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127 Burleigh Aesthetics In The 21 St Essay

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Issue 2.4 / 2012: 237

Aesthetics in the 21st
Century: Walter
Derungs & Oliver

Eight, maybe, nine or ten 40 litre bags of potting
compost lie strewn about the floor of a highceilinged white washed hall. Dumped, split open, the soil mixed with iridescent specks of green,
blue and red glitter. On the walls hang large black
and white photographic images—negative and
positive prints barely clean, hardly sharp,
scavenged from the world and presented half
processed. On a third wall, hangs a framed
golden and charcoal surface. Finally, a huge stain
of black dye runs down a wall that descends into a
sunken quarter of the Kaskadenkondensator
gallery space.

Peter Burleigh
Aesthetics in the 21st Century: Walter Derungs & Oliver Minder

Peter Burleigh / ISSN: 21599920|

Located in Kleinbasel close to the Rhine, the
Kaskadenkondensator is a place of mediation and
experimental, research-and process-based art
production with a focus on performance and
performative expression. The gallery, founded in
1994, and located on the third floor of the former
Sudhaus Warteck Brewery (hence cascade
condenser), seeks to develop interactions
between artists, theorists and audiences.

The results of a collaboration between Oliver
Minder and Walter Derungs reflect on themes
addressed in the recent Aesthetics in the 21st
Century conference held by the department of
English, University of Basel. In particular, the joint
show questions how an aesthetic experience may
be other than a human-world interaction, hinting
at the withdrawal and veiling that objects
perform, while demanding that different works
engage with each other and play out this game
under the non-supervisory eyes of a human
audience. Things here are becoming—sometimes
it’s a movement towards a more complete ontic
whole in a projection of finality, other times it’s a
dispersal, an atrophy to rather disarrayed entities.
Yet, in the moment and place in which the objects
are, we take them as here and now.
Let’s get to the material of the stuff that Minder
and Derungs have assembled. Oliver Minder
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

In the Kaskadenkondensator works, then, it is vital
to first consider the material of Minder’s works:
potting compost—what is it doing here in the first
place?—seems to enjoy being “polluted” by
sparkly glitter. Glitter has a long history, used in
cosmetics by the Egyptians, and in cave paintings,
too, earlier made of beetle shells and mica,
nowadays glitter is made of plastic cut to minute
sizes down to 50 microns. So what’s the point
here? Well shiny bits of dust-like material are
actually generated from ultra-thin plastic sheets
and are normally cut into shapes that fit
contiguously on a two-dimensional surface:
squares, triangles, hexagons etc.

Issue 2.4 / 2012: 238
Peter Burleigh
Aesthetics in the 21st Century: Walter Derungs & Oliver Minder

employs organic materials—potting earth,
cuttlefish ink secretion, rice, and insects; yet his
works hardly seem natural in the sense of a
harmonic relation b...

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