Up until April 5, 2009 Kunstverein in Cologne is showcasing an exhibition that could well be one of the most worthwhile excursions fans or creators of things that in any way are related to beauty, even if it is uneven, distorted, or camouflaged in some way. In Cologne one gets an insight into the shimmering beauty a Belgian record label created in the 1980s that until today has largely gone unnoticed by the general public.
"Les Disques du Crépuscule" brought out cool New Wave and self-indulgent songs, sugar sweet pop and minimalist compositions by Gavin Bryars and Tim Mertens, and devoted entire compilations to the work of Margerite Duras, only to cast its glance to the charts again. In short: the label had style. And this style, this obstinate insistence on refinement and orchestration defined its entire image. Chief designer Benoît Hennebert invented a visual universe of carefully selected modular components somewhere between elegant 1950s jazz covers and movie posters advertising global adventure.
With a Crépuscule record once could, indeed still can, add a touch of beauty to the everyday world that for just one moment makes everything seem a little larger than life: . The sun shining into the tiny apartment for a moment has a golden and more cinematic glow, while the full ashtray becomes a symbol of deep thoughts, and perhaps one ought to go out for an ice meal again, best of all somewhere by the sea. When's the next flight? The right Crépuscule record transforms any shack into a palace and this was precisely the exciting potential this form of aesthetics conveyed. The wonderfully reduced graphics, photography conjuring up a cosmopolitan lifestyle, not to mention Benoît Hennebert's elegant typography were not from the world of excess. Wealth and decadence were completely out of sight and it was a defiant beauty that made it to the light of day from an intertwined Brussels Bohemia.
It is a beauty that even today is still worth going in search of, one which may well have smell of sun-bathed tiles, fine wood, a wee wisp of tobacco and a soft spring breeze, or maybe of dirt, exhaust, tar and garbage. In that case, though, an elegantly dressed singer or a prominent producer will be bound to be scurrying through it all, heading somewhere, a stack of beauty tucked under their arm... For the first time in Cologne there is an exquisite selection of original artworks, cover designs and posters from the label's heyday on display.
Oliver Tepel, himself a music journalist and Crépuscule fan, is the exhibition's curator. Tepel not only managed to convince Crépuscule designer Benoît Hennebert, who now leads a secluded life, to make available rare designs and studies, he also confronts this historical material with a number of contemporary artistic positions in a highly fruitful way; among others Lucy McKenzie, Enrico David, Julian Göthe, Hanna Schwarz, Christian Flamm, Julia Horstmann, Detlef Weinrich and myself, Claus Richter, demonstrate their enthusiasm for major design output of this small Belgian label.
Après Crépuscule - Na Schmering - After Twilight - Nach Dämmerung
Group and archive exhibitions with contributions by J.Louis Again, Michael Bracewell, Enrico David, Devine & Griffiths, Christian Flamm, Julian Göthe, Benoît Hennebert, Julia Horstmann, Linder, Lucy McKenzie, Claus Richter, Hanna Schwarz, Claude Stassart, Lawrence Weiner, Detlef Weinrich, Denyse Willem
February 2, 2009 - April 5, 2009