Gallerynote 1/2002

January 24 to March 16, 2002

Manfred Pernice, born 1963, created an important work in Switzerland in 1999. ‘Europa’ formed a conspicuous artistic focal point of the exhibition ‘Two Doors – True Value’, a joint undertaking of the Mai 36 and Annemarie Verna galleries. This was followed by a subsequent overview of works at the Kunsthalle Zurich (August to October 2000).

Now Manfred Pernice has realized two new exhibition projects for Zurich: ‘Casino’ at the Mai 36 Galerie offers a multitude of works, while ‘Jeep’ stages a thematically integrated installation at the Annemarie Verna Gallery.
In the mid-1990s, the art world began taking note of Manfred Pernice. His work, exhibiting quite unwieldy aspects, is considered one of the most impressive discoveries of the current scene. ‘Haupt- bzw. Zentraldose’, the towering chipboard structure at the first Berlin Biennale in 1998, secured an international reputation for the artist.

His contribution to last year’s Biennale in Venice eluded the inattentive host of visitors. Positioning and materials resulted in a calculated inconspicuousness. A certain incidental character is repeatedly applied in his extremely deliberate installations. It is the care devoted to the work that engages the viewer in an active reception and brings the broad volume of associations into play. Works and work complexes are exposed and arranged not simply as the focus of an exhibition situation. The strict separation of viewer and work is relinquished in favor of multi-directional reciprocal availment.

In building his sculptures, Manfred Pernice makes use of simple everyday materials – pressboard, wood lath etc. The ‘skeleton construction’ is suggestive of the systems found in model building kits. It allows the creation of round forms and arches and enables diverse expressions of volume. The form and the exterior view are granted clear priority. This in spite of the fact that the cans, containers and huts clearly have interiors, often able to be seen from the outside or entered. Opportunities for user interface are primarily found on the exterior surface, where photos, tests, projection screens or video monitors are often affixed or flush-mounted. These involve commentaries and references that cannot be subdivided out from the overall situation, but appear to form a solipsistic circle.

The constructions of Manfred Pernice come across as provisional and unfinished, even though exact planning of individual aspects and a sustained executionary discipline are evident. Yet a continual overstraining by the author and maker is at play. The development of the work instigates a reflection that causes a planned whole to go out of view.
In addition, the pieces are transformed by the disassembly and rebuilding at different exhibition locations. In this process, the title of the work has the task of maintaining intention and identity. Paired concepts characterize the approaches to the pieces: exterior view/interior view, open/closed, periphery/center. The problematic relationship of interior perspective and exterior perspective, of subjectivity and objectivity is transmitted through the work.

Manfred Pernice is jointly represented by the Mai 36 and Annemarie Verna galleries.


Richard Tuttle, in Parts, 1998 – 2001
December 8 to February 10, 2002. Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Catalogue with texts by Charles Bernstein and Ingrid Schaffner.