Hanne Darboven, a first-generation conceptual artist best known for her large-scale geometric drawings and numerical series stated that “Art is a mixture between concept and discipline” – a combination reflected in the current Museo Reina Sofia exhibition, The Order and Time of Things: The Home Studio of Hanne Darboven.
Where the artist’s work displays an obsession with precision, order and structure, the mélange of objects amassed in her family home in Am Burgberg – where she lived and worked her entire life – suggest another, polar opposite, side to her personality: chaos in the rooms, order on the walls.
With carnival games, soft toys, taxidermy, mannequins, musical instruments, souvenirs from all corners of the world, tiny boats and enormous hanging dinosaurs, this ‘studio’ is more akin to a 16th century Cabinet of Curiosities or Wonder Room. Rather than present a chronology of Darboven’s life, the exhibit is a presentation at once of the artist’s seemingly conflicting psychologies in life and work – perhaps providing a reconsideration of her numerical writing, which was at its core an obsessive method of calendaring to fight lost time, the degeneration of memory, and to record and solidify experience.
At Reina Sofia, amongst the reconstructed madness of her home studio, Darboven’s work becomes an attempt to reduce the unpredictable and impulsive into diagrams and grids, the three-dimensional world into silent graphite scrawls on squared paper.