"Objects have physically disappeared. Only their images and their
–José de Jesús Martínez,
Teoria del Vuelo, Panamá, 1979
Stevenson makes adjustments to narrative texts, re-constructs objects and
renders images which draw, by means of allegory, upon his long-standing
fascination with island states. For Portikus—positioned on an island
in the river Main and home to a bird sanctuary—Michael Stevenson
takes on the entire building and translates its structure into a large
camera obscura to produce an image "in-flight."
"magical" effects of daylight, mirror and lens, an image will pass through
the building determined by the particularities of the Portikus structure.
The building-as-camera will make a live-photograph of a life-size aircraft
lodged in the attic like a ship in a bottle. The image will pass out the
attic window, fall through an external shaft and arrive back inside the
exhibition hall. At night, the object of flight will be seen at a distance
across the river and through the distinctive attic windows of Portikus.
In keeping with the artist's previous re-constructions of
architectural forms and re-productions of objects that animate historical
narratives, Michael Stevenson has integrated a specific history into the
transformation of the building. Panamanian mathematician, Marxist
philosopher, poet and playwright José de Jesús
Martínez (known as Chuchú) is the protagonist of this
installation. He was also the personal bodyguard and advisor to
Panamá's leader General Omar Torrijos Herrera. His writings have
been a significant source material for Michael Stevenson since he began
tracing a confluence of remarkable events that occurred on the island of
Contadora, set in the Gulf of Panama, in the late 1970s.
Chuchú was also a keen aviator and flew a number of light
aircraft, each named after an Aleph number from the mathematical sequence
used in set theory to represent the infinite. For the Portikus exhibition,
Chuchú's text Teoria del Vuelo (Theory of Flight) is both
transcribed onto physical space and reproduced in book form. A re-print and
translation of the original book, bound with the lightest paper a printing
press can handle, will be available to take away.
most extensive publication on Michael Stevenson's practice to date, with
new texts by authors including Michael Taussig, Mark von Schlegell and Jan
Verwoert, will be released during the exhibition. It is co-produced by
Portikus and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, published by Verlag
der Buchhandlung Walther König, and realised with support from
Creative New Zealand.
Please note that due to the nature
of Michael Stevenson's installation, Portikus will be open during daylight
hours only, from 10am until sunset.
information and guided tours of the exhibition, please contact us at
+49 69 9624454-0.
Curator: Sophie von Olfers
Curator: Laura Preston
2 / Maininsel
60594 Frankfurt am Main
T +49 69 962 44 540
The exhibition at Portikus is made possible by