• Solo Exhibition: Genoveva Filipovic – Seufzer, 27.3. – 4.7.2021

    We are pleased to welcome you back. The exhibition is prolonged until July 4, 2021. Please note to the current applicable corona protection measures.

    At the time of writing this text, it cannot be assumed that visitors will be able to enter the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Die Brücke, in the near future and that the exhibition Bridge of Sigh will find any audience at all. Genoveva Filipovic’s exhibition will possibly be seen only from outside.

    “…If some ill luck forced him to speak, he managed to say only the most ridiculous things. Worse yet, he saw how absurdly he was behaving, and then exaggerated it still further; but what he did not see was the expression in his eyes; they were so beautiful and revealed such a fervent soul that, just as a good actor does, they gave charming significance to words that had none… he never said anything worth saying except when, distracted by some unforeseen event, he wasn’t trying to turn a well-phrased compliment.”
    Stendhal, The Red and the Black

    I made cactuses and placed them in a row. 
    After this work was completed, I changed the facial expression of each cactus so that, I thought, it might elicit a sigh.
    When that proved too difficult, I did this: I claimed that I was changing the facial expression of each cactus so that, I thought, it might elicit a sigh. But I inserted smiles instead.

    Then I try to imagine how it would be to ‘act out’ this scene.

    Very Ralph 
    The Artist wants no Erklärungsbrücken

    Genoveva Filipovic (*1986 in Frankfurt am Main) lives in New York and currently in Cologne. She studied at the HfG in Offenbach am Main and at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste – Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main (until 2013). Her works have recently been shown at Galleria Federico Vavassori in Milan (2019), Kunsthalle Zurich (2019), Goton in Paris (2018), Dead Ends in New York (2016), Vilma Gold in London (2016), and Neue Alte Brücke in Frankfurt am Main (2014).

    The exhibition is supported by:

  • Exhibition: Jahresgaben 2020, 17.11.2020 – 31.1.2021
    Lena Anouk Philipp: Ums Mark kreisen 2017.

    We are pleased to present the Jahresgaben 2020 (annual editions) online for now starting Tuesday, November 17. Works by both young and established artists exclusively produced or donated for the Kunstverein are available: 

    John Baldessari, Kenneth Bergfeld, Tom Burr, Hanne Darboven, Dunja Herzog, Dorothy Iannone, Emma LaMorte, Marcel Odenbach, Lena Anouk Philipp, Luc Tuymans, Jeff Wall 

    By purchasing a Jahresgabe, you are making an important contribution to the support of contemporary art and artists and to the work of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Thank you very much!

    Orders for the 2020 Jahresgaben can be placed in writing from November 17, 2020 up to and including January 6, 2021. If more orders are received than copies are available, the decision will be made by lot. The lottery will take place on January 7, 2021.
    Please note that the Jahresgaben can only be purchased by members of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. The complete ordering procedure can be found here.

    Currently and until January 31, 2021, the Kölnischer Kunstverein will remain closed according to the Corona Protection Regulation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. As soon as we can open our doors again for visitors, the Jahresgaben will be on display in an exhibition on the 2nd floor. 

    We will keep you updated with news about the reopening and our program via our website and newsletter.

    We look forward to seeing you soon again!

    Lena Anouk Philipp: Ums Mark kreisen 2017.
    Jahresgaben 2020, Kölnischer Kunstverein.

  • Exhibition: THE KÖLN CONCERT – Dorothy Iannone & Juliette Blightman, 31.10.2020 – 7.3.2021
    Dorothy Iannone: (Ta)Rot Pack, 2016, Double-sided laser copies mounted on cardboard, from 54 original drawings from 1968/69. 27 × (26,5 × 20 cm). Courtesy Air de Paris, Romainville. // Juliette Blightman: Stages of Seed Development, 2020, pencil on paper, photographic print, gouache, 28 × (27,4 × 20,8 cm). Courtesy Juliette Blightman and Arcadia Missa, London.

    Opening on Friday, 30.10.2020, 3 pm – 9 pm

    ‘Image higher than angels: The Köln Concert’
    A text by Amelia Stein

    Life has no outside, say the psyche-celestial Ladies of Liberty with their microphones, say the fulgent cacti fountains, says the blooming pussy flower with an unmistakable wink. 
    This is the pact The Köln Concert stages with its audience, among its works, between its artists, Juliette Blightman (*1980) and Dorothy Iannone (*1933), who draw down time into all-encompassing symbologies of love, sex, care, work, autonomy, joy and other selfhoods. When I say symbol, I mean images that speak broadly and concentrate personally, that are partly mnemonic and partly divinatory, in which breakfast lives alongside Art Nouveau and narrative takes the place of noses. In The Köln Concert, forms, figures, messages layer in counterpoint, a leitmotif of sorts, the coexistence of harmony and clash played by Blightman and Iannone so that they too may listen. 
    Not that everything is practice but that practice reticulates: Blightman made the fountains in her stepfather’s garage, perhaps with her young daughter’s help. It is possible to imagine their visit to the hardware store to select the paint, a lurid yet somehow utilitarian green. Here in the world of handy things, also misappropriation, high jinks, making do, the phalluses’ gentle eruptions rely on whatever energy they can gather via solar panels; when stilled, they earnestly hold court as choruses performing in the rounds of paddling pools. Something’s always growing, which is to say requiring tending, in Blightman’s work. Children and plants, but also limitations, perspective, desire, sense of self: care is a matter of patterning, of understanding subject and process as one and the same. ‘Daughter’ is a process; so is ‘body’, so is ‘home’. The pencil and guache works in Stages of Seed Development (2020) appear at first as windows until their serialized arrangement suggests something more vociferous, perhaps phrases, at once contingent and complete.  
    These works in particular speak, sing, move to their muse, (Ta)Rot Pack (2016/1968-69), Iannone’s ecstatic allegory of her life with Dieter Roth, which offers some phrases of its own: ‘This Card Brings a Brief Respite Maybe’, says a nude Roth wandering a trippy Swiss path; ‘This Card Brings What Everyone Wants’, say the adorned lovers in tantric embrace. Iannone has said that this ability—to bring things—is the only way her cards reflect the (other) tarot. I would venture another: that the (Ta)Rot Pack, like Blightman’s Stages, celebrates a sense of everyday consequence that is not without a cosmic sense of humor. 

    Which may have something to do with itinerancy, an underlying cadence here. These works spring from places both loved and abided, and from the need amid frequent departures to sometimes return—to the United States, for instance, where Iannone and her Ladies of Liberty were born, to Germany, where Blightman first raised, and first painted, her daughter, and to the Rhineland specifically, where Iannone lived with Roth and began the (Ta)Rot Pack in the late 1960s. Image is how to get there: The Story Of Bern (Or) Showing Colors (1970), originally an artist book, shown in The Köln Concert as a diaporama, tells that highly generative periods are often live with contention and struggle. And that at the end of it all, when we finally surface, we can know only through reflection that the triumphal arc stands somewhere in the distance. 

    In the course of the exhibition, a joint publication will be produced.  

    The presentation at the Kölnischer Kunstverein is a continuation of the exhibition Prologue at Arcadia Missa Gallery this year. A second version of the exhibition will open at Vleeshal in Middelburg, The Netherlands, in April 2021.

    Thanks to: Air de Paris, Romainville; Arcadia Missa, London; Peres Projects, Berlin; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam; Collection  Alexander Schröder, Berlin; Roger Hobbs; Kentaurus, Cologne

    The exhibition is supported by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Dunja Herzog – Meanwhile, 5.9. – 18.10.2020
    Dunja Herzog, 2020, Foto: André Fuchs.

    With the solo exhibition Meanwhile by Dunja Herzog, the Kölnischer Kunstverein is realizing a comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work, accompanied by a program of film screenings, artist talks, performance, children’s workshop and a guided tour of the Cologne-based Women’s History Society. Various elements and themes of different temporalities and backgrounds are brought together in a site-specific installation in which they coexist and relate to one another.

