‘Something Else Is Possible’ declares a neon sign atop a building in Ibiza. It’s not a come-hither slogan from one of the island’s clubs trying to tantalise the hedonism-seeking revellers that flock their each summer, but rather, a work from a new collaborative exhibition by the artists Tobias Rehberger and Douglas Gordon.
At the Museu d’Art Contemporani (MACE), Gordon and Rehberger contemplate their own Ibiza experiences, honing in on the post-party comedown, or the notion of ‘After the After’ (as the exhibition is named). To wit, many of the works explore sentiments of emptiness and abandonment – though not to suggest the exhibition is a melancholic affair. ‘I like to party. He likes to party. We know what happens after the fat lady sings!’ quips Gordon.
The pair’s relationship spans some 20-odd years, after being introduced in Rotterdam by fellow artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Surprisingly, in two decades of close friendship this is the first time their practices have intertwined so formally.
‘We started out in that way one has when you have an artist as a friend and colleague, namely having ideas about how somebody else’s work could develop. So we told each other what kind of work we should make,’ explains Rehberger of how the collaboration came about. ‘From that it went into all kinds of directions. Making work together, making work about each other and each other’s work, making work starting where the other one stops…’
Their fondness for one another is evident in the show’s homoerotic undertones, which also nods to the island’s reputation as a liberal sexual enclave (both artists, for the record, are straight). At the entrance of the museum, Rehberger has rendered a vast, pixelated mosaic of two naked men in a lusty embrace. Gordon responded directly to this work with a pseudo-pornographic video projection. Inside the museum, the artists present sculptures, paintings and film works, in addition to portraits they have created of each other.
In addition to the pieces at MACE, the artists have ‘vandalised’ the billboard that normally advertises Ibiza’s infamous Cocoon club, complete with a cheeky portrait of the beaming pair. ‘The gallery should not end where the walls start,’ explains Rehberger. ‘The whole thing is about opening it up - opening up the idea of the gallery but also opening up the idea about the limits of oneself and the work that one makes. It is about realising how much one’s self exists in the other and how much the authored exists in yourself.’
Ibiza’s bacchants may be looking to go down the rabbit hole, but Gordon and Rehberger make a convincing case that the island has more to offer than bottomless booze and a bad hangover. It’s their compelling artworks that provide a welcome foil to Ibiza’s mindless debauchery.