Bert Theis

In Preparation of the Philosophical Platform
09.21.18 - 10.21.18
Personal Exhibition — Jardin Raymond VI



Bert Theis, Untitled (banch), Isola, Milan, 2001.


Bert Theis was born in 1952 in Luxembourg, where he died in 2016. He lived and worked in Milan. His international acclaim arose at the 1995 Venice Biennale. There, he represented Luxembourg and joined the Belgian and Dutch pavilions by way of a so-called Luxembourgish pavilion made of white-painted wooden planks that formed a backyard containing only a few sun loungers – also white. The access was made through a hallway in which Marcel Duchamp's recognisably ironic voice was played in a sort of rap. Sun loungers are recurring objects in his installations, symbolic of the idea of rest, a break, laziness, in a word of retirement and of the suspension of the alienating rush of day to day life.

In 1997 Bert Theis presented a sculpture also made from white-painted wooden planks as part of the Skulptur Projekte Münster. It is a vast rectangular stage accessible via steps or lateral slopes. Its visual vocabulary brings to mind that of minimal art but its structure, an invitation to actual usage, symbolically removes it from the scope of art-objects that exist simply for free contemplation. This work is called Philosophical Platform. The term platform is here programme-based: it proposes an open, available, useful space that doesn't actually prescribe any specific use. The reference to philosophy must be understood as a recalling or commemoration of the ancient practice of philosophy as a questioning dialogue between minds concerned with agreement between equals. The Philosophical Platform has been appropriated in many ways, from critical discussion to tango lessons, from lovers' conversations to the peaceful stop during a tour of a large exhibition.

Having not managed, as we hoped, to secure its reconstruction in Toulouse for its 20th anniversary we will be presenting benches conceived by Bert Theis in the Jardin Raymond VI. An homage to this exemplary artist’s search for anti-authoritarian and convivial forms and the opening of ways to a reasoned exodus from the scope of art towards an emancipated city.

Bert Theis's work has been presented at various interna- tional biennales including the Venice Biennale (1995), Manifesta 2, the Gwangju Biennale (2002), Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997) and the Taipei Biennale (2008).

Bert Theis was born in 1952 in Luxembourg, where he died in 2016. He lived and worked in Milan.

Acknowledgments: Mariette Schiltz (Isola Art Center, Milan) and the Mamco.