    The exhibition is a continuation of the examination of the history of the copper trade, as it is dealt with by the artist in particular in the project Red Gold and its focus on the omnipresent systematic exploitation of the global capitalist project, furthering the investigation with new work produced for the exhibition. In doing so, she looks back to the more distant past: to the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age, to the history of witch-hunting and copper production in Europe (e.g. by reproducing a 16th century woodcut by Georg Agricola depicting mines for copper mining, as well as a witches’ dance on the Blocksberg in the Harz Mountains). Alongside these are references to mechanisms of commercial profit in order to visualize today’s globally operating economic systems, and considerations of the role of women and reproduction in the transition to capitalism. Her personal background as a Swiss woman is essential in this context. Women’s voting rights in Switzerland, one of the last European countries to institute such rights, only became effective in 1971 (in the canton of Appenzell even only from 1990); another aspect is Switzerland’s role in the system of imperial exploitation.

    Not least of all, the material copper is one of the most important global economic indicators with its main trading center in Switzerland since 2011; the five largest Swiss companies are active in raw materials trading. In a new video work by the artist, a geographic and temporal arc is drawn from the Copperbelt in Zambia (a region with the most important copper mining area in Africa, where the Swiss company Glencore also operates mines) to a copper mine in the Harz Mountains, where the largest copper deposit in Germany once existed. At a depth of 165 meters, a film has been produced in Harz, showing the ceiling of a tunnel illuminated by light whilst driving out of the mine—a retreat from the mine and the overexploitation of both nature and labor that was once practiced there. For the artist, questions of resources, mining, exploitation and trade are central: How did it come about that cultural history in Europe transitioned from a reverence for nature, to its exploitation, and then, in the “logic of exploitation”, was exported from Europe to the whole world?

    A world where violence, foreign domination and profit prevail and our relationship to the earth, or how it is used and abused, is seen by the artist as synonymous with how bodies and their emotional “landscapes” are dealt with. The more resources, including copper—without which our contemporary digital world is inconceivable—are mined, the more the search for or connection to inner resources seems relevant.

    These various themes and their associated stories, which almost always speak of violence, are not necessarily addressed directly in the exhibition or reproduced. Rather, they are kept present through the materials enlisted, by relating to their origin, their use, their historical relevance, their development and the trade routes that have shaped our society very physically over time. Thus, for the exhibition, baskets made of copper wire from electronic scrap have been created in collaboration with basket makers from the Republic of Benin in Lagos, a city that belongs to one of the largest electronic dumping sites in West Africa; not only to detach the material from one value chain and transpose it into another, but to simultaneously pay homage to the women of Nigeria and Zambia, who made significant contributions to the independence of both countries. These colonial legacies seem particularly relevant to the building of the Kölnischer Kunstverein itself, since it was the seat of the British Council – the so called “Die Brücke” (The Bridge)—in the enduring colonial period of the British, and its proposition of a “bridge” to the world after the Second World War.

    The artist creates a space, in a certain sense a “third space”, in which a larger spectrum of stories and their complex interrelations with matter, material and their transformation and relationship to people can be experienced, and other perspectives made possible. From the materials and plants that are addressed, she extracts, in a way, the essence of their inherent energies and logics, makes them physically perceptible and thus ultimately also calls upon their nourishing properties.

    The two editions Sea field and Death of Nature will be published on the occasion of this exhibition.

    Dunja Herzog (*1976 in Basel, Switzerland) lived last year in Lagos, Nigeria, where she created some of the work presented at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Her works were shown at the Kunstverein Göttingen; Swiss Art Awards, Basel (both 2018); Lagos Biennale, Lagos, Nigeria (2017); BLOK art space, Istanbul; 1646, Den Haag (all 2016); New Bretagne / Belle Air, Essen and at MAXXI Museum, Rome (both 2015), among others.

    Curator: Nikola Dietrich

    With kindly support of:

  • Solo Exhibition: Emma LaMorte – Aussicht, 5.9. – 18.10.2020
    Emma LaMorte, 2020.

    In her first institutional solo exhibition, Emma LaMorte takes on the architecture of the Kölnischer Kunstverein: With her textile works, performances, texts and installations, she reacts to given spaces and architectural structures in order to supplement, alienate or conceal them. In the Studio, a project room with an atrium on the second floor of the building, the artist produces an expansive quilted and sewn textile work. In reference to the location, she recreates elements of the real exterior space, integrates them into a fictional landscape backdrop and creates an inversion of inside and outside.

    The four-part work series consisting of a total of eleven panels shows a rocky sea coast and a pastoral scene at four different times of day, varying in lighting mood and colour. Her motifs are based on a fascination for gothic, fantasy, kitsch, fetish, and nature romanticism. The series of works Aussicht (2020) dispenses with the figurative in favour of an allegorical landscape depiction in which the position of the viewer is that of a 360 degree perspective on an observation tower. The preoccupation with the view—the yearning look outside into the distance or the future—is a recurring subject in fine art and literature, especially at the time of German Romanticism, and immediately evokes the visual world of Caspar David Friedrichs.

    The collages on stretcher frames borrowed from patchwork elude a simple classification as “textile art”: due to the rough and improvised processing, the variety of form language, haptics, and motifs as well as the nostalgic aesthetics appear exceptionally space- and timeless and are located in a dichotomy between absolute present and historicity. At the same time, the textile material is part of a craft traditionally associated with women. In her examination of economic issues, Emma LaMorte examines historically shaped gender-specific divisions of labor (emotional labor, caretaking, domesticity, household, motherhood on the one hand, monetary labor, career, profiling and prestige on the other) as well as the discrepancy between their respective values and recognition in society. Both in her medial and content-related work on traditional, reactionary gender roles, the artist looks at the mechanisms of public and private space that consolidate and maintain them: patriarchal infrastructures, discriminating labor economies, structural sexism and violence.

    An artist book has been published in the context of the exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein with texts by the artist Rosa Aiello and images of the exhibited works (graphic: Thomas Spallek). The text medium is an integral part of Emma LaMorte’s practice and expands the scenographic backdrop of improvised quilting techniques with narratives. The repetition of the wall panels can be found as a stylistic device in the texts of Aiello. The daily rhythm and sequence describe a domestic routine in which temporality is variably extended or shortened. Emma LaMorte questions how civilization and social structures are formed and shaped—and how they are destroyed again—and creates a vision of the future that can be promising or hopeless.

    The exhibition is accompanied by a public program consisting of a reading, a lecture performance, a children‘s workshop, a tarot workshop, and a radio show by various guests, among them the artists Rosa Aiello, Bitsy Knox, Benjamin Marvin, the author Jessa Crispin and the musician Laura Sparrow.

    Emma LaMorte (*1984 in Victoria B.C., Canada) lives and works in Berlin. She received a Master of Fine Arts at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden. Recent solo presentations of her work have been shown at Galleri Thomassen in Gothenburg (2020, together with Anders Johansson), Gärtnergasse in Vienna (2019, together with Benjamin Marvin), Stadium (2018) and Ashley (2017), both in Berlin, as well as in group exhibitions at Polansky in Prague (2019), Braunsfelder in Cologne (2018), Sm in Marseille (2018), Hotdock in Bratislava (2018), INDUSTRA in Brno (2018) and Decad in Berlin (2018).

    Curator: Miriam Bettin

    The exhibition is part of Canada’s cultural programme as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020. It is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada.

    With kindly support of:

  • Solo Exhibition: Tony Conrad, 15.2. – 12.7.2020
    Tony Conrad: Yellow TV, February 3, 1973, Courtesy: Tony Conrad Estate und Greene Naftali, New York

    Opening: Friday, February 14, 7 pm
    9 pm Film screening Tony Conrad “The Flicker”, 1966, 16mm film, b/w, 30 min

    Tony Conrad (1940-2016) is an experimental artist and a key figure for media artists such as Tony Oursler or Mike Kelley. As a violinist, he was one of the co-founders of Minimal Music and a pioneer of drone music, together with La Monte Young and John Cale. As a central figure of the avant-garde and with a career lasting over six decades, his work radiates beyond America. With this exhibition it will be presented to the European audience, in all its complexity, after his participation at documenta 5. With his first movie “The Flicker” (1966) he created an icon of structural film. His musical work—in composition, performances, and self-made musical instruments—is inevitably associated with his work as a visual artist.

