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Anne und Patrick Poirier

Exhibition view Anne and Patrick Poirier 2003

1. May – 26. October 2003

Thun-Panorama

On the ground floor of the panorama building, the French artist-couple Anne and Patrick Poirier presented models and buildings made out of children's toys or parts of industrial machinery. As a result of their unified colour, they seemed to spread out on the floor like pools of oil, displacing, so to speak, nature and human life. At an aesthetic and emotional level, they recalled industrial landscapes. Devastated buildings, ruins, military installations, soldiers, airplanes and stranded ships were just some of the elements in these cosmoses, which in turn were peculiarly reminiscent of film sets. To a smaller degree, but no less oppressively, violence, war and destruction were also present. Deserted urban scenarios and quasi-utopian city constructs were also visible and exhibited a particular aesthetic, as well as an unexpected attention to detail. What linked the different typified landscapes was the fact that they were not localisable and remained anonymous.

The models presented in the exhibition – all of which date from 1999 and 2000 – addressed a theme with which the artist-couple has been preoccupied for many years. It involves an engagement with the history and culture which for centuries have left their mark on architecture and the landscape. The first architectural model which Anne and Patrick Poirier built in the 1970s out of thousands of miniature bricks was called Ostia Antica. Curiosity and a spirit of discovery are what inspired them to create this miniature scenario of the buried ancient city – recalling and bearing witness to human life. Today – often unconsciously – war is the point of departure for these artists, who belong to the post-war generation, born as they both were in 1942. Their models encourage viewers to reflect, on the past and the future, on nature and humanity. Anne and Patrick Poirier always draw on memory, which they regard as the origin of all cultures, influencing and guiding thought, emotion and action.

When you climb the steps to the panorama painted by Marquard Wocher between 1809 and 1814, you walk into the centre of an idyllic small town. The view not only extends outwards over the city of Thun and its surroundings, but also focuses on the 19th century petit-bourgeois way of life, which bears a resemblance to Arcadia. Against the backdrop of the often apocalyptic landscape scenarios of the artist-duo, Wocher's wondrous view of the city of Thun seems even more idyllic, more idealised. By contrast, the compelling worlds staged by Anne and Patrick Poirier act as visions of the future.