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  Michael Graeve


Michael Graeve CV (PDF)

In Combination
27 August to 20 September 2008


The Aquarium


While an obsession with aquariums faded in mid-youth, one concept continues to haunt me like unfinished business. It's the technique of creating a permanently-sealed aquarium. You see: Given the right fish and insects and snails and oxygen and carbon dioxide and plants and sunlight and air and water and gravel and temperatures – and clearly much else – one can completely seal the thing. And then a cycle of tension and release and uptake and downtake and oxygen production and carbon dioxide production and reproduction and birth and death and decay – and clearly much else – will take place in perpetuity. Of sorts.


The Farm

Without really reflecting on the last time that I might have been on a farm, I'd say that the last time I was regularly on a farm would have been during my fruit-picking days in late youth. When I went fruit-picking over four consecutive summers I was taught four important facts:

  1. Madonna is a good musician because she's got great tits.
  2. Michael Jackson is a great musician because he earns a lot of money.
  3. Sailboarding is not a sport because you can't win.
  4. You stop work when there are more than three raindrops in the space of a matchbox.


Sometime during the same period I was to read the following passage written about Blinky Palermo and Imi Knoebel:


"Palermo is a craftsman, moving on from one commission to the next and assembling individual pieces with the utmost care; by contrast Imi Knoebel pays his objects just so much attention as they need in order to exist – the attention that a farmer devotes to the separate departments of work on his land. Imi Knoebel treats his work like a farm, on which many different activities are kept going with great skill. Dairy cattle, therefore butter and cheese; perhaps some bulls for breeding; young stock; perhaps a few oxen and pigs; grass for pasture and winter feed; cereal crops of various kinds; woodland for winter felling; any number of fruit trees, and therefore fruit juice and liquor; any amount of chickens and geese; a dog and a couple of cats; perhaps a fine horse; pigeons on the roof; a mill on the stream; and a quarry by the roadside.1"


The problem is, if there indeed is a problem, that I still don't know which of these wonderful models of activity I identify with most closely. And that not-knowing is a pleasure.
And the other problem is, if there indeed is a problem, that no one ever could answer my question: Over what duration should the three raindrops fall into the matchbox, in order to necessitate leaving the shelter of the trees for that of the car? Three drops over an hour? Three drops over a minute? Three drops over a day?
It occurs to me now that I wasn't fruit picking on a farm at all. I was fruit picking in a monoculture. There were only apples. No wonder then that the relationship between space and duration was never clearly articulated, since for that to occur you would require at least two points of reference! Which in turn makes me think that a duoculture would have to be the most basic functional proposition. Three cultures might be better still!

Michael Graeve
August 2008


Michael Graeve artist’s talk in the gallery on Saturday, 20 September 2008, at 4.00 p.m.

1. Bumiller, Rudolf. Working with Success – Working with Unsuccess. Parkett. Issue 32, 1992. p 40.



Michael Graeve 2007 Work

Michael Graeve 2009 Exhibition
Michael Graeve 2011 Exhibition

Michael Graeve 2013 Exhibition