Exchange Rates–Fareed Armaly at Buck & Nagel.”

Program section 20.05.88–02.06.88


It must be an American who makes clear the connection between the multifaceted art system and the wacky world economic system. The comparison was successful: Fareed Armaly (31) lets Wechselkurse (Exchange Rates) express a current economic principle in his installation: Twelve snow globes corresponding to the twelve EC states, bearing the idea that if one market is in equilibrium any exchange is possible.

The exchange, which here also refers to art and (art) history, is here even more than a mere trade. The “game plan” which Kohl addresses as an economic goal for the next four years of the EC and which Armaly uses as a quotation of a newspaper article for his work is subject to the law of the free market economy, as is art and its exchange with already existing “works of art.” The artist only selects, combines, and abstracts.

Armaly himself makes this clear in his work Abstraction, in which he confronts the pages of a language textbook from the 1930s with reverse-glass prints that reduce the numbered terms to drawing rudiments. The “basic vocabulary” is explained by pictures, but the pictures speak for themselves only in connection with other pictures. The ironic-cultural attitude towards image and concept is reminiscent of the Belgian word artist Broodthaers, who is back in conversation today.

As an American, Armaly is also an aesthete of surfaces. Wechselkurse is also a two-part pictorial work in which he quotes European mannerisms: As 450 years ago, Parimigianino distorts the artist’s self-portrait in a convex mirror—but Armaly reproduces this again by means of photography. The result is a light box with a double image, in which two stars of photo art participated: Clegg & Guttmann.

The new discovery of the artist Armaly by Buck & Nagel for her gallery Christoph Dürr (Stuckvilla) is an artistic revelation. Armaly was once an assistant to Joseph Kosuth and has so far only participated in group exhibitions, most recently in the sculpture project “Broken Neon” at the same art venue. In his first solo exhibition, the American returns art to its abstract realm of thought. The system remains. Only the current threads are missing. Armaly spins a fine web.