Thomas Hirschhorn
Touching Reality, 2012
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
22.10.14 – 05.02.15

In a mid-sized, darkened room, still images are silently projected, selected, passed by and zoomed in on by a female hand working a tablet computer. The images present violently mutilated human bodies, victims of war and variously declared conflicts. While they are rarely seen in the mainstream media, these kinds of pictures proliferate on the Internet.

In a diagram describing the work, Thomas Hirschhorn asks, rhetorically perhaps: “Why is it important to look at such images?” A generation ago, it was common to believe in the power of images to awaken consciousness. Pictures were thought to make things more real. By contrast, today we may have reached a point where it is so easy to access vast numbers of similar images that their impact has lessened: just more litter in the heap of mass spectatorship and sensationalism.

It is no longer enough to simply rely on the knowledge that these images exist. What’s more, “just showing” them might indeed not suffice. To engage with the horrors they depict − that is to say, to reactivate their indexical value − requires more. Hirschhorn therefore calls on the sense of touch, albeit twice removed (in representation and mediated by a device), recalling Doubting Thomas’s need to finger Christ’s wounds to believe.
– ML

Thomas Hirschhorn, Touching Reality, 2012, video, silent, 4:45 minutes; exhibition view of Intense Proximity, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012 (courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; photo : Romain Lopez)
Thomas Hirschhorn, Touching Reality, 2012, video, silent, 4:45 minutes; exhibition view of Intense Proximity, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012 (courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; photo : Romain Lopez)
Biography

Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern, Switzerland. He studied at the Schule für Gestaltung, Zurich, from 1978 to 1983. Since 1984, he has been based in Paris. His work has been shown at numerous museums and galleries, and in group exhibitions including the 48th Venice Biennale (1999); Documenta11 (2002); 27th Bienal São Paulo (2006); 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA (2008); Swiss Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012); and Gladstone Gallery New York (2012). In 2013, Hirschhorn presented the Gramsci Monument in the Bronx, New York.

Critical Laboratory: The Writings of Thomas Hirschhorn, a selection of his writings, was recently published by MIT Press (October Books). With each exhibition – in museums, galleries and alternative spaces – as well as with specific works in public space, Hirschhorn asserts his commitment toward a non-exclusive public. He has received a number of awards and prizes, including: Preis für Junge Schweizer Kunst (1999); Prix Marcel Duchamp (2000); Rolandpreis für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum (2003); Joseph Beuys-Preis (2004); and the Kurt Schwitters-Preis (2011). He is represented by Chantal Crousel, Paris and Gladstone Gallery New York.

gladstonegallery.com/artist/thomas-hirschhorn

Events
Videos
Talk between Thomas Hirschhorn and Hugo Vitrani (french)

Thomas Hirschhorn parle de la rencontre du sensible et de l’insoutenable destruction des corps dans un entretien avec Hugo Vitrani.