Blurred Boundaries: Made in Germany Zwei
The exhibition “Made in Germany Zwei” in Hanover reveals that the young art scene in Germany is international, yet is perfectly content merely to self-examine and look back.
“Do not enter”, reads the sign, despite the fact that one feels virtually drawn into the room. A number of high and wonderfully colourful curtains are draped so mysteriously and artistically one behind the other that one can hardly help but step through them – in excited anticipation of what might lie beyond. Kulisy is the name Ulla von Brandenburg has given to her installation, which attracts and repels in equal measures.
Does it mark the boundary line between two worlds? Between reality and illusion? Between everyday life and a game? By contrast, many of the other works on display at the Hanover exhibition Made in Germany Zwei (17 May until 19 August 2012) tend rather to blur the boundaries.
Cross-section and questioning content
In Made in Germany Zwei, art is allowed to remain entirely within its own domain. It is neither coerced into political actionism – like the recently ended 7th Berlin Biennale – nor challenged in an eco-feminist context – like at Documenta 13 in Kassel.
That said, it is no coincidence that Made in Germany Zwei is taking place at the same time as the Kassel world art exhibition, for the first exhibition five years ago already jumped on the latter’s bandwagon, as a result of which numerous international visitors travelled from Venice to Basel, Kassel, Münster and indeed Hanover. Even back then, the Sprengel Museum, the Kestnergesellschaft and the Kunstverein – which jointly organized the exhibition – wanted to show what the young art scene in Germany had to offer. In both instances, the exhibition proved highly popular.
This time, the collaboration which began in 2010 has become even closer and more complex. Nine curators visited studios all over Germany and selected 45 artists, 20 of them women. It comes as no surprise that more than three-quarters of the exhibitors give Berlin as one of their addresses or places of work, nor that they represent 13 different nationalities but grew up in Germany or moved there during or after their studies: from this perspective, the ambivalent exhibition title signals cosmopolitanism rather than regional differentiation.
Different points of access
The curators did not make life easy for themselves as far as the selection and presentation of the artists is concerned, as Michael Riedel’s black-and-white poster board testifies. The artist recorded planning talks held by the curators on an audiotape and produced a poster of the transcripts, thus turning them into both decoration and an art product for purchase.
The curators identified six subject areas that preoccupy the generation of 30- to 40-year-olds: namely “Medium as material”, “The past in the present”, “Narrativity”, “Networkings”, “Super-sensory” and “Spaces”. These structures – which in any case overlap – do not cause rifts in the exhibition, however, but are reserved to catalogue essays. What is more, the three buildings and the route that interconnects them demand different points of access. A vigorous walk through what feels like Germany’s longest shopping avenue brings a touch of everyday reality into the scenario.
The invented and the factual
References to reality are to be found relatively rarely in the artworks featured at Made in Germany Zwei. Where they do exist, they tend to lose themselves in formal aspects. This is evident, for example, in Cyprien Gaillard’s series of Polaroids featuring cracks in the road, which is presented under multiple photo mounts and in object-like Perspex frames. Or in the case of Max Frisinger, who incorporated an installation into the staircase of the Kunstverein that looks like a huge spider’s web. Caught up in the web are all kinds of things the artist discovered on the streets of Hanover.
Even the smell of hay in the Sprengel Museum is real. It comes from the reliefs plaited out of this natural material by Olaf Holzapfel with Polish farmers. His great sculpture made of wooden beams is a reference to the traditional half-timbered method of construction: what originally was a supporting construction is now art itself.
Visitors are allowed to walk carefully through Alicja Kwade’s beautiful and poetic room installation comprising 303 clock weights hanging from ceiling to floor. The complex environments created by Reynold Reynolds, Dirk Dietrich Hennig and Simon Fujiwara draw visitors into an apparently unresolvable entanglement of the invented and the factual.
“Chinese whispers” and emptiness
Watching Omer Fast’s 65-minute recording of a staged talk show gives visitors the opportunity to experience how subjective perception and memory are: what happens when several people tell the same story? Just like in the children’s game of “Chinese whispers”, the story becomes unrecognizable by the end. Thus the Israeli artist repeatedly questions the evidential character of information.
On an endless video, a master of ceremonies announces sensational yet completely absurd attractions with powerful eloquence. Photographer Sven Johne combines this footage with a series of images which address social realities in a very direct manner. Johne accompanied a travelling circus to over 50 towns and villages and photographed the sites which the circus had briefly occupied and had just left again. Beyond the churned-up emptiness in the foreground of the pictures, the state of the villages and landscapes in the background can be clearly seen.
Most of the works exhibited this year in Hanover are not quite so multi-layered. They concern above all formal qualities, to which end historical references are used in very many cases. Provocative gestures are taboo.
works as an art scholar, journalist and author in Leipzig.
Translation: Chris Cave
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
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