A stuntman, Frédéric Dessains, sits on a bench in the Rubens room of the Louvre. Commonly seen in French action films, Dessains was hired by the artist Shahryar Nashat. With keen concentration, he warms up for the physical challenge of turning the conventions of looking at pictures upside down. His body becomes a measure through his carefully controlled presence. This “regulating line” gauges not only the museum’s behavioural codes, but also the elevated power within the arabesque lines of the Rubens’ paintings. This monumental cycle of works illustrates stations in the life of Marie de Medici, who commissioned the paintings for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris when she was the queen of France in 1622.
The exhibition display in the Kunstverein’s hall – once a magnificent nineteenth-century waiting room for people travelling first class – is a response akin to the calibrations of the stuntman.
Shahryar Nashat (born in 1975 in Geneva) lives and works in Berlin.
Images: Michael Pfisterer