Katharina Alsen

The Art of the Intimate. Enacting Small-Scale Art Encounters

The notion of ‘intimacy’ has various facets. Deriving from the Latin superlative ‘intimus’, it is literally to be translated as ‘the inmost’ – indicating spatial concepts of closeness and small-scale arrangement. While it functions in a rather pre-paradigmatic way in today’s semantics, there has been a distinct artistic discourse at the beginning of the 20th of ‘intimacy’ as its programmatic key term. With the concept of an ‘intimate theatre’, first proclaimed by August Strindberg in his manifesto-like preface for the play Miss Julie, a newly arranged form of (theatre or interior) display and spectatorship was composed by means of miniaturisation and internalisation.

Against this theoretical background, my paper aims to focus on the exhibition One on One (2012) at KW Institute for Contemporary Art and its conceptual approach towards forming an array of ‘intimate art display’. The curatorial concept allows for an almost ‘inter-personal’ encounter of one spectator and one artwork in a separated, enclosed room for a self- chosen period of time. The majority of works indicate a certain degree of sensitive-ness for the act of ‘gazing’ as a potentially intruding, yet intimidating operation of entering the zone of privacy. The torturing intimate gaze is implicated as well as the general paradox of ‘arranged intimacy’.