3.3 — 29.4.2001
artist(s): stanley brouwn
curator(s): Michel Assenmaker, Eric Brunier, Enrico Lunghi
an aluminium strip of a length of 1 m (unit of measurement of the casino luxembourg) is placed on a table in the lobby of the casino luxembourg. a cube with sides that correspond to an old unit of measurement of a European city is placed on the floor of each of the other exhibition rooms.
in relation with the exhibition and in collaboration with l'office, école nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de dijon, the casino luxembourg will edit two publications: on 2 march 2001 stanley brouwn will walk a total distance of x feet (124 pages), and an imaginary column of 30 feet on place guillaume in luxembourg (148 pages).
another stanley brouwn exhibition will be on show at the musée d'art moderne et contemporain in strasbourg from 9 February to 22 April 2001. It will present the manyfold aspects of the development of the artist's work, from this way brouwn (1960) up until today. both exhibitions should be seen as complementary.
stanley brouwn's works elude a stylistic definition. developed directly from experiences of everyday life, they have the aim of creating a consciousness of movement in the world (in a narrower and wider sense). their conceptual character is already revealed in the works this way brouwn which appeared from 1960 onwards: with the help of pencil and paper brouwn had passers-by present him with descriptions of the way between his location and a destination in amsterdam, the point for him being the distance to be covered. differences appeared between the evaluation of visual and verbal explanations. the sketch was preserved with the stamp this way brouwn. in 1970 the stedelijk museum in schiedam presented works of which each consisted of two parallel lines of differing lengths, placed on the floor 50 cm apart and pointing in the direction of various cities. the public was able to move between the lines for several metres in the direction of the places in question (walk 6 m in the direction of tokyo; walk 11 m in the direction of rangoon etc.; cat. 'la paz', schiedam, 1970). in 1971 brouwn went on a journey from the netherlands to north africa via belgium, france, spain, morocco, algeria and back, during which every day he made an exact count of the number of steps he completed in each country he crossed on his journey (a project with the stedelijk museum, amsterdam; cat. 'steps', amsterdam, 1971). as early as 1967 brouwn's life and world came into its own when he began to acquire in several countries 1 square metre of land, amongst others in the netherlands, denmark, belgium, surinam, japan, sweden, turkey, germany. the juxtaposition of physically standardised measurements and body measurements played a central role in his subsequent work. in 1 step (1973) brouwn transferred millimetre for millimetre the length of a completed step onto 847 index cards. whereas in other works on paper, such as 1000 mm (1974) absolute distances are formulated, in 300 km 1 :100.000 (1976), 1 step 1 :12, 1 :6, 1 :3 on 1 m (1976) the aim is the conversion into other distances, and in 1 m, 1 step (1977) the aim is the juxtaposition of varying units of measurement (all of these works in the kunstmuseum wolfsburg).
whereas up to then brouwn had transferred his measurements onto paper, ten years later measurements were transferred onto metal and could in themselves be regarded as measuring instruments: 1 foot, 1 ell, 1 step, 1 m (1987); 1 x 1 foot, 1 x 1 ell, 1 x 1 m (1991) and 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 ell, 1/16 x 1/16 x 1/16 ell, 1/32 x 1/32 x 1/32 ell (1994). by means of the last two works mentioned brouwn extended his investigations into the second and third dimension respectively. these works of metal (kunstmuseum wolfsburg) worked exactly to a tolerance of 1/100 of a millimetre, had been previously used by brouwn as measuring instruments. the traces of evidence of use on the works are therefore not blemishes, but vouch for the authenticity of an art that is a part of the experience of life. in all the works of this sort the measurements of the 'brouwn-ell' (47 cm) and the 'brouwn-foot' (27 cm) are identical. what varies in each work is the step measurement. this unit of length is the only one of those mentioned that is dependent on movement, i.e. dependent on the condition of the walking individual at any one time. as an elementary human activity, walking plays a central role in all of brouwn's works, because it makes it possible to experience the covering of distances with the greatest degree of immediacy.
by juxtaposing his body measurements ('brouwn-measurements') with physically standardised measurements, brouwn relates the need for intersubjective communication (conventions, norms) back to individual experience. his own physicality finally became the yardstick for the shaping of his immediate surroundings: he has produced furniture (since 1978), doors (since 1985) and designs for buildings (since 1987). in this context brouwn ordered from specialist shops piping, multiplex panels etc. in which the 'goods sold by the metre' were measured according to 'brouwn-measurements': in brouwn's works the old measurements such as foot, ell and step return to everyday life by being used as measuring instruments. this makes it clear that brouwn has never regarded himself as a graphic artist or sculptor, but that the conception decides in the last analysis the choice of material or the medium, this being in principal of equal importance (e.g. the work and the card bearing the title with its typography and size; video, book). admittedly, this also means that an explicit renunciation of information (concerning his person or a systematic survey of his works) likewise assumes a material character.
in the château d'oiron (france) and in the petit palais, musée d'art moderne in Geneva are works dating from 1993 and 1994 respectively, which are related to the journey to north Africa in that distance and time are concentrated into movement: alongside four measuring rods (1 foot, 1 ell, 1 step, 1 m) in each case information can be read on separate tables: 'at this moment stanley brouwn is at a distance of x feet (or ells / steps / metres) from this point'.
holger broeker (museum wolfsburg) in: saur allgemeines künstler lexikon, 1996.
translated from german by david andrews.