Untitled, 2014

Basel 2016
torn black coats, knives, metal beams, newspapers
In this violent and elegiac work by Jannis Kounellis, torn coats hang skewered by frightful butcher’s knives, whose handles – rolled up in newspapers dated August 2014, when the work was conceived – are in the grip of two metal bars attached to the wall. The space seems to have been split by a flash of lightning – in the center of the room is a dark column draped by further coats. Rudi Fuchs called this installation restless and sinister. ‘The black “stains” are edgy and ominous due to the torn contours as well as the knives. The dramaturgy is one of bleak excitement – like that in Rembrandt’s legendary portrayal The Three Crosses. “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness all over the earth until the ninth hours. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” This is how Luke describes the circumstances surrounding the crucifixion of Christ, and in that darkness the grand master of darks and shadows situated ultimate martyrdom…’ Foreshadowing contemporary events of migration, xenophobia, and religious wars, the taut language of this 2014 work is a stark reminder of the human condition and the fragmentation and alienation of modern society.