St Paul st Gallery AUT

Past Exhibitions

The Fourth Wall

Clemens von Wedemeyer

24 February 2012 - 4 April 2012


The Fourth Wall: roomsheet


Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view, 2012.

Clemens von Wedemeyer's The Fourth Wall, an ambitious film-based installation, revolves around first encounters such as those between anthropologist and subject, actor and audience. Commissioned by the Barbican, London in 2009, the starting point of the work is the Philippine group called the Tasaday who were allegedly first ‘discovered’ in the rain forests of Mindanao by Western explorers in 1971.

At the heart of the Tasaday story is the unanswerable question of the credibility of discovering a Stone Age society in 1971. The sensational story of the discovery of a community of isolated and untouched 'gentle savages' was brought into question several years later. Access to the Tasaday had been blocked by the Marcos government for 15 years, when in 1986 a journalist seeking the group visited their dwelling caves and found them abandoned. He found the Tasaday people nearby, now inhabiting houses and wearing western clothing. Was their initial discovery a hoax or had these people adapted to contemporary society in the intervening years?

In The Fourth Wall the unknowable truth about the Tasaday group is further complicated through the intermingling of documentary and archival material with von Wedemeyer's films The Gentle Ones and Against Death. Both of these films were created onsite at the Barbican for the first exhibition. Through the films von Wedemeyer applies the concept of first contact to the fourth wall – the imaginary divide in theatre between actors and viewers that enables a suspension of disbelief, that falls apart once actors and audience make contact. Here, the collapse of the fourth wall is compared, metaphorically, to the ‘first contact’ between cultures and peoples and used to generate questions around how we as a society approach the unknown.

Clemens von Wedemeyer was born in 1974 in Göttingen, Germany. He lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited at the Moscow Biennial in 2005 and at the Berlin Biennial in 2006. Solo exhibitions include Kölnischer Kunstverein and MoMA PS1, New York, in 2006, the Barbican Art Centre London in 2009 and the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 2011. In 2012 von Wedemeyer will be showing work in documenta13, and The Fourth Wall will be exhibited in the Paris Triennale.

The Fourth Wall was commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery, London in 2009. The exhibition is brought to New Zealand by ST PAUL St Gallery and Dunedin Public Art Gallery with assistance from the Goethe Institut, and facilitated by former ST PAUL St Gallery director Leonhard Emmerling.

Tuesday 28 February, 6pm: Dr. Tom Ryan, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Waikato University in conversation with Clemens von Wedemeyer. Facilitated by Dr. Leonhard Emmerling.


Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view

Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view

Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view

Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view

Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view

Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Fourth Wall, installation view