Ruth May

Dirk Stewen

Tony Swain


Ah ! That huge concert-audience, those thirty, forty thousand believers, there, and everywhere, inflamed with curiosity, passion or faith, bestirring themselves, jostling one another, rising up on tip-toe to see the better! The clamor of a human sea arose, the crowd was as gay and familiar as if it had found itself in some heavenly theatre where it was allowable for one to chat aloud and recreate oneself with the spectacle of a religious pomp!

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Rome, Chapter 7

On the Wednesday preceding the mid-Lent Thursday, a great charity bazaar was held at the Duvillard mansion, for the benefit of the Asylum of the Invalids of Labour. The ground-floor reception rooms, three spacious Louis Seize salons, whose windows overlooked the bare and solemn courtyard, were given up to the swarm of purchasers, five thousand admission cards having been distributed among all sections of Parisian society. And the opening of the bombarded mansion in this wise to thousands of visitors was regarded as quite an event, a real manifestation, although some people whispered that the Rue Godot-de-Mauroy and the adjacent streets were guarded by quite an army of police agents.

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Paris, Chapter 1


The novelist, claimed Zola, is a scientist who places characters and milieu together and observes the reaction produced. Zola argued that just as science is on the way to explaining the laws of the physical world, novelists could and should do very much the same by explaining the laws of human behaviour. Zola redefined Naturalism as ”Nature seen through a temperament“. The steps which he attempted to follow in his experimental method to the writing of novels were observation of the subject of inquiry supported by documentation, the experiment itself, i.e. the bringing together of various substances or the introduction of a catalyst and the observation of the results of the experiment.

The ongoing international performance art and exhibition series THE THREE CITIES is a clinically observed tale of the contemporary artworld. The project involves three curators who live and work in different European cities (GYONATA BONVICINI in London, ANNA-CATHARINA GEBBERS in Berlin and PAOLO ZANI in Milan). So far each of the three curators asked the other two to come to his or her home town and organise a joint exhibition at a temporary venue and a joint “exhibition in print” in a local magazine. The venues and magazines reflect the specific features of each city and at the same time demonstrate their own peculiarities, which in turn influence the selection of the different artists invited to participate and the works they present. Venues and magazines were chosen because they can indeed be taken both as a comment upon and approbation of a highly privileged vantage point for observing the subject of inquiry. The exhibitions are held during temporary art events that attract visitors from all over the world, and can thus also be read as a metaphor for the hype currently surrounding the art world. The magazine projects both reflect and play with the power of the media in this game: Instead of only being an object of documentation, of hype or of craving for sensation the artists use the magazines as material for their work.

Back issues of LIEBLING became physical substance for all works shown in this exhibition in print published in LIEBLING. And the physical space of an exhibition has been transferred onto the pages of the magazine. Exhibition space and media skills merge and are utilised by the artists in two respects -- in terms of material and in terms of context.

The doctor was waiting for the young priest outside the Verification Office, in front of which a compact and feverish crowd of pilgrims was assembled, waylaying and questioning the patients who went in, and acclaiming them as they came out whenever the news spread of any miracle, such as the restoration of some blind man’s sight, some deaf woman’s hearing, or some paralytic’s power of motion.

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Lourdes, Chapter 4

That afternoon, however, Doctor Bonamy, who never sat down, busy as he was conducting the proceedings and questioning the patients, reserved most of his attention for a short fair-haired man, a writer of some talent who contributed to one of the most widely read Paris newspaper, and who in the course of a holiday tour, had by chance reached Lourdes that morning. Was not this an unbeliever whom it might be possible to convert, whose influence it would be desirable to gain for advertisement’s sake?

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Lourdes, Chapter 4

Of course there were no more fetes, no more evenings at the theatre, no more flirtations. But above everything else Dario missed the Corso and suffered despairingly at no longer seeing or learning anything by watching the procession of Roman society from four to five each afternoon.

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Rome, Chapter 9

Hereabouts there was not even a rumble of wheels, or an echo of the panting breath of Paris, which one heard on the other side of the height of Montmartre. The deep silence and sleepy peacefulness were suggestive of some distant provincial town.

Emile Zola, Les Trois Villes, Paris, Chapter 2



Ten artists were invited to exhibit works in a magazine whose back issues became material for the works on display. The physical space of an exhibition is transfered onto the pages of a magazine and the magazine becomes material for the artist and suits his purpose. Exhibition space and media-skills merge, and are utilised by the artists in terms of material and in terms of context.

Curated by Gyonata Bonvicini, Anna-Catharina Gebbers and Paolo Zani

Ulla von Brandenburg

Ruth May