Monte Vera

Susanne Figner, Museum Kurhaus Kleve

The starting point for Thomas & Renée Rapedius’ piece Monte Vera was set when the duo was granted a three-month residency in Buenos Aires. The award included a living and studio space in a suburban community of foreign and local artists. To prepare, Thomas & Renée Rapedius eschewed conventional guide books in favor of literary accounts of travel and seclusion. The artists were particularly drawn to Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s novels describing her exotic journeys, as well as documentaries of the artist commune Monte Verità in Switzerland, among others. Both Schwarzenbach’s fantastic escapes from Europe and the high-spirited “Cooperativa Monte Verità” were prone to failure due to their idealistic goals and expectations that soon collapsed under the impression of worldly emotions and personal conflicts.

Transferred into the contemporary gallery space, Monte Vera expresses Thomas & Renée Rapedius’ own engagement with the expectations, emotions and failures of the travel experience. Formally, the paper installation annexes the gallery’s lights and white walls as part of its composition, which offers perspectives on finely cut and layered mountain shapes. Diminutive drawings on the surface of the paper map out both real and fictive events in the artists’ journey and force the viewer to move around the installation to compose the fragmented narrative. Though the various mountain views grant spectactorial pleasures, the artists’ refusal to give a comprehensive account of their travel experiences creates an uncanny gap in viewpoints between the panoramic perspective seen from afar and the fragmented view from up close. This break with the expectation of a continuous perception opens up a dialectic of outside and inside that is similar to the strategies applied by many postminimalists. Like artists of this group, Thomas & Renée Rapedius set the spectator in motion and offer continuous views while revealing the constructed character of ideal depictions of the travel experience.