The installation The Life of Flies was built in the Kunstverein in Cologne in January 1992. The long space of the Kunstverein is divided into 4 halls which form a suite.
In 1992, the Art Academy in Vienna celebrated its 250th anniversary, and a few artists were asked to select a few paintings of the classical masters that were hanging in the museum of the Academy and to think up their own ‘masterpieces’ that would go well with these works. I selected two landscapes by Ruisdael (my favorite artist) and one landscape by Hobbema and hung them on the wall left of the entrance in a specially constructed dwelling which in appearance imitated a museum space: dark green walls, wooden panels along the walls. But everything looked genuinely fake: the panels, the parquet floor made of plastic, the poorly painted walls; and to complete the look, the ceiling was made of a dark fabric stretched across the space. Opposite the paintings of Ruisdael and Hobbema, I hung my own Three Russian Paintings with commentaries. According to my thinking, these were to comprise a ‘dialogue’: there were landscapes on both walls, of Holland on one wall, of Russia on the other (of course, in a ‘conceptual’ rendering, so to speak). Both groups were behind barriers. Near the ‘Russian’ side stood a table with a text to make it possible to figure out the ‘conceptual’ meaning … But all of this was slightly out of place because of the barrier and the table with chairs. The way the paintings were hung was also a bit abnormal: all of this, of course, ensured that these four virtually empty brown boards could not lead to anything good in terms of ‘a meeting with a classic’ in ‘such a place’ and in such an arrangement. A dialogue simply could not take place.