HAMBURG.- For the first time, Deichtorhallen Hamburg is showcasing the versatile oeuvre of Zurich artist and polymath Dieter Meier in the form of a comprehensive museum show. The exhibition runs through September 11, 2011 at Sammlung Falckenberg (Phoenix-Werke, in Hamburgs Harburg district). In the 1980s, Meier first became known to the broader general public as part of the music duo YELLO, which is now considered one of the most influential electro-Pop acts per se. At the same time, Dieter Meier was active as a film and videoclip director, and his music videos for YELLO emphatically defined the genre and were constantly on show on MTV. Far less well-known is Dieter Meiers oeuvre as a Concept and performance artist, starting as long ago as the late 1960s.
With his radical situationism, as absurd as it was humorous, Meier started to explore new spaces and scope for art, and was repeatedly inspired to stage performance in public spaces relying on direct interaction with passers-by. For a 1970 exhibition in Munich he spent 12 hours walking round the city, marking each minute where he went, stood or rested with stamped clock stickers. In Kunstmuseum Luzern visitors had to clock in and out, attesting to the time they had spent in any empty room. The intention was (...) that they had dedicated one or two minutes of their lives to me, Meier says. At the ICA London Meier screened a film with the instructions that visitors for ten minutes please hold up the large white sheet of paper they had been given at the ticket office in front of their faces. And that was the film, comments Meier. In Munich, in a courtyard he constructed a large wooden cube, chose 30 people from the phonebook and invited them to watch him spending an hour in the cube the action took place, but only one visitor came and watched.
For a photo project, in 1976 Meier shaped figures using icing sugar and molding putty, only to destroy them a little later. That same year, Meier exhibited 48 imaginary biographies in Kunsthaus Zürich. But by then Meier had had enough of the art race and together with Boris Blank founded the YELLO duo. With songs such as The Race or Oh Yeah, YELLO the hit the international charts; many of the duos tunes were used in the 1980s for TV programs and movies. The influence of Dieter Meiers early works is clearly discernible in YELLOs music clips: For example, the molded figures (Meier called them Lost sculptures) resurface in the video for Pinball Cha Cha (1982).
A year ago, Dieter Meier for the first time drew on works from his artistic archive for the En passant exhibition in Galerie Grieder Contemporarys Berlin project room. The items shown, many of which were thought to have been lost, are now being displayed in their entirety in the WORKS 1969 2011 AND THE YELLO YEARS show. Early experimental films, art/conceptual performances as of 1969 and pieces by YELLO are showcased across three storeys.
On show are large-sized prints of his performances, unknown series with Bice Curiger presenting enigmatic objects, an eccentric film by Peter Sempel that uses archive material, unknown audio recordings from Dieter Meiers work before he joined YELLO and trial shoots for videos. Sammlung Falckenberg with all the intersecting lines of visions is offer is an ideal venue to show just how networked these ostensibly coincidental work groups are.
Dieter Meier concerns himself with the phenomenon of time: He tends to announce and schedule his actions and performance with bureaucratic precision. The ostensible triviality and nonsensicality of many of his actions contrast sharply with the audiences heightened expectations. Yet Meier creates the deliberately insignificant, makes space for meaninglessness. Meier fosters fast-paced and radical nonmeaning in an effort to encounter any hell-bent hunt for meaning and patterns of artistic signification. Dieter Meier was born in 1945 in Zurich. Alongside his work as a musician and artist,
Dieter Meier is a writer (Hermes Baby, Ammann Verlag, Zurich; Die Maske des Erzählers 2012, Kiepenheuer & Witsch), author of childrens books (Windjo, Limmatverlag, Zurich; Oskar - wie ein Tiger, Kein & Aber, Zurich) and filmmaker (81'000 Einheiten, Jetzt und Alles, Lightmaker). He has played pro poker, designed clocks, and has an organic beef farm and winery in Argentina. He sells his products in Germany, the States, Switzerland and in his store for Argentine products in Zurich, Ojo de Agua.