Klaus Weber’s art works create ruptures with what we would call reality. In so doing they call our deepest belief systems into question. They provide an ironic counterpoint to the shared understanding – social, natural, scientific – that underpins our society. They also expose the maverick forces of nature that disrupt our own ability to control

  Image of Klaus Weber – If you leave me I’m not coming/Already there!
Image of Klaus Weber – If you leave me I’m not coming/Already there!

Klaus Weber,  If You Leave Me I'm Not Coming. Already There!,

Nottingham Contemporary, 2014.

Klaus Weber is an artist who strays through multiple disciplines and appears to take on various professional roles—from engineer to anthropologist, from bee-keeper to anatomist—in his ongoing exploration of natural and socio-political forces, questioning our social, physical, psychological and ontological relationships with the environments we live in.

If you leave me I’m not coming  was an exhibition of recent works and new commissions, while

Already there!  was a dense and finely tuned assemblage of 176 borrowed artworks and assorted objects of different kinds (as well as some of Weber’s own artworks), spanning 1,000,000 years. A selection of art works, mainly from the Tate collection, echoes Weber’s interests, dating back to Monkey and Dogs Playing by Francis Barlow from 1661. Artists include Sir William Allen, Louis Anquetin, John  Armstrong, Clive Barker, Francis Barlow, Reg Butler, César, George Fullard, Philip Guston, Gertrude Hermes, Sir George Howland Beaumont, Henri Michaux, Paul Neagu, David Shrigley, Sir Hamo Thorneycroft and Richard Wentworth. The publication is designed as two books in one, a book with two beginnings and no end. It features essays by Diedrich Diederichsen and Jörg Heiser and introductions by Klaus Weber and  Alex Farquharson and Abi Spinks.

Klaus Weber’s art works create ruptures with what we would call reality. In so doing they call our deepest belief systems into question. They provide an ironic counterpoint to the shared understanding – social, natural, scientific – that underpins our society. They also expose the maverick forces of nature that disrupt our own ability to control.
The natural world – and our changing view of what is natural – is a strong theme of the exhibition. The “natural” could also be regarded as the given – the underlying assumptions we all share. In the past it was thought society was shaped by just such a “natural” order. Perhaps it is not so different today.
As science progresses those beliefs are constantly destroyed and recreated, as is our view of ourselves within the universe – and society itself. Shape of the ape consists of kitsch copies of a 19th century sculpture of an ape squatting on a stack of books, contemplating a skull. It recalls the profound upheaval that followed Darwin’s theory of evolution, a discovery that placed man among the animals and refuted the divine idea of creation – a scientific advance that, to some religions, still remains contentious.
Sun Press (Against Nature) contains layers of allusion to the natural, and our idea of it. A heliostat on the roof concentrates the sun’s rays to print A Rebours (Against Nature) by JK Huysmans in the gallery below. The ultimate natural force is harnessed to slowly reveal a book that was explicitly a break with the 19th century Naturalist style of literature. Weber’s exhibition also questions the nature of art itself, as well as its place in an art gallery. Some of his works appear to have erupted from our building and are clearly visible from the streets outside. If you leave me I’m not coming, the work that gives the exhibition its title, turns our Weekday Cross window, our own window on the world, into a giant windscreen. Pouring rain obscures the view, while huge wipers work tirelessly to clear it. Weber’s bee paintings, which resemble abstract canvases, were actually made by bees themselves. Bees choose white surfaces to excrete on during their “cleansing flight” which follows winter hibernation. In this case they have obligingly decorated Weber’s blank canvases.
Up on the roof running man also plays on perception – and perhaps our tendency for preoccupied delusion. The sculpture echoes the classic cartoon caper of the man in a chase who runs blindly off a cliff. He remains insouciantly suspended, legs still pumping, until he realises his own predicament and suddenly plunges earthwards, succumbing to the inevitable forces of gravity.
Other works illustrate how our past beliefs still reverberate in the present. Giant wind chimes are tuned to the tritonic scale, reputedly banned in the Middle Ages as it was believed to summon the devil. Ironically the chords can still be heard in hell-raising heavy metal music today. -   www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/art/klaus-weber