    The Kölnischer Kunstverein is realizing the first large-scale exhibition, performance and music series in Germany honoring Tony Conrad’s artistic work. It succeeds a retrospective at the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (2018/19). As a central figure of the avant-garde, Conrad didn‘t only gain recognition for his contribution to minimalist music and structural film in the 1960s, due to his pioneering role as violinist. Instead he also set the tone for various cultural fields, including rock music and public television. Conrad’s first film, “The Flicker” (1966), a stroboscopic experiment well-known for his assault on the cinematic medium and the senses of his audience, soon led to the projects in which he treated film as sculptural and performative material. In “Sukiyaki Film” (1973) for example Conrad brought shortly fried film on the screen and in in his “Yellow Movies” from 1972/73 he painted paper surfaces with cheap paint and presented them as slowly changing films. He paved the way for drone music and influenced the founding of Velvet Underground. At the same time, Conrad was a combative critic of the media and their monitoring tools. In the eighties, his ambitious films about power relations in the army and in prisons critisized what he would call emerging culture of surveillance, control and containment. His collaborative programs, created for public television in the 1990s, made him an influential voice within society (as can be seen in the installation “Panopticon” from 1988 or “WiP”, with films by Tony Oursler and Mike Kelley, 2013). Conrad was a master of “crossover”, the bridging and connection of various disciplines, making it seem impossible to think about the interdependence between art, film, music, and performance in contemporary art without including him. He also was a passionate pedagogue—his 40 years as professor at the Media Department at the University of Buffalo provoked and inspired generations of students until today.

    The exhibition is a collaboration between Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and MAMCO, Geneva, and is based on the touring retrospective organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (2018/19).

    The exhibition architecture at the Kölnischer Kunstverein was developed in cooperation with Milica Lopicic.

    The reusable wall system has been made possible by the Imhoff Stiftung.

    Weiterer Dank an Galerie Further thanks to Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York and Greene Naftali, New York

  • Exhibition: Jahresgaben 2019, 7. – 15.12.2019
    Jahresgaben 2019 at the Kölnischer Kunstverein

    Artists: Martin Assig, Olga Balema, Gerry Bibby, Juliette Blightman, Enrico David, Bradley Davies, Simon Denny, Ayşe Erkmen, Michael Krebber, Mischa Kuball, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), Morgaine Schäfer, Julia Scher, Gregor Schneider, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Rachel Whiteread

    Please note that the annual editions are exclusively reserved for our members. Find your membership application form here:

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    Exhibition of the Jahresgaben: December 7 – 15, 2019
    Opening: Friday, December 6 2019, 7 pm

    We are pleased to present newly produced works for the Kunstverein together with earlier Jahresgaben, including unique pieces and limited editions. Many of the artist represented were recently participating in the group exhibition Maskulinitäten. A cooperation between Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Also part of this year’s Jahresgaben: Editions of the Salon Verlag to be acquired through the Kunstverein.

    Changed opening times during the Jahresgaben exhibition: open throughout Mon – Sun, 11 am – 6 pm, free of charge

  • Exhibition: Maskulinitäten. Eine Kooperation von Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischem Kunstverein und Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1.9. – 24.11.2019
    Maskulinitäten. Eine Kooperation von Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischem Kunstverein und Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2019

    Organised in collaboration by Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Maskulinitäten is an international exhibition with a series of events and accompanying publication project that explores the subject of masculinity via contemporary art. The tripartite presentation is premised by an interest in questioning how a feminist exhibition on masculinity could look.

    Conceived within the context of prominent and reactionary manifestations of masculinity and with an irreverent, uncompromising critique of its hegemonic forms, the collaboration aims to destabilise patriarchal and heteronormative notions of gender. Including public artworks, performances, plays, readings, lectures, screenings, and workshops, the exhibition seeks to open up alternative spaces of agency and bring performative and transgressive conceptions of identity, sexuality, gender and the body to the fore.

    The three institutions share a history in variously presenting radical, feminist and queer exhibitions. Whilst many of these focused on reclaiming femininity and female experience from a history of male authorship, this project turns its attention instead to the male subject. The exhibition and the accompanying programme explores shifting perspectives on the representation of the body, the associated politics of power and visibility, and how these are negotiated and deconstructed in art from the 1960s to the present. Encompassing artistic and art-theoretical perspectives from different contexts and periods, masculinity is encountered as a complex, evolving, social construct that remains in continual flux.

    Curated by Eva Birkenstock, Michelle Cotton and Nikola Dietrich

    Artists in the exhibition
    Vito Acconci, The Agency, Georgia Anderson & David Doherty & Morag Keil & Henry Stringer, Lutz Bacher, Louis Backhouse, Olga Balema, Lynda Benglis, Judith Bernstein, Gerry Bibby, Alexandra Bircken, Juliette Blightman, Patricia L. Boyd, Anders Clausen, Keren Cytter, Enrico David, Vaginal Davis, Jonathas de Andrade, Jimmy DeSana, Nicole Eisenman, Hedi El Kholti, Jana Euler, Hal Fischer, Andrea Fraser, keyon gaskin with Samiya Bashir, sidony o‘neal and Adee Roberson, Eunice Golden, Philipp Gufler, Richard Hawkins, Jenny Holzer, Hudinilson Jr., Allison Katz, Annette Kennerley, Sister Corita Kent, Mahmoud Khaled, Jürgen Klauke, Jutta Koether, Tetsumi Kudo, Klara Lidén, Hilary Lloyd, Sarah Lucas, Robert Morris, Shahryar Nashat, D’Ette Nogle, Henrik Olesen, D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, Josephine Pryde, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), Carol Rama, Lorenzo Sandoval, Julia Scher, Agnes Scherer, Bea Schlingelhoff, Heji Shin, Katharina Sieverding, Nancy Spero, Anita Steckel, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Carrie Mae Weems, Marianne Wex, Martin Wong, Katharina Wulff

    Bonner Kunstverein
    Lynda Benglis, Judith Bernstein, Alexandra Bircken, Patrica L. Boyd, Jana Euler, Hal Fischer, Eunice Golden, Richard Hawkins, Jenny Holzer, Hudinilson Jr., Allison Katz, Mahmoud Khaled, Hilary Lloyd, Sarah Lucas, Robert Morris, D’Ette Nogle, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), Bea Schlingelhoff, Anita Steckel

    curated by Michelle Cotton

    Kölnischer Kunstverei
    Georgia Anderson & David Doherty & Morag Keil & Henry Stringer, Louis Backhouse, Olga Balema, Gerry Bibby, Juliette Blightman, Anders Clausen, Enrico David, Jonathas de Andrade, Jimmy DeSana, Jenny Holzer, Hedi El Kholti, Hilary Lloyd, Sarah Lucas, Shahryar Nashat, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo), Carol Rama, Bea Schlingelhoff, Heji Shin, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Carrie Mae Weems, Marianne Wex, Martin Wong, Katharina Wulff

    curated by Nikola Dietrich

    Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
    Vito Acconci, The Agency, Keren Cytter, Vaginal Davis, Nicole Eisenman, Andrea Fraser, keyon gaskin mit Samiya Bashir, sidony o´neal und Adee Roberson, Philipp Gufler, Jenny Holzer, Annette Kennerley, Sister Corita Kent, Jürgen Klauke, Jutta Koether, Tetsumi Kudo, Klara Lidén, Henrik Olesen, D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, Josephine Pryde, Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivio), Lorenzo Sandoval, Julia Scher, Agnes Scherer, Bea Schlingelhoff, Katharina Sieverding, Nancy Spero, Evelyn Taocheng Wang

    curated by Eva Birkenstock

    Program during the opening weekend:

    Opening on Saturday, August 31, 2019

    2.30 pm Bonner Kunstverein
    5 pm Kölnischen Kunstverein
    7.30 pm Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf

    Saturday, 31 August
    Legal Gender, Performance conceived by Anita Steckel
    from 2.30 pm, Bonner Kunstverein

    Parallel Lines, Performance by Gerry Bibby with Ellen Yeon Kim
    from 5 pm, Kölnischer Kunstverein

