HISTORY|BORIS BLANK|DIETER MEIER

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YELLOlogy

HISTORY|BORIS BLANK|DIETER MEIER

DIETER MEIER

Dieter Meier was born in 1945 in Zurich. In the 1980s, he first became known to the broader general public as part of the music duo YELLO, which is now considered one of the most influential electro-Pop acts per se. At the same time, Dieter Meier was active as a film and video clip director, and his music videos for YELLO emphatically defined the genre and were constantly on show on MTV. Far less well-known is Dieter Meier’s oeuvre as a concept and performance artist, starting as long ago as the late 1960s.

With his radical situationism, as absurd as it was humorous, Meier started to explore new spaces and scope for art. For a 1970 exhibition in Munich he spent 12 hours walking round the city, marking each minute where he went, stood or rested with stamped clock stickers. In Kunstmuseum Luzern visitors had to clock in and out, attesting to the time they had spent in any empty room. The intention was “that they had dedicated one or two minutes of their lives to me,” Meier says. At the ICA London Meier screened a film with the instructions that visitors for ten minutes please hold up the large white sheet of paper they had been given at the ticket office in front of their faces. “And that was the film,” comments Meier. In Munich, in a courtyard he constructed a large wooden cube, chose 30 people from the phonebook and invited them to watch him spending an hour in the cube – the action took place, but only one visitor came and watched.

For a photo project, in 1976 Meier shaped figures using icing sugar and molding putty, only to destroy them a little later. That same year, Meier exhibited 48 imaginary biographies in Zurich. But by then Meier had had enough of the “art race” and together with Boris Blank founded the YELLO duo. The influence of Dieter Meier’s early works is clearly discernible in YELLO’s music clips: For example, the molded figures (Meier called them “Lost sculptures”) resurface in the video for “Pinball Cha Cha” (1982).

Alongside his work as a musician and artist, Dieter Meier is a writer (Hermes Baby, Ammann Verlag, Zurich; Out of chaos, Edel Verlag Hamburg), author of children’s books (Windjo, Limmatverlag, Zurich; Oskar Tiger, Kein & Aber, Zurich) and filmmaker (81'000 Einheiten, Jetzt und Alles, Lightmaker). He has played pro poker, designed watches, and has an organic beef farm and winery in Argentina. He sells his products in Germany, the States, Switzerland and in his store for Argentine products in Zurich, Weinkontor “Ojo de Agua”.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg was showcasing the versatile oeuvre of Zurich artist and polymath Dieter Meier – for the first time in the form of a comprehensive museum show. The exhibition “Dieter Meier – works 1969-2011 and the YELLO years” ran from June 25 - September 11, 2011 at Sammlung Falckenberg Hamburg and will be shown in 2012 at ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. A catalogue, published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, includes essays by Harald Falckenberg, Stefan Zweifel, Max Dax and Peter Weibel and a DVD.