18. October – 18. November 2007
In its Projektraum enter, the Kunstmuseum Thun is showing an installation work by Pablo Müller (*1979) which he produced specially for the exhibition at the Thunerhof. Since he first began to train as an artist, Müller has repeatedly explored themes that revolve around the issue of the social relevance of art. Pablo Müller's works are always site-related. Thus in the context of his recently completed diploma examination at the Hochschule der Künste in Zurich (HGKZ), he wrote eight texts dealing with possible links between art and politics for the political newspaper antidot. These articles were simultaneously published in the newspaper and shown in an exhibition.
For the work exhibited in Thun Müller has also chosen a topic related to the exhibition venue.
The point of departure for the work were two black-and-white photographs by the Thun photographer Jean Moeglé (1853–1938), which caught the artist's eye in a documentation on the Thunerhof. The prints date from around 1906; one is a view of the former open veranda of the Thunerhof with hotel guests dressed in their finery drinking tea or coffee; for the second photograph, the photographer trained his camera on the main entrance of the Grand Hotel on the side facing the street. What is striking about the two photographs are the foreign employees, either serving the guests or receiving new arrivals at the reception in “smart” uniforms or in supposedly north African traditional dress.
Pablo Müller approaches the photographs and the associations conjured up by them from different levels: in a film, consisting of four interviews which the artist had with Veit Arlt from the Centre for Africa Studies in Basel, Rea Brändle, a free-lance writer and journalist in Zurich, the Bernese historical monument preservationist Roland Flückiger, and Jon Keller of the Thun city archives. The theme was the Thunerhof as a Grand Hotel with an aura of the exotic and oriental. Müller is interested both in the running of the Grand Hotel, and in the photographs as possible advertisements specially staged for the purpose. From a contemporary perspective he questions the creation of an atmosphere by means of connotations relating to the black servant. In the light of his critical questions, what increasingly loses its charm is the nostalgia which we the viewers are tempted at first glance to associate with the historical black-and-white photographs.
At another level, Müller offers the exhibition visitors a series of books as part of the installation and as information material that functions as a cause of friction. Each book plays its own part, focussing on one aspect of the theme: Mein liebes Thun (in which Jean Moeglé's photographs were reproduced) deals with the history of Thun and thus of the Thunerhof one hundred years ago; Franz Kafka's Der Verschollene takes up the viewpoint of a servant; Grand Hotel presents the Grand Hotel as a literary scenario; Exotische Welten, europäische Phantasien focuses on the exotic. Ultimately, an engagement with these publications should give rise to an overall image. The visitors are invited to leaf through and read the books.
Pablo Müller was born in 1979 in Baar (ZG) and studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zurich (HGKZ).