    Naked Self (Transitioning) (21 Months On Hormone Replacement Therapy), Nude Performance by Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo)
    5.30 – 6.30 pm, Kölnischer Kunstverein
    8 – 9 pm, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf

    Sunday, 1 September
    Tectonic Mnemonic, a platform with readings with guests, invited by Gerry Bibby
    3 pm, Kölnischer Kunstverein

    With kind support of:

  • Solo Exhibition: Jay Chung & Q Takeki Maeda – The Auratic Narrative, 12.4. – 23.6.2019
    Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda, Untitled 2014

    Opening on April 11, 7 pm
    9 pm Moulting, a slideshow with the artists

    When organizing an exhibition surveying an artist’s body of work, the convention is to frame it as a story. Usually this story includes the artist’s birth (“Born in rural Romania”), a pivotal moment in their career (“She then moved to Paris, where she continued her philosophical pursuits at the Sorbonne”), and a period of striving towards artistic, cultural or political achievements (“these identities have informed his work for more than 30 years”i). These accounts of individual development, despite being factually accurate, are constructed, which is to say generated and maintained, by arts professionals. In an interview about the societal effects of quantitative metrics, sociologist Steffen Mau alludes to this practice, stating that “fictional expectations” for an artist are established “by means of a story, in the style of an auratic success story that will be realized in the future.” He continues:

    [In] the present-day artistic personality one looks for something that is still quite vague and speculative, but which in the future can determine whether he or she will attain a particular market position […] It’s a matter of the dynamic upward movement of a reputation, a positive vision. As always, telling this story requires the culture of experts, and thus professional critics, art marketers, or art educators and advisors.ii

    Mau’s assessment echoes the work of sociologist Olav Velthuis, whose book Talking Prices is a study of the principles used to set prices for contemporary art. According to Velthuis, narratives of an archetypal nature (e.g. tragedy, success story, Bildungsroman)—as opposed to economic laws such as supply and demand—determine art market prices, the subject of these stories being both individuals and developments occurring in the field as a whole. Like Mau, Velthuis emphasizes that these narratives are collectively told and reiterated by those working with art, while also stressing their imaginary character. He writes: “The issue here is not whether this narrative, or, for that matter, the ones that will follow, is true to historical reality or not. In fact, its truth content is questionable to say the least.”iii

    Such narratives contribute to the intangible quality of uniqueness and authenticity perceived in both artworks and artistic personalities, or “aura,” as literary critic Walter Benjamin termed it. The experience of this phenomenon, abstract and impalpable by definition, is laden with contradiction and ambiguity. For instance, it is commonly accepted, on one hand, that contemporary art is an entirely professionalized field in which the creation of art, as well as a wide scope of related occupational activities, is undertaken for the sake of achieving specific attendant outcomes. On the other, it is equally assumed, though rarely stated outright, that visions of an artist’s current or future significance may not yet, or ever be, realized (as indicated by the phrasing “fictional expectations”iv). Likewise, the distinctive qualities of an artist’s work and biography are referred to as the product of only a single individual, while it is seldom acknowledged that they are in fact bestowed upon the object or individual and as such are the collective expression of the shared beliefs, values, and lived experiences of art’s discursive community.


    The Auratic Narrative, an exhibition of works by Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda, is on view from April 12 to June 23, 2019.

    i All parenthetical quotations from exhibition descriptions as of March 2019 on the website of MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York,
    ii Steffen Mau and Uwe Vormbusch, “Likes and Performance / A conversation between Uwe Vormbusch and Steffen Mau on the quantification of the social.” Texte zur Kunst 110 (June 2018),
    iii Olav Velthuis, Talking Prices, Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (Princeton University Press, 2005), 145.
    iv See also Jens Beckert, Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2016), 93: “The fictionality of literary texts, furthermore, is openly communicated, whereas it is hidden in the case of fictional expectations.”

    With kind support of:

    Additional support from Gaga, Mexico City and Los Angeles; ESSEX STREET, New York; Galerie Francesca Pia, Zürich; Cabinet Gallery, London; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. We would also like to thank Andra Lauffs-Wegner for her support of the artists’ book Letters, published on the occasion of the exhibition.

    Further information will be regularly announced on the website and via our newsletter.


    April 11, 2019, 9 pm
    Moulting (2019), slideshow with Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda

    May 14, 2019, 11 am – 6 pm
    Moulting (2019), slideshow by Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda

    May 28, 2019, 7 pm
    Show and Tell # 1
    Scalalogia and The Wheel of Life (2019), Book Launch with Jasmin Werner and a lecture by Philipp Kleinmichel in conjunction with a concert by pogendroblem

    Show and Tell is an ongoing, autonomous series of events with shifting formats. Various guests are invited to participate, among these artists, writers, and musicians.

    June 6, 2019, 7 pm
    Letters (2019) and Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda x Teruo Nishiyama (2017), Double Book Launch with Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda

    June 19, 2019, 7 pm
    Screening of a film by the directors Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn

    Public guided tours on Thursdays

    April 25, 2019, 5 pm with Miriam Bettin
    May 23, 2019, 5 pm with Lukas Flygare (in English)
    June 6, 2019, 5 pm with Nikola Dietrich

    Public guided tours on Sundays

    May 19, 2019, 3 pm with Jasmin Werner
    June 23, 2019, 3 pm with Jasmin Werner

  • Solo Exhibition: Power of Print – The Work and Life of Bea Feitler, 16.2.2019 – 31.3.2020
    Bea Feitler, announcement for the exhibition Power of Print at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2019

    Opening on February 15th, 7 pm

    Guided tours
    Wednesday, February 21st 5 pm: Guided tour through the exhibition with Juliane Duft
    Wednesday, March 7th, 5 pm: Guided tour through the exhibition with Nikola Dietrich
    Wednesday, March 21st, 5 pm: Guided tour through the exhibition with Miriam Bettin

    An exhibition in collaboration with Marte Eknæs and Nicolau Vergueiro

    Power of Print is a comprehensive survey of the revolutionary work, and life, of the late Brazilian art director and designer Bea Feitler (1938–1982).

    The exhibition features original magazines, books, video documentation and reproductions from Feitler’s meteoric career, spanning from the late 1950s until her death, and personal photos and artifacts that document her life and circle of friends, collaborators and peers. Best known for her work in Harper’s Bazaar, Ms., Rolling Stone and the modern Vanity Fair, Feitler left an indelible mark upon the face of American graphic design by offering a new approach to the magazine experience.

    Feitler’s expressive freedom, evidenced by shifting standards to a female gaze, allowed her to renegotiate the commercial representation of women and to use the magazine as a mass vehicle to address social issues through her vibrant aesthetic. Power of Print threads some of her work’s recurrent themes – the human silhouette, centerfold as compositional device, collaging, innovative use of typography, solarisation and duotone, through which she reimagined the relationship between body, text and graphic design in both layout and sensorial terms. “A magazine should flow. It should have rhythm. You can’t look at one page alone – you have to visualize what comes before and after.”

    Bea Feitler was born in Rio de Janeiro, after her Jewish parents fled Nazi Germany. She moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design and briefly returned to Brazil in 1959 where she designed posters, covers and spreads for books and for the progressive literary magazine Senhor.

    In 1961 Feitler moved back to New York and shortly thereafter, at the age of 25, became the co-art director of Harper’s Bazaar with Ruth Ansel following the legacy of their mentors at the magazine Alexey Brodovitch and Marvin Israel. During their 10 years at the magazine, they shaped the emergence of a new feminist popular editorial language. Attuned to the political and cultural changes of the 1960s, they created some of the most iconic editorials of the decade. Feitler and Ansel were ahead of their time: in 1965, with Richard Avedon, they used the first black model in a shoot for a major magazine, and in the same year, also with Avedon, they won the ADC medal for the April ‘space helmet’ Harper’s Bazaar cover. At the magazine, Feitler forged tight relations with photographers that lasted throughout her career; Avedon, Bill King and Diane Arbus, among others, were in her tight circle of friends. Her role as a main connector of the scene is portrayed in Power of Print through a collection of original artwork, personal photographs, postcards and letters from collaborators and friends, also including Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ray Johnson, Tomi Ungerer, Candy Darling and Gloria Steinem. Her natural collaborative approach elevated the commercial editorial to an art form.

