Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

The Power of Image Culture & Making Images in the Context of Soccer

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.

 

Hamburger Bahnhof
Invalidenstraße 50/51
+49-0-30-3978-3412
Berlin
Beuys wing on the top floor
Paul Pfeiffer
The Saints

October 10, 2009-March 28, 2010

Paul Pfeiffer’s ground-breaking video and sculpture works explore the power of image culture and reflect how images are made. His works invite the audience to shift focus. The centerpiece of this exhibition is Pfeiffer’s sound and video installation The Saints, a restaging of the legendary 1966 World Cup final between West Germany and England in London’s Wembley Stadium. Executed in London, The Saints was commissioned in 2007 by Artangel. Inaugurated in the fall of that year, it was shown in an empty warehouse very near the legendary Wembley Stadium. In the meantime, thanks to the generous support of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, London, it was acquired for the collection of the Nationalgalerie. Its overwhelming sound of masses cheering and chanting accompanies the visitor while watching Pfeiffer’s Empire (2004, on loan from Julia Stoschek Foundation e.V.) that shows the real time of the creation of a wasps’ nest over the course of three months. The mental space evoked by the sound also materializes upon encountering Pfeiffer’s Vitruvian Figure (2009, on loan from Sammlung Goetz), a huge model of a sports stadium.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, Loop: 33 min., 18-channel sound and videoinstallation, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
2009 erworben durch Outset Contemporary Art Fund, London
2009 acquired by Outset Contemporary Art Fund, London

The result of the 1966 football World Championship is not simply legendary; this history-charged spectacle is mythical even today. This highly symbolic and emotional situation forms the backdrop for The Saints.

Based on original film and sound materials, this video and sound installation illuminates and re-stages the most important sports event in European post-war history. Paul Pfeiffer hired approximately 1000 Filipinos who gathered in a movie theater in Manila, the Philippines, where they cheered and chanted in accompaniment to a re-staging of the 1966 match. The 1966 event is hereby reconstructed and updated as a manifestation of an anonymous crowd. In addition, it is relocated geographically and culturally from Wembley to Manila.

For Paul Pfeiffer, this event is part of our collective memory, and it points to the symbolic encounter of two former wartime enemies who now reconvene— surrounded by their plentiful fans—on an emblematic battle-ground. The followers are the stadium’s constitutive element; its so-called witches’ cauldron is one of the last resorts in our industrialized society that serves as a legitimate space for anger, joy, aggression, violence, as well as national identity. Thereby, this piece deals with such topics as identity, historiography, transferability of popular motives, and fanatic sports culture. The Saints takes on an existential level that goes beyond the specific context of the 1966 football World Cup.

Paul Pfeiffer, Empire, 2004
Single channel video, 3 month duration, Dimensions variable, Julia Stoschek Foundation e.V., Düsseldorf

A real-time digital video, Empire shows the creation of a wasps’ nest over the course of three months. Pfeiffer recorded the queen building her nest, laying her eggs and establishing her rule. The recording’s first and last moments are dictated by the natural life cycle of the particular nest. There is no editing: the webcam runs continuously. While watching Empire, one can already hear the sound of The Saints. It is the specific sound of soccer fans cheering and chanting. In both Empire and The Saints Pfeiffer explores the relation of individual bodies to the larger, social bodies. Personal identity is submerged into a larger entity. One can go even further and link Empire to the history of Wembley Stadium itself, inaugurated as Empire Stadium in 1923 on the occasion of the British Empire Exhibition. Empire and The Saints represent different versions of hierarchical formations in progress. Empire’s very length of three months implies the impossibility of viewing it in its entirety; we can only catch a fragment. Thus, even before entering the exhibition space of The Saints, our perception is already being tested.

Paul Pfeiffer, Vitruvian Figure, 2009, Birch multiplex, spy mirror, stainless steel polished, 586 x 472 x 240 cm, Sammlung Goetz
The sound of The Saints has already led our imagination to the arena of sports spectacle. Now Vitruvian Figure — a huge model of a sports stadium — literally blocks our way. Yet, it does not represent the entire architectural space but uses mirrored glass to evoke the idea of a whole. The perfection of the wasps’ nest in Empire seems to be echoed in the stadium architecture. While Empire shows a colony of wasps building a nest, we now see an architectural space built to bring together thousands of people. Modeled after a classical amphitheatre, the stadium is a well-designed and perfectly proportioned geometrical space. The title, Vitruvian Figure, refers to the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius who defined architecture as an imitation of nature. Vitruvius argued that humans construct their houses from natural materials that give them shelter the same way, for instance, wasps built their nests.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1966, Paul Pfeiffer spent most of his childhood in the Philippines. After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute, he went on to attend Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York City, where he currently lives and works. Venues for Pfeiffer’s solo exhibitions include The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, K21, Düsseldorf and Thyssen- Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. His work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, PS1, and the Guggenheim in New York, and his work has been included in The Whitney Biennial and La Biennale di Venezia. In 1994, Pfeiffer received a fellowship from the Fulbright-Hayes Foundation, and in 2000 he was the first recipient of The Whitney’s Bucksbaum Award. In 2001 he was an artist-in-residence at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he was awarded The Alpert Award in the Arts for Visual Art in 2009. Pfeiffer was recently the subject of a major career spanning solo exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (Spain) in 2008, and is currently preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition at BAIBAKOV art projects in Moscow.

A catalogue will be published by the Kehrer Verlag (German / English) with a wide-ranging interview by Paul Pfeiffer and James Lingwood, essays by Kodwo Eshun, An Paenhuysen, Britta Schmitz, and Ian White. ISBN 978-3-88609-670-1.

Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007, 33 Min., Filmstill.