Zirkus Grau (Préparations Pour Un Miracle)

Niklaus Rüegg

12.06. – 04.07.10

Zirkus Grau, a long-term project by the Zürich-based artist Niklaus Rüegg, takes the idea of a “circus” as its basic point of reference. The circus provides an open format and context for the construction of situations where anything can potentially happen. The various “circus acts” to be staged as part of this project will highlight the ways in which performance can transform social entertainment into a public spectacle that disturbs and disrupts our habitual way of perceiving, thinking and acting through critical distanciation (Verfremdungseffekt).

Compared to the media-saturated world of today, the spectacle of the circus, which once represented a collective vision of unrestrained entertainment, seems as outdated as a black and white television. However, the format of the circus is making a return thanks to new and updated forms, including contemporary media, and we are finding miraculous events embedding themselves within our collective memory. The circus becomes symbolic of utopian fantasy and of the desire to achieve childlike states of freedom without any responsibility. In this sense, the circus represents the idea of perfect nostalgia, or concrete utopia. Here the notion of concrete utopia has been borrowed from the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) in his publication Geist der Utopie (Spirit of Utopia), and can be characterized by an active, militant optimism for the realization of a really possible utopia.

The exhibition Zirkus Grau (Préparations pour un miracle), Rüegg’s first solo-presentation in the Czech Republic, acts as a way of experiencing the possibilities of art within the system of meaning based on the iconography of a public event or a series of consecutive events. Beyond mere representation, the exhibition format attempts to provide a hospitable (yet sufficiently critical) framework that invites local communities of Prague (children and students in particular) to actively participate in the game of exchange.

Text by Marko Stamenkovic