    In 1972 Feitler joined Gloria Steinem to launch the feminist Ms. magazine. Here she created an experimental look using day-glo inks and mixtures of photography, illustration and typography compositions, activating the content of the magazine in both an accessible and critical way. Controversial messages were made more powerful through her masterful design, while feminist topics could enter into the mainstream. At Ms. Feitler had full control of visual content and a freedom that fueled her career. Today, the magazine is still pertinent and ahead of the curve and a hallmark of Feitler’s powerful, influential and unmistakable aesthetic.

    Between 1974 and 1980 Feitler designed seminal books, such as The Beatles, Henri-Jacques Lartigue’s The Diary of a Century, Helmut Newton’s White Women, Vogue: Book of Fashion Photography. Reflecting her belief that the modern book should be 50-50 in terms of visuals and words, she negotiated to receive cover credit and royalty along the authors and/or photographers of the books she designed. She also art directed ad campaigns for Calvin Klein, Halston, Max Factor, Diane Von Furstenberg etc., record covers, as for the iconic Rolling Stone album Black and Blue, and posters and costumes for the legendary Alvin Ailey dance company.

    In 1975, thanks to the insistence of Annie Leibovitz, Feitler started working for Rolling Stone, beginning her six-year association with the magazine which would lead her to redesigning its format twice. Feitler’s final project was the design of the premiere issue and overall concept of the revived Vanity Fair.

    This exhibition has been made possible with the generous help of Bruno Feitler. An exhibition of Bea Feitler was also presented at Between Bridges in Berlin and UKS in Oslo, both in 2017, co-curated by Marte Eknæs and Nicolau Vergueiro. We would like to thank Between Bridges for their generous loans and Eugen Ivan Bergmann for his exhibition design contribution. Furthermore, we thank The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh for their loan and The New School Archives & Special Collections, New York, as well as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York for providing additional material.


    With kind support of:

    Further information will be regularly announced on the website and via our newsletter.

  • Exhibition: Cut-Up and Wolfgang Tillmans, 23.11. – 19.12.2018
    Motiv von Karl Holmqvist, 2018

    Opening on November 22nd, 7 pm

    Cut-Up is a four-week program of exhibitions, lectures, music, performance, screenings, and a magazine launch. Artists, musicians, writers, publishers and an international project space were all invited to transform the various spaces of the Kunstverein (exhibition halls, theaters, and studios) with a wide array of activities and diverse programming. Cut-Up is a method of collage imagined first by Brian Gysin and William S. Burroughs as a strategy that implements the cutting and re-arranging of text, images and sound as a means of liberating them of their (pre-)designated meanings and categories and (re-)assigning them to new systems of readings and understanding. The invited guests all have their own unique approaches to this kind of strategy. Together, this cacophony of mediums and tactics creates a unique kind of “living-structure” that privileges the dynamic over the static – one that is constantly changing, shifting and adapting according to its own conditions and needs. With this fluid structure of exhibitions and events, the Kunstverein becomes a site for a diversity of international and regional interactions that champion new avenues of engagement and collaboration.

    Together with the participants:
    Michael Amstad, Marie Angeletti, Bonnie Camplin, Eric D. Clark, Kerstin Cmelka, Marte Eknæs, Helene Hegemann, Karl Holmqvist, Ellen Yeon Kim, Mario Mentrup, Luzie Meyer, Johanna Odersky, Deborah Schamoni, Mark von Schlegell, Starship, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nicolau Vergueiro, Adrian Williams

    Sorry I’m Late. XOXO Echo
    Upon the invitation of the Kunstverein, the formely Zurich-based exhibition space, Taylor Macklin, will organize an exhibition addressing the nature and possible interpretations of spaces and their conditions.
    With: Der Alltag (Sensationen des Gewöhnlichen), Andrea Büttner, Nicolas Buzzi, Brice Dellsperger, Maya Deren, Ayasha Guerin, Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf, Carissa Rodriguez, Ben Rosenthal & Flavio Merlo, Li Tavor, Miriam Yammad, Constantina Zavitsanos

    Wolfgang Tillmans
    On the occasion of his 2018 Members Edition, Wolfgang Tillmans will build a Playback-Room in the studio space of the Kunstverein, giving visitors the unique possibility to sit and listen to his music under near-perfect conditions on the original vinyl pressing. The Members Editions itself stems from his on-going interest in music and became a special limited edition LP with a specially designed cover and sleeve. The recording is a “Kehrschaufel” (Dustbin)-Concert for the A-Side with a musical collage of edited radio-recordings from the 80s and 90s and the original song, “The Future is Unwritten” from 1985 on the B-Side. Tillmans conceived of the 3-part exhibition series Playback-Room at his non-profit space Between Bridges in 2014, the same year that the space opened at its new location in Berlin after having operated in London since 2006. In 2016, Playback-Room took up residency at the Lenbachhaus in Munich, and was re-animated again as part of his solo exhibition at London’s Tate Modern in 2017.

    Thursday, Nov. 22nd

Opening of the exhibition with introduction by Nikola Dietrich

    Friday, Nov. 23rd
    3-5 pm
 Workshop with Ayasha Guerin

    7 pm 
Film screening with Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Karl’s Perfect Day, 2017, 94 min
with an Artists Talk and reading from Karl Holmqvist

    Friday, Nov. 30th
    7 pm
 Opening of the 2018 Member’s Edition Exhibition
    9 pm 
Mark von Schlegell and Ellen Yeon Kim, MUFA (Museum of Unfinished Art) Radio Play / Performance, 40 min

    Tuesday, December 4th, 2018, 7 pm
    Im Trailerpark der Angreifbaren: A Sideshow-Varieté to the film Die Angreifbaren (Release Anfang 2019)
    with Kerstin Cmelka & Mario Mentrup
    Guests: Rainer Knepperges and Sven Heuchert

    Friday, December 7th, 2018, 7 pm
    Lecture and filmcreening: Helene Hegemann & Deborah Schamoni

    Thursday, December 13th, 2018, 7 pm
    Marte Eknaes & Michael Amstad, A People Mover Evening
    & Artist Talk with Nikola Dietrich (in English)

    Sunday, December 16th, 2018, 7 pm
    Magazine launch: 20 years of Starship, Berlin, 18th edition
    Filmscreening and Talk with Bonnie Camplin;
    Record Release Musix’ lost its colour with Eric D.Clark

    Wednesday, December 19th, 2018, 7 pm
    Filmscreening: Luzie Meyer, The Flute, 2018
    Exhibition and Performance: Johanna Odersky,
    organised by Juliane Duft

    All events will be regularly announced on the website and via our newsletter.

    Graphic by Karl Holmqvist, 2018

  • Exhibition: Jahresgaben 2018, 22.11. – 19.12.2018

  • Solo Exhibition: Julien Ceccaldi – Solito, 8.9. – 11.11.2018
    Julien Ceccaldi, Solito, Kölnischer Kunstverein 2018

    Opening on Friday, September 7, 2018, 6 pm
    Reading from the comic Solito by Julien Ceccaldi (in Engl.), 9 pm
    followed by snacks und drinks in collaboration with Okey Dokey II

