Ruhrtriennale, a six-week-long festival of music and arts in the northwestern German city of Bochum, opened its doors this past weekend, unveiling an art village by Atelier Van Lieshout in front of the event’s Jahrhunderthalle hub.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is an expansive, immersive installation – part retrospective on Joep Van Lieshout’s large-scale structural practice as well as an arena to display new projects, together comprising a place ‘for everyone who is curious,’ and the Atelier’s biggest work to date. (It also, confusingly, shares a name with the group's touring 1998 triptych trailor project.)
Hosting a plethora of events – from concerts to film screenings, workshops and artist's talks – the installation includes some of the Atelier’s most interesting past works, such as Bar Rectum, 2005, an anatomically-detailed bar shaped after the human digestive system (with a large door, doubling as an emergency exit, located on the structure’s anus); the portable farm Pioneer Set from 1999; 2005's The Heads, Claudia & Hermann; and Workshop for Weapons & Bombs, a homemade munitions workshop first displayed in 1998.
The exhibition also marks the debut of a large-scale, Dacha-like ‘functional artwork’ titled Domestikator. Acting as a ‘totem, temple and beacon’ for the Triennale’s grounds, the installation explores themes of ethics, human domination over nature, the advancement of the digital world and the few taboos – bestiality included – that remain in our society.
As a collected whole, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is a grand testament to Atelier Van Lieshout’s ‘Nouveau Brutalism’ and their keen ability to swing seamlessly between disciplines while maintaining a simultaneously irreverent and critical point of view.