Aleksandra Mir

Triumph

By Max Hollein
Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2009

Preface to the catalogue (excerpt)

Triumph, Aleksandra Mir's new exhibition project for the Schirn Kunsthalle, consists of 2,529 sporting trophies. Mir started the project by placing an advert in a Sicilian daily paper looking for this popular yet coveted object. Neatly cleaned, polished and individually photographed, the trophies are now presented separately on plinths – while others are arranged in groups on the floor, carelessly pushed into the corner as if they were faulty examples that did not make the grade, or some inert mass of metal and shine.

Trophies are indeed mass-produced articles, however, each one here has been individualised by an engraving, and tells a personal story. Triumph is an archive of popular culture and part of a contemporary history that appears to be as fleeting as the sheen of the lauded metal cup. The thousands of trophies recall the ‘echo of hands clapping and the image of vigorous young bodies’, as Mir says, mirroring the transitoriness of victory and youth, which can be neither halted nor kept. Most trophies end up being thrown out and thus what they remember is lost, though it is still engraved on their front. They are like holiday snaps that fade over time and cannot preserve the adventures and experiences forever.

Aleksandra Mir aims for this apparently dramatic moment when letting go of the past – of a personal and intimate history contained in this seemingly platonic vessel – prevails, and the trophy, and the memories it represents, are discarded to make room for something new. After all, the trophy concerns achievements, however important or insignificant, that are each personal, and which belong to the winner for the rest of their life. Distance, especially that of time, diminishes the drama, and shifts the unique success into a larger social surrounding, where numerous similar events can be found. That transition alone, ultimately, determines every phenomenon’s history.