    Produced on site at the Kölnischer Kunstverein over the course of two months, Julien Ceccaldi’s Solito is a large-scale exhibition in which a fairy tale unfolds around a character of the same name, a concupiscent and boyish 30-year-old virgin willing to give himself to anybody. The plot is inspired by stories such as Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, in which the female protagonists end up in love with ugly men, and sexuality manifests itself through power and violence. However, all Solito gets out of his unsightly, quickly aborted love story, is a fading souvenir of happiness.
    Misery is all the more evident in the comic book published by Ceccaldi for this exhibition. In what could be interpreted as a dream of his own doing, the titular character goes so far as to make advances to death itself. He follows Oscar, a soldier from a magical land who is nothing more than “a cadaver, an empty shell [he] projects on” (J. Ceccaldi). Solito is presented as ambivalent: Desperate for partnership and security, he also acts masochistically in that he orchestrates a self-fulfilling destiny of being forever rejected. He plays with the dead like one does with dolls, and dreams of an eternal tea party with skeletons, all the while unconsciously wishing they would turn on him. Betraying their trust ultimately gets him thrown back onto the cold sidewalk of the real world – an allusion to The Little Match Girl by Hans-Christian Andersen, one of the most prominent fairy tale writers.
    Ceccaldi took descriptions of the author’s life as a template for Solito’s character traits. Andersen never engaged in sexual relations with women nor men, indulging in intense masturbation after each encounter instead. Described as childish and love-obsessed in equal measures, he was considered an outsider and a loner within the Copenhagen elite of the 19th century, and he died alone at the end of his days. His original tales were perverse and morbid; his suffering heroines often dying a painful death. Later adaptations of his more tragic stories have been rewritten with a happy ending.
    Further aesthetic and conceptual references can be found in the animation TV-series Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997) by Kunihiko Ikuhara, and the manga The Rose of Versailles (1972) and Oniisama E (1975) by Riyoko Ikeda, which weave together fairytale symbols, androgyny, and inescapable fates along with modern backdrops and contemporary preoccupations. The exhibition also borrows from these works the liberty to blend myths from different places across history from the Middle Ages, to 19th century Europe and our present time.
    These different starting points establish the framework for the figures and setting in Solito, which are transferred onto various surfaces both inside and outside the exhibition spaces: animated video loops, sculptures, digital drawings, and paintings on plastic. The works no longer follow a consistently linear narrative as on the pages of the book. Inspired by cel art, a technique used in animation to separate backgrounds from foregrounds, images of different moods manifest themselves through overlays, off-sets, and trompe l’œil effects. They circulate around the figure of Solito, with whom visitors get closer to as they walk through the exhibition hall. Like the fragmented pieces that come together to form identity itself, repeated variations of the same figure elicit feelings of vanity and confinement, but also moments of emancipatory liberation.

    Julien Ceccaldi created the comic book Solito especially for the exhibition [36 pages, edited by Nikola Dietrich, September 2018]. It can be purchased at a price of €12 (members €8).

    Julien Ceccaldi was born in 1987 in Montreal, Canada and lives in New York. Solo exhibitions include Gay, Lomex, New York, NY (2017); and King and Slave, Jenny’s, Los Angeles, CA. He has recently participated in group exhibitions such as Painting Now and Forever 3, Greene Naftali, New York, NY; An Assembly of Shapes, Oakville Galleries, Ontario, Canada; and The Present in Drag, 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

    With kind support of

    And further help by Gaga, Mexico City / Los Angeles & Jenny’s, Los Angeles


    Fr 9/7, 9 pm
    Reading from the comic Solito
    by Julien Ceccaldi (in Engl.)

    Sat 9/8, 4 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition with Juliane Duft (in German)

    Sun 9/9, 7 pm
    Artist Talk with Julien Ceccaldi
    with the presentation of Japanese Animes (in Engl.)

    Thu 9/13, 5 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition with Jasmin Werner (in German)

    Thu 9/20, 5 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition with Nikola Dietrich (in German)

    Thu 9720, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Kunihiko Ikuhara, La Fillette Revolutionnaire Utena, 1999 (in the original with German subtitles)

    Tue 9/25, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Catherine Breillat, Barbe Bleue, 2009 (in the original with Engl. subtitles)

    Sun 9/30, 3 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition (in German)

    Thu 10/11, 5 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition with Juliane Duft (in German)

    Thu 10/11, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Catherine Breillat: La Belle Endormie, 2011 (in the original with Engl. subtitles)

    Thu 10/18, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Mori Masaki, The Door into Summer, 1975 (in the original with Engl. subtitles)

    Sun 10/21, 3 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition (in German)

    Thu 10/25, 5 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition (in German)

    Thu 10/25, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Catherine Breillat, 36 Fillette, 1988 (in the original with Engl. subtitles)

    Sat 11/3, 7 pm – 2 pm
    Museumsnacht 2018
    Guided tours through the exhibition and SOLITO BAR:
    Anime film screenings, karaoke & Japanese snacks
    with Bistro Kombu (Düsseldorf-Benrath)

    Wed 11/7, 5 pm
    Guided tour through the exhibition with Nikola Dietrich (in German)

    Wed 11/7, 6 pm
    Screening in the cinema
    Chantal Akerman, Golden Eighties, 1986 (35mm, in the original with German subtitles)
    with an introduction by Juliane Duft

    With kind support of the Filmclub 813

  • Solo Exhibition: Alex Da Corte – THE SUPƎRMAN, 20.4. – 17.6.2018
    Alex Da Corte, announcement for the exhibition The Superman at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2018

    Alex Da Corte (*1980 Camden, New Jersey, USA) uses painting, sculpture, installation, and film to explore the conditions and intricacies of human perception and the reactions associated with it. Special attention is paid to the complexity of today’s consumer world and how it intertwines with social, cultural, and political spheres. And thus, concepts like desire, hope, and longing account for just as much of his work as the examination of terms like dependence, alienation, and a sense of being lost. The starting point for his artistic works is mostly found in objects and scenarios from his personal and more general social environment which he then transforms into works of art through modifications, changes of perspective, or contrasting juxtapositions that appeal powerfully to all the senses.

    Four cinematic works come together at the center of Alex Da Corte’s presentation to form a haunting installation in the large hall of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. These works include TRUƎ LIFƎ, which was made in 2013, as well as the three-part work BAD LAND, which was created in 2017. Despite being created at different times, both pieces share a point of origin that is closely connected to a personal experience of the artist. A friend sent him a photograph a few years ago that seemed to show him in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Musee du Louvre in Paris, although the photograph was actually of the American rapper Eminem. This confusion was based on a certain similarity between the two and prompted Alex Da Corte to begin working with the idea of the world-famous musician, who had been repeatedly criticized in the past for glorifying violence and being hostile towards homosexuals and women, and his Slim Shady alter ego. He was interested in the question of what makes up Eminem as a person, what psychology is involved, and how he would behave in a private environment. His interest finally culminated in the work TRUƎ LIFƎ, for which he took on the role of the rapper by dyeing his hair blond, putting on the appropriate clothing, and adopting his persona. In reference to the documentary 66 Scenes from America by Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth in which Pop Art artist Andy Warhol eats a hamburger, TRUƎ LIFƎ depicts Eminem as played by Alex Da Corte eating a North American breakfast cereal called Life. Despite a compositional sophistication that recalls the simple actions of artists like Bas Jan Ader, Gilbert & George, and Bruce Nauman, the plainness of the scene forms a contrast to the glamor and fame – not to mention the drive and drastic behavior – that the rapper embodies. Eminem is portrayed by Alex Da Corte more as a human being than as an inaccessible and invincible celebrity, whereby the casual but nevertheless noticeable placement of a package of Cinnamon Life with the image of an African American boy on it also expands on socio-political aspects.
    The three Bad Land films, the title of which refers to an underprivileged district of Philadelphia where the artist’s studio is located known as the Badlands, were conceived by Alex Da Corte as a cohesive work and are a continuation of the ideas addressed in TRUƎ LIFƎ. The first film shows the musician in a setting divided into two areas: Its clear-cut, uniformly red and yellow tones is reminiscent of a pop version of Ellsworth Kelly or Blinky Palermo. In the almost eleven-minute sequence, the protagonist is busy untangling a chaotic bunch of old Playstation controllers and then arranging them neatly on a table-like base. For Alex Da Corte, the action functions as an allegory of fear, power, and control, whereby the banality of the scene once again breaks away from the general image of Eminem.
    In contrast, the second film in the BAD LAND series makes significantly clearer reference to the practices of a rapper. Accompanied by atmospheric sounds, the film shows how the musician smokes cannabis with homemade pipes and bongs. It is surprising how perfectly, artistically, and humorously the smoking devices are made from various everyday objects, and without losing their functionality. In the course of the consumption, the smoker appears to fall into a trance-like state that is accompanied by a deep laugh and intense cough that seems to trace back to a lack of routine.
    Finally, the third and last film in the BAD LAND series shows the rapper performing probably the most unusual action. Eminem, as depicted by Da Corte, stands in front of a grey background and is busy coloring his hair by rubbing yellow mustard into it while accompanied by ambiguous sounds and tones. As the film progresses, he puts on a paper crown from a fast-food restaurant, which is then repeatedly rubbed with the condiment although it already shows clear traces of the treatment. This symbol of power, which is particularly popular in hip hop culture, is thus not only associated with the excesses of consumer society, but is also questioned with palpable humor. It can hardly come as a surprise in this context that the rapper seems to increasingly lose his mind towards the end of the sequence. After all, a symbol of power like a crown is always associated with the fear of losing power, while fast-food chains often stand for seductive illusions.