This autumn Nottingham Contemporary presents a solo exhibition by Klaus Weber alongside an exhibition of equal size he has curated. If you leave me I’m not coming features a number of new works and is Weber’s largest exhibition since Secession in 2008. Already there! features some 200 objects from the last 1 million years. Amongst these are art works by Enrico Baj, Balthus, Clive Barker, Louise Bourgeois, André Breton, Reg Butler, César, Maya Deren, Gilbert & George, Nan Goldin, Philip Guston, William Hogarth, Mark Leckey, Henri Michaux, Jean Painlevé, Eduardo Paolozzi, Cornelia Parker, Sigmar Polke, Kurt Schwitters and David Shrigley

If you leave me I’m not coming, his solo exhibition, features several new commissions, each of which enters into a surprising relationship with our building. Outsized windscreen wipers will contend with a constant downpour of ‘rain’ over our large street facing window—the latest in a line of aberrant fountains Weber has become known for. A copy of J K Huysmans’ ‘Against Nature’ (1886) will be bleached onto a ream of black paper through printed sheets of glass by a vertical beam of light made by a heliostat mounted on the roof. A kinetic mannequin will simulate the appearance of a man running off the parapet of our building in the manner of a cartoon character who hasn’t yet realised it has run off the edge of a cliff.
Weber’s work is often concerned with uncanny crossovers between what is manmade and the natural world. The abstract paintings in the exhibition are made by bees defecating onto canvases on their ‘cleansing flights’ out of the hive. A domestic vacuum cleaner makes a pintsized tornado. The popular reception of Darwin’s theory of evolution is told from the perspective of the ape in a museum of small contemporaneous sculptures. Discredited scientific ideas or metaphysical convictions are resuscitated for their imaginative values. Our epistemological certainties are made to erode, and our controlled urban and institutional systems appear on the brink of chaos.
For Already there! Weber has assembled disparate objects spanning disciplines, cultures and epochs from the Ashmoleon museum, Science Museum, Tate and other collecting institutions. His dense, two-gallery display will resemble an unruly museum curated according to obscure but revealing interpretative schema. Odd formal coincidences between otherwise quite different objects will give rise to surprising ‘third meanings.’ Anatomical wax dolls in Regency clothing will rub up against defunct psychological testing instruments, a march of outdoor Modernist sculptures, the aquatic choreography of sea horses, Rabies warning signs, dozens of elaborate clay pipes, and an empty birdcage from a lunatic asylum. It is not so much the objects themselves that are bizarre, but their suggestive orchestration in a single space. Where is the ‘there’ that Weber will breathlessly transport us to? Already there! is both a weirdly diagonal route through our imploded collective archive and a tour via other objects of the intellectual backstage of the artist’s own practice.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Diedrich Diedrichson and Joerg Heiser co-published by Koenig and a free programme of talks on tritones, bees, bad science, fountain history, Darwinian pop culture, the Berlin squatter scene of the 90s, the free university movement, chimpanzee cinema, and what it means to have a body. There will be evenings of films by Jean Painlevé, Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger.
- www.e-flux.com/announcements/klaus-weber/

