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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Closed for installation
until June 7, 2024

Admission always free
13 Jun 14until7 Sep 14

Stefan Brüggemann

Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies

CAG Façade

A close up image of overlapping spray-painted words in red and black on a wooden surface. One phrase reads, “GLOBAL PRIVATE WEALTH RISES,” the other is fragmented and reads “HOW DO Y DEFINE IS.”

Stefan Brüggermann, Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies (detail), 2010. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris

Headlines & Last Lines in the Movies transforms the façade of the Contemporary Art Gallery, wooden cladding covering its frontage and south east corner. Resembling a construction site, the structure becomes the ground for the work; the title a precise description of itself.

In this new mural, Brüggemann wrote headlines from current newspapers, from local to global, in combination with excerpts of last lines from popular films. “Forget it Jake, its Chinatown” could be spray-painted next to “Enbridge Pipeline Rejected,” the juxtaposition of appropriated texts creating both a familiarity and an oddly appropriate pairing suggestive of narratives that may exist to connect current news items with scripted dialogue. With one text residing in the real, the other in the fictive, in combination they create a barrage of information that Brüggemann unifies into a totality of black text. The overlay forms a graphic field that is only partly legible, language creating an immersive installation that draws colloquial phrases into dense cacophonic arenas. The work seems declaratory, but what it is trying to communicate is drowned out by volume, intensity and opacity.

It is important that Brüggemann makes installations by hand, the time taken to transcribe them becoming a form of personalization, the act of writing as a means to externalize thought. The frenetic appearance might suggest the scrambled notes of someone trying to work through a complex problem or evoke the direct action of a graffiti political protest, the fragmented scribbling formally read as statements that urgently need to be expressed.

Despite the stylistic uniformity, phrases still register as individual fragments with multiple subjects. There is no cohesive meaning beyond the possible realization that a sentence came from either a film or the reporting of current affairs, but the sources, headlines and last lines, both function as summaries. A good headline gives a concise description of what’s in the subsequent article; it captures the reader’s attention, encouraging them to continue reading or more opportunistically to purchase the newspaper. And the last line of a movie can encapsulate what came before it, distilling the narrative into a single line.

“I get to live the rest of my life as a schnook” is a funny and ironic recap of the film Goodfellas, but does it still function when dislocated from its original context? Both headlines and last lines notionally represent a greater whole, yet Brüggemann disorients us, his production rendering text that is almost unreadable, questioning the way we encounter information through language. Individual phrases leap out to command our attention as we attempt to read and decipher words, yet the mural is at once like a protest, the many voices of the body politic, conflicting and cancelling each other, just so many things vying for our attention.


Stefan Brüggemann works primarily with text; his often humorous work takes a variety of forms from large graphic fields to imitations of bookworks. Solo exhibitions include Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2013); Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City (2011); Villa du Parc, Centre d´Art Contemporain, France (2010); Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2008); Frac Bourgogne, France (2008); I-20 Gallery, New York (2006) and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City (1999). He has contributed to various group exhibitions, including Confusion in the Vault, Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2013); An Exhibition (STEFAN BRÜGGEMANN, LAWRENCE WEINER, CAREY YOUNG), The Holden Gallery, Manchester Metropolitan University (2013); Tectonic, The Moving Museum, DXB Dubai (2013); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Social Sculpture, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Museé d´Art Moderne Contemporain, Genéve (2006); This Peaceful War, Tramway, Glasgow (2005); and Myself and My Surroundings, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1999). Key texts written on his work include “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Nicolas de Oliveira, and “Twelve Words, Nine Days” by Chris Kraus. He is represented by Yvon Lambert, Paris; Parra Romero Gallery, Madrid and Jonathan Viner, London.