    The examination of psychological parameters as they are revealed both in the BAD LAND films as well as in TRUƎ LIFƎ represents a significant driving force for Alex Da Corte’s work in which the traditional boundaries between the different genres seem to dissolve. It can also be seen in the exhibition THE SUPƎRMAN, in which the films are embedded in a complex architecture that plays with the viewer’s perception and emotions with remarkable intensity. It is not just the sculptural presence of the films that becomes overwhelming, but also the picturesque installation that melts somewhere between Pop Art and Surrealism into an intoxicating gesamtkunstwerk that evokes memories of nightmares just as much as those of Disneyland.

    Alex Da Corte has had solo exhibitions at the New Museum in New York (2017), the Secession in Vienna (2017), the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2017), the Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2015), and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (2015). He has also participated in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2017), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (2016), and the Biennale in Lyon (2015).

  • Solo Exhibition: Walter Price – Pearl Lines, 20.4. – 17.6.2018
    Walter Price, announcement for the exhibition Pearl Lines at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2018

    Walter Price was born in 1989 in Macon, in the US state of Georgia, and currently lives in the multicultural metropolis of New York. The artist’s predominately small-format work can be broken down into paintings and drawings in which he deals with personal experiences, social conventions, as well as historical developments. His works usually depict interiors or exteriors that are occupied by objects, creatures, signs, symbols, and forms. They contain references to limbs, figures, palm trees, huts, sofas, urinals, and cars as well as the outlines of architecture or vegetation. At the same time, these visual elements – which are sometimes more easily deciphered than others – are not always brought into a clear relationship with each other, making a form of narration palpable, yet intangible. This is supported not least by the fact that the American artist forgoes traditional patterns of order in his compositions, subverts hierarchies, and does away with perspective, all of which lends his paintings and drawings an unusual appearance that occasionally refers to the beautiful simplicity and purism of drawings by children.

    Occasionally letters and writing can be made out in Price’s works, although they are mostly only visible when truncated and partially hidden and therefore seem to be more like an echo of a verbalized thought rather than designed for instant readability. Another characteristic feature of many of Price’s works is an intense, vivid use of color that can be put down to a superb handling of the pallet. In addition, a large number of works are characterized by a heightened interest in the materiality of the raw materials he uses, which can be traced to both a strongly gestural and therefore palpably tactile application of paint as well as to leaving the painting and drawing foundations visible. In doing so, a conscious confrontation with representatives of classical modernism in Europe and the last outliers of American post-war art can be seen in the strong and expressive use of color as well as the specific handling of materials, one in which the artist authoritatively formulates his own language despite any references.

    This exhibition at Kölnischer Kunstverein marks the first time Price’s work will be comprehensively presented and recognized in Germany. The aim is to focus on both older and newer works, complemented by site-specific wall paintings and drawings. In addition, the work is explained in a comprehensive, bilingual catalogue that accompanies and documents the presentation in Cologne.

    With the support of:

  • Solo Exhibition: Talia Chetrit – Showcaller, 17.2. – 25.3.2018
    Talia Chetrit, announcement for the exhibition Showcaller at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2018

    The photographic work of Talia Chetrit (B. 1982, Washington D.C.) is characterized by a remarkable compositional sophistication and visual power, accompanied by a stringent programmatic objective. Her work includes self-portraits, portraits of family members, lovers, and friends, nudes, still lifes, and cityscapes that continuously reveal various intentional references to art history. Chetrit occasionally draws from photographs taken during her youth and re-contextualizes these images by inserting them into her current practice through a selective editing process.
    Regardless of the respective subject matter or approach to the development of each image, her interest resides in researching and disclosing the basic social, conceptual, and technical conditions of the genre of photography. As a result, her work is imbued with the desire to control the physical and historical limitations of the camera, to follow its manipulative potential, and to call the relationship between the photographer and the image into question.

    The exhibition Showcaller, which Chetrit conceived especially for the Kölnischer Kunstverein, comprises a group of predominately new and revisited works that give exemplary insight into her practice. The presentation includes an extensive series of pictures titled Streets, which depict lively and inhabited views of New York City. Through the use of tight cropping of grainy negatives, the city and its people become an unknowing and abstracted network of bodies over which Chetrit can command her own manipulated narratives. Taken from afar and through the windows of various buildings, the distance between Chetrit’s pervasive lens and her unwitting subjects’ anonymity is further emphasized.
    In the context of the exhibition, this series of works is juxtaposed with photographs that convey an alternative perspective, and instead instill a pronounced sense of intimacy through the conspicuous disclosure of private moments. A large-format diptych, for example, depicts the artist and her partner having sex. Imaged against a blooming landscape, neither of the subjects seem aware of the camera’s austere gaze. The viewer is tethered to the scene by the twisting cord of the camera’s cable release, in such a way that we are reminded, once again, of our own position in the construction of images.

    Talia Chetrit was born in Washington D.C. in 1982 and now lives in New York. She has recently participated in solo and group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2016), Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (2016), LAXART in Los Angeles (2014), Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2013), Studio Voltaire in London (2013), and the SculptureCenter in New York (2012). In 2018, she will be presented to a wider public in Italy for the first time at the MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo in Rome.

    With the support of:

    The exhibition is kindly supported by Andra Lauffs-Wegner & KAT_A

  • Solo Exhibition: Adriano Costa – wetANDsomeOLDstuff VANDALIZEDbyTHEartist, 17.2. – 25.3.2018
    Adriano Costa, announcement for the exhibition wetANDsomeOLDstuff VANDALIZEDbyTHEartist at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2018

    In the space of almost ten years Adriano Costa has created a body of work that establishes a bridge between South American and European art, updates artistic movements like Neoconcretismo or Arte Povera and provides them with a new dimension. Born in 1975 this Brazilian artist makes assemblages, sculptures, paintings and films on the basis of found materials and everyday objects; in his exhibitions he combines them together into expansive installations in such a way that they result in stage-like scenes comparable with “environments”. At the same time, his works are usually the result of extensive and time-consuming research, which Costa carries out wherever he is staying at the moment. Like a curious and open-minded tourist he thus explores his various “research areas” and, in doing so, he follows not just the well-known main paths, but also and particularly those routes within urban as well as rural contexts which receive less attention or are overlooked. He is interested in ethnological, sociological and historical developments and phenomena, and he makes these the subject matter of his works, but without employing the precise practices of scholars. For Costa the different themes and lines of enquiry serve, to a certain extent, as a vehicle for his poetic and not infrequently humorous articulations, which he forms out of the found pieces, mementoes and objects from the given explorations and investigations. The boundaries between art and “non-art” are occasionally undermined within this context, testifying to his efforts to more closely intertwine art and life.

    With the support of:

    The exhibition is kindly supported by Andra Lauffs-Wegner & KAT_A

  • Solo Exhibition: Cameron Jamie – Bodies, Faces, Heads, 21.10. – 10.12.2017
    Cameron Jamie, Untitled 2017, Courtesy Two Palms, New-York, photo: David Regen

    Opening: Friday, 20. October 2017, 6-8 pm

    With Bodies, Faces, Heads, the Kölnischer Kunstverein presents Cameron Jamie’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany. Born in Los Angeles in 1969 and currently based in Paris, Jamie has built a body of work over a good 25 years using an enormous variety of media: It comprises wood sculptures, ceramics, drawings, prints, photographs, films, artist’s books, and musical productions.

