Christopher Williams. Supplements, Models, Prototypes

Organizer: gta Exhibitions
Date: Wednesday, 1 March 2017 to Monday, 12 June 2017
Location: ETH Hönggerberg

Tuesday, 28 February 2017, 6 pm
ETH Hönggerberg

Christopher Williams
Supplements, Models, Prototypes

We’re delighted to announce the new Visiting Artist program at ETH Zurich’s Department of Architecture. A protagonist from the realm of art will produce an exhibition and simultaneously work with the architecture students. This spring, the first Visiting Artist, Christopher Williams, will be a guest throughout the upcoming semester at the school. 

Opening on 28th of February, Christopher Williams’ monographic exhibition Supplements, Models, Prototypes showcases the strong but relatively quiet importance of exhibition architecture and design within a practice that has primarily involved the production and arrangement of photographic works. The exhibition presents a group of five exhibition walls from prior exhibitions.

These walls represent a range of wall types, from the highly articulated functioning model fabricated for modular use within a specific institutional framework (for example a fragment of a mobile wall system designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) for the Department of Photography at Art Institute of Chicago, which Williams has subsequently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Capitain Petzel, Berlin) to a beautifully realized provisional wall designed by the technician of the Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn (and also exhibited at Whitechapel, London, and Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and which represents the type of vernacular exhibition architecture most often associated with the exhibition of works by straight photographers such as Walker Evans and Aaron Siskind). Spanning this range, Williams’ collection, and this exhibition, articulate the space between idealized and theorized forms of exhibition design and the ad hoc pragmatism found within the vernacular of the craftsman whose practice is devoted to exhibition making.

Following a 2009 typological exhibition of mobile wall systems which were currently in use in the Rheinland in Germany, conceived at the Bonner Kunstverein in collaboration with the artist Mathias Poledna, this is the first exhibition of Williams’ work to focus exclusively on this central theme in his work. Working within the institutional memory of gta exhibitions, this display of walls, most of which come directly from the artists’ collection, will be supplemented by a sculpture by Peter Fischli and David Weiss directly related to the exhibition.

In May, 2017, produced in dialogue with the concurrent exhibition at gta exhibitions, Christopher Williams will present his first theater production at Miller’s Theatre Zurich. Occupying the language of theatrical production, Williams, who has worked extensively with both studio photography and with modes of visual display, seeks to relax the boundaries between the different modes of constructing pro-visual spaces, so that the construction of the photographic image and the construction of a theatrical image are seen as analogous activities which inform each other, each acting upon the other to produce a new term. 
The exhibition will be further explicated through a series of lectures, round-tables and student meetings within the Department of Architecture. The themes of exhibiting architecture, exhibition display and the fundamental question about the elements of architecture are immanent in the research of many chairs at the department.

About the Visiting Artist program

gta exhibitions understands architectural exhibitions as a medium of research and teaching. It functions as a platform of exchange between the various areas of knowledge within the Department of Architecture, as an interface to the global field of higher education in architecture and as a window to the interested public. As a part of the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) which was founded in 1967, gta exhibitions is deeply anchored in the academic culture of experimentation, education and international dialogue. Its aim is not so much to represent and mediate knowledge, but to produce knowledge in the realm of architecture exhibitions.

Starting this spring, gta exhibitions and Swiss Re launch the new format of a Visiting Artist. The idea is to invite a protagonist from the realm of art once a year who will produce an exhibition and simultaneously work with the architecture students. This format challenges the traditional exhibition format which confronts the visitors with a finished product and which limits the presence of its author to the opening event. Taking seriously the exhibition as an academic tool and an experimental platform, the new format will allow the author of the exhibition to spend time at the school, meet faculty and students and actually get involved with the life at the school.
The Visiting Artist is selected by the gta Board (which comprises the professors of the Institute gta, plus several other professors of the Department of Architecture) upon a proposal made by the curators of gta exhibitions. Concept by Philip Ursprung, Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen.