A protean, unclassifiable artist, he has been producing unusually elegant art since 1967. He makes no distinction between drawing, painting, sculpture, installations, and performance pieces. He takes part in PerformanceProcess with a performance piece, which will also form the basis for an installation presented in the exhibition.
Born 1948, lives in Geneva.
Founded the Ecart group in Geneva in 1969. Founded the gallery of the same name in 1973. John Armleder has produced an incredibly subtle and complex body of work, from performances and installations in the 1970s to collages, abstract compositions, explicit borrowings from art history and recycled furniture (Furniture Sculpture), which brought him international fame in the 1980s as a leading exponent of the Neo-Geo movement.
John Armleder is preparing a surprise for the 30th anniversary of the CCS. Don't bother asking what he's up to, his lips are (almost) sealed... ...
John Armleder is preparing a surprise for the 30th anniversary of the CCS. Don't bother asking what he's up to, his lips are (almost) sealed...
“I make no difference between painting, performance and installation. I don't believe in those categories. They get in the way more than anything.” A worthy heir to Fluxus, John Armleder smiles inscrutably, then pauses for a moment before revealing a few details of the performance he will be presenting on 8 October at the CCS.
“As in my paintings, everything will be planned and thought out beforehand. But once the process starts, once everything is set in action, anything can happen. Details and accidents are always interesting. To tell the truth, they move me more than actual content, which is already known.” The performance entitled Events 1967-2015 will comprise a series of pieces—mostly “concerts”—some of them created in the past, others produced here for the first time. All are interconnected, forming an original “moment” lasting between an hour and ninety minutes. In November, the duo John Armleder and Christian Marclay will re-form for Simultaneous Duo Versions, presented in March 2014 at the École Cantonale d'Art in Lausanne (Écal) with two chapters entitled Mostly Silent Music and Mostly Noisy Music.
The two artists, face to face, will act simultaneously, “but each in his own way”. On stage will be two pianos, two drumkits, two tables, etc. The first part will be devoted to John Cage and his legendary 4'33'' of “replete” silence. The second will mainly comprise a series of performed tributes.
John Armleder is an elusive artist. He is an essential figure on the Genevan and Swiss art scene, and an icon of international contemporary art who exercises fascination and commands our attention, so much so that Maurizio Cattelan made a doll in his image and the Italian art critic Luca Cerizza entitled a project If I was John Armleder (What a curator is not supposed to do).
Along with his friends from the Ecart group, he first considered the practice of art to be on the same plane as that of rowing, tea-drinking, or walking, but after the Ecart Happening Festival in 1969, the practice became more regular. Ecart opened its gallery in 1972 and developed a programme of exhibitions, events and publications that brought Geneva into the international Fluxus network. The Ecart Performance Group & Guests (EPG&G), founded in 1974, involved Genevan artists such as John Armleder, Carlos Garcia, Patrick Lucchini, Gérald Minkoff and Muriel Olesen. The American artist Ken Friedman—who declared that George Maciunas had appointed him “director of Fluxus West”—helped cement the links between Ecart and the international scene.
In 1977, EPG&G presented and played a performance recital at the Centre d'Art Contemporain in Geneva, including the first Fluxconcert performed in Switzerland, pieces by George Brecht, Alison Knowles, Robert Bozzi, and the world premiere of Clown's Way by Dick Higgins. In 1979, Ecart invited Manon to present an exhibition and a performance, and EPG&G gave a Dada Recital involving twenty-four performers at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva. John Armleder also gave a lecture-cum-performance on Fluxus and neo-Dadaism. In 1980, the Ecart group—John Armleder in particular—was closely involved in the exhibition Fluxus & Co at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva, notably performing a Fluxconcert for George Maciunas. In 1981, John Armleder and Ecart organised and played performances at the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne, at the CH'70- 80' exhibition. From 1982 on, John Armleder was the sole member of Ecart.
John Armleder, inhabited by the philosophy of John Cage, also produced relational art before the fact, by serving tea. He has practiced performance art from the very start of his artistic activity. Long after the historic years of Ecart, he presented performance pieces at the Kunsthallen in Berne (1999) and Zurich (2004), at the National Art Center (NAC) in Tbilissi (2005), at the Cabinet des Estampes in Geneva (2006), at the ICA in Philadelphia, at the Mamco in Geneva (2007), at Forde in Geneva (2011), and more recently at the Écal in Lausanne (2014) and the church of San Paolo Converso in Milan (2015). He is, as we said, preparing a surprise for the 8 October at the CCS... We should keep in mind what he once said: “In general I think specifically about a project and I end up constructing another. I then forget what I'm doing and I end up with something I know nothing about”. ?
Linn Levy, arts journalist who writes for Edelweiss magazine and CCS