Ken Okiishi “Screen Presence” at Museum Ludwig

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Arts Foundation of of North Rhine-Westphalia has paired up 25 international artists with 25 art museums in the region. The artists have been asked to interact with the galleries’ permanent collections in order to produce exclusive works that will be shown alongside the originals that inspired them.

On Tuesday night New York artist Ken Okiishi spoke about the installation “Screen Presence” that he has produced in collaboration with Museum Ludwig for the 25/25/25 project.

Inspired by two specific works from the Ludwig’s permanent collection: Yves Klein’s “Blau-Abkommen” and Günther Uecker’s nail relief “weiß-weiß”, Okiishi’s installation consists of four LED monitors that have been carefully positioned at three specific points around the museum. The first monitor rests directly opposite “weiß-weiß” and like a twisted twin sister the flat-screen displays a full-size image of Uecker’s original, the surface of which is disturbed by the real-life nails that have been stuck side-down onto it.

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Whilst this first monitor plays with our perception the second questions our outlook. Positioned in the Haubrich collection opposite a portrait of the collector, it displays a video image of the first monitor, the appearance of which is distorted by the light-refracting translucent oil paint that Okiishi has brushed onto its surface. The reflective paint and careful positioning of the monitor cleverly interact with the surrounding collection and several of the works appear mirrored as a backdrop on the screen’s surface.

The final part of the installation consists of two monitors placed next to one another. Positioned in a room that overlooks the Rhine the two screens are inspired by Yves Klein’s “Blau-Abkommen”, whilst one captures the frantic and ever-changing trajectory of several museum artworks across its flickering screen, the other displays a tranquil Klein blue.

“Screen Presence” is more than just a clever comment on the interface-obsessed interaction of our age. Okiishi’s use of flat-screens as canvases creates a skilful contradiction: whilst physically distancing the viewer from the original work it simultaneously encourages engagement. By displaying the works of Uecker and Klein as if they were on iPad screens, modern-day audiences are forced to reconsider the way in which they have become accustomed to viewing art.

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“Screen Presence “ will be on display at Museum Ludwig until February.

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