Jannis Kounellis
Senza titolo (metamorfosi), 1984

This work, created especially for the newly founded Hallen für Neue Kunst, literally visualizes history as stratification. Kounellis had built a wall with stones and boards from the ruins of a broken-down Schaffhausen house; it covers the entire wall that it stands in front of. Each board was selected for ist uniqueness and highlighted by the traces of use it encountered. But not only Schaffhausen found a place in this work. As in Rome, where Kounellis lived, fragments appear in the wall like spolias: pieces of a cast of a Greek statue that is seen to be Apollo. The god of the muses’ mask lays on the table that helpes shoulder the layers; it is as though it were representing the creative artist.

Motivated by the transformation of the Schaffhausen textile factory into an art museum, Kounellis had tied the location and its history to a larger subject: the metamorphosis of one form into another. It is as though he is leading us onto a stage where a small section of world history could be experienced. The special thing: the image Kounellis presents to us is not fictional. Every part of it is what it is; however, the artist gave a poetic soul to the reality that we are faced with here. Change took on a shape in his work, and in the physical concentration we are confronted by the conviction that only consciousness of historical relationships puts us in a position to determine our own point of view today.

„Senza titolo (metamorfosi)” was part of a larger situation within the Hallen für Neue Kunst in which Kounellis, by selecting and placing different works, had bonded together the specific with the fundamental to form a general statement.