pages, 30 x 24 cm