The exhibition is an archaeology of abandoned thought systems.’ [1]
Throughout my work a recurring theme has been the pursuit of the knowledge, what is an artist? And what inspires them? Therefore, when I saw Weber’s show at the contemporary it stood out to me like none of the London exhibitions had. Going to the Tate and Whitechapel gallery, left me feeling very cold towards the experience of looking at art, it was so commercial, a factory of putting people in pumping them round and hoping at the end they’d seen something ‘inspiring’, amongst the endless parade of artists lined up in front of them. The Klaus Weber show is in two parts, a solo exhibition ‘If you leave me I’m not coming’, and a compilation of collected works entitled ‘ Already there!’. I found this one of the most interesting parts of the show, it maps through not only the artists work and outcome of thought processes, but the thoughts themselves, the catalysts of inspiration and a contextual backdrop to the pieces in the show.
Apart from looking at the ‘foundations’ of Weber’s practise, the work itself also really interested me. Within my own practise I’m motivated and inspired into using different mediums to achieve what I want and visualise my ideas, this seems to be true also of Weber in his own work. The solo show consisted of sculpture, installation, text work and ‘paintings’. I hate being pinned down with the assumption that everyone has to be a ‘kind’ of artist, and I love the fact that Weber does not restrict himself in such a way. In his work Weber questions underlying assumptions and belief systems, acting out the continuous conflict occurring in society between nature and science. There is an open-endedness about this, and it allows him to explore, push the boundaries of his work whilst staying under the ‘umbrella’ of his theme. This means that although many of the pieces within the exhibition are very different they are still tied together through overriding ideas of disruption and maverick forces within nature.
Two of the pieces that particularly stood out to me were held together in just this way, not at all visually but conceptually. In the centre of the back room of the solo exhibition hung ‘Large Dark Wind Chime’ (Arab Tritione). It was a striking ominous presence within the room, playing with not only visual scale but aural, as it sent sinister vibrations throughout the gallery. What particularly made it a symbol of the dark, was that it was tuned into the ‘diabolus in musica’ or the ‘tritone’, spanning three musical tones this was avoided for centuries the Medieval church banning it believing it to have the ability to stimulate carnal urges and even summon the devil. The piece is a romanticised play on the fear of the ‘other’, confronting stereotypes in a very physical way that demands attention. The two fans set up use science and nature to create the movement and are essential for the piece to work adds to this confrontation, it’s a very tense piece, putting to rest the idea of the simple wind chime as a soothing melodic device.
The second piece of interest to me comes into play on the wall directly opposite the musical installation, these were Weber’s ‘Bee Paintings’, they provide such a stark humorous contrast and yet they still seem fundamentally linked with the subversion of the obvious and the assumed. They initially look like abstract paintings however it was in fact the bee’s themselves that created them. Every year on their ‘cleansing flight’ they excrete on the white clean surface and create the ‘art’ shown. Weber is giving up control over his work to nature, its pure, straight from subject to object with no interruption from artist, and it changes the way we perceive painting and what ‘painting’ and art is. Even the way the paintings are laid, different sizes, freely spaced out, it feels natural and loose rather than too planned out.
Both pieces have a set of rules and a sense of freedom simultaneously, the regimented lines and presence of the wind chime, the borders of the canvas, but there is also the lack of control the artist has over the wind that pushes the bars and the way the canvases look after they’ve been changed by the bee’s. It’s all about give and take, discovery and knowledge. Constantly question, because this is the only way we can move forward.
Gavin J R refers to the show as ‘a humorous tribal tapestry of human development’,[2] and this is what the second half of the show consists off, Weber’s development and self-discovery as to what he and his work are about, he has left the door ‘ajar’ for us to see. It’s hard to pick out something in particular to concentrate on as there was so much that interested me, however something that did stand out was the ‘Shape of the Ape’, a collection of kitsch copies of a 19th century sculpture of an ape squatting on a stack of books contemplating a human skull, Hamlet like. The end of the room is dark, and walking between the sculptures feels like walking through an old bookshop or the recesses of the artists mind. The original sculpture was a satirical comment on Darwin’s theory of evolution that was so profound that it is still contested to this day. The smaller pieces surround a larger shattered sculpture in the centre; it’s a physical representation of the clash between science and nature, a symbol of frustration and fracture. The Hamlet reference also reminds of the constant state of flux that we are in as individuals, always asking questions, always in conflict, however generally not knowing which decision is best.
Weber’s show is darkly humorous, there is the sense of someone constantly questioning, searching and demanding something different from the world, what has been and what has the potential to be true. This freshness is what I think makes it so successful, as an artist he is not afraid to make mistakes, and to experiment. He shows us into his mind, into what makes him tick, and shown us something of ourselves, how humans tend to stray away from what does not conform to what we know, what does not fit with our stereotypes and assumptions. It has shown me that the most important asset to have as an artist if the ability to question, to find and not always to understand,
[1] Taken from page 9 of the Exhibition notes for the Klaus Weber show at Nottingham Contemporary.
[2] www.a-n.co.uk/p/1657029  - Trinity Spohrer


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