    One of his central themes is identity as the existential foundation of the individual, which is generated by social and anti-social codes. Jamie’s view of marginalized realities and magically obscure rituals that embody the hidden side of our society is both analytical and immersive at the same time: Jamie himself is partly shaped by the subcultures that he transforms artistically. His creative process is, therefore, anything but scientific or coolly calculated – Jamie follows a spontaneous, psychologically inspired search for form, the result of which is deeply personal while giving off an archaic, primitive atmosphere at the same time. It is about states of being and consciousness instead of concrete connections of meaning.

    The Kölnischer Kunstverein is presenting five groups of works revolving around the topic of the body and nature, all produced between 2008 and 2017. The group Smiling Disease (2008) consists of large-format wooden masks in the tradition of the Austrian Alpine region of Bad Gastein. Jamie produced them in collaboration with a professional wood carver who re-interpreted Jamie’s drawings and lent them a grotesque, deformed countenance. Ceramics on metal pedestals are shown in the second room, ghostly figures hand-produced by the artist that intertwine with the organic flow of the plinth forms in the third room. The direct, powerful treatment of the clay, the pulsating variety of form, and the elaborate glazing all allow the figures to lead a life of their own like alien beings in the room.

    A series of ceramic masks hangs on the walls, their interiors presenting as peculiar, hollow faces, like monotypes that evoke a variety of floral and figurative associations. Each work on paper is unique and contains several layers of drawings and colors – a characteristic that reflects Jamie’s creative process in general: erasing, overwriting, destroying, and restoring are fundamental features inherent in each of his works.

    Cameron Jamie’s previous solo exhibitions have included the Kunsthalle Zürich in Zürich (2013), the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2010), the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes (2009), and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2006). He has also been part of group exhibitions like The Absent Museum at Wiels Center of Contemporary Art in Brussels (2017), the Lyon Biennale (2015), the Berlin Biennale (2010 and 2008), and the Venice Biennale (2005). His work was first shown at Kölnischer Kunstverein within the framework of the exhibition Keine Donau: Cameron Jamie, Peter Kogler, Kurt Kren (2006).

    Supported by

  • Solo Exhibition: Sam Anderson – Big Bird, 1.7. – 10.9.2017
    Sam Anderson, announcement for the exhibition Big Bird at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2017

    Sam Anderson was born in Los Angeles in 1982. In the recent past she has developed a body of work in which she examines the existential conditions of human life on the basis of her own biography and stories from her social milieu. Her artistic practice is focused on sculpture and installation, although she also makes films at regular intervals. The works of the artist, who now lives in New York, additionally range from narrative visual creations to almost indecipherable (and therefore seemingly abstract) formulations. Thus, in Anderson’s art, figures formed out of epoxy clay – such as a kneeling girl, a rider or a fishing teenager – meet with material collages that are based on a variety of sometimes found materials and objects – such as broken glass, feathers, pieces of wood, grape steams, flowers or grasses – and are structured according to definite but now always comprehensible criteria. The found animal skeletons, which are also a part of her repertoire and transfer another dimension of reality into her work, are to be situated between these two extremes: the unambiguously narrative sculptures and the scarcely interpretable arrangements.

    Independently of the sculptures’ formal appearance, special importance is to be assigned to the relationship between object and space. The works are designed to play with proportions and, in this context, the surrounding architecture serves to indicate scale. Every form of monumentality is subjected to a negation in the process, as is particularly underscored through the fragility of many of the pieces. For viewers, this situation means a continuous bird’s-eye view of the works, which Anderson joins into complex installations in their presentations. The interplay between the pieces causes the American artist’s presentations to behave like staged landscapes. It is precisely through her combination and intertwining of dissimilar works that she evokes the distinctive interactions and charged relationships which breathe life into the artworks and arrangements and substantially contribute to their fascinating effect. The artist creates pictures that not only appear no less lifelike than remote from life, but also mean an expansion of sculpture’s range of possibilities.

    A similar potential is connected with Anderson’s films, which once again reveal her occupation with collage techniques. To create them she combines her own or found footage, accompanied by music and speech, into new narratives. Dream-like scenarios are also composed in these works; however, in contrast to the sculptures and installations, they are substantially more strongly anchored in the here and now.

    The unique nature of Anderson’s work has brought her considerable renown in recent years, and she has already been included in several important exhibitions. The artist has had solo exhibitions at Rowhouse Project in Baltimore (2016), Tanya Leighton in Berlin (2015), Mother´s Tankstation in Dublin (2015), Between Arrival and Departure in Düsseldorf (2015), Off Vendome in Düsseldorf (2014) and Chapter NY in New York (2013). She has additionally participated in group exhibitions, including “ICHTS” at the Dortmunder Kunstverein (2016) and “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1 (2015).
    For the Kölnischer Kunstverein Anderson has developed a complex survey of her work that encompasses both older and new pieces, in order to enable visitors to gain extensive insight into her practice. In addition to the central exhibition hall and the cinema, the neighbouring cabinet of the Kölnischer Kunstverein will also be used to enable visitors to tour through Sam Anderson’s various narratives and formulations.

    The artist’s first catalogue as well as an edition of unique works will appear in connection with the exhibition, which is presented in cooperation with the SculptureCenter in New York.

    This project is supported by the Kunststiftung NRW as well as the Leinemann Stiftung.

  • Solo Exhibition: Avery Singer – Sailor, 27.4. – 11.6.2017
    Avery Singer, annoncement for the exhibition Sailor at the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2017, photo: David Lieske

    Avery Singer was born in New York in 1987, in the recent past, she has formed a body of work which can be reckoned among the most powerful contributions to the recent history of art and has provided the medium of painting with new impulses – particularly in the context of the changing technical conditions surrounding it. Thus the artist utilises 3D programs like SketchUp or Blender to produce virtual visual worlds: in terms of their formal appearance these can be read as simple animations and accordingly make direct reference to their origins. Singer uses an airbrush gun to transfer this visual creation to her usually large-format canvasses, thereby negating any sense of a distinctive “hand of the artist”. Her approach results in visual formulations that allude stylistically to French Cubism as well as grisaille painting and thus seem, in a certain sense, to proclaim an anachronistic aesthetic.

    At the level of content Singer thematises socio-political questions, in doing so, it is not uncommon for her to specifically focus on a humorous look at the rules and rituals of the art scene. For example, she has occupied herself with the process of a studio visit, the role of the artist or director as entertainer, the life of a muse or the image of the patron. Singer’s painting also repeatedly contains allusions to the great masters of the history of art, which also places particular emphasis on the conceptual aspects of her work.
    Thanks to the unique nature of her work as an artist, Avery Singer has already been included in numerous international exhibitions in recent years: she has had solo presentations at the Kunsthalle Zürich, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Within the context of her exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, which will open with a barbecue party on the occasion of the ArtCologne 2017, the artist’s manner of working will be presented to a broader audience in Germany. At the same time, the exhibition also presents a new group of works in addition to her figurative compositions, they represent a stylistic break with her previous pieces and Singer uses them to explore the broad realm of abstraction. These works are embedded within an architecture developed specifically for them: the space and the art will be interwoven with one another within the framework of the exhibition.

    An artist’s book will appear in connection with the exhibition, which was developed in cooperation with the Vienna Secession.

    Kindly supported by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Danny McDonald – The Beads & Other Objects, 27.4. – 11.6.2017
    Danny McDonald, The Beads That Bought Manhattan, 2013, photo: ioulex

    Danny McDonald, born in 1971 in Los Angeles, became known as a member of the legendary Art Club 2000, an artists’ collective founded in 1992 by the no less historic New York gallery owner Colin de Land and which included seven students from The Cooper Union School of Arts. As part of their work, which included photographs, installations, texts, and performances, the group investigated phenomena such as the gentrification of the urban context, the strategies of the art market, and the psychology of the fashion industry. In the process, their concepts and productions manifested a fundamental interest in institutional critique, not least as a reaction to the living and working conditions of their generation.

    The artistic work that McDonald is developing, detached from his activities as a member of the Art Club 2000, is shaped by the experiences he gathered during the 1990s, whereby his current work not only has a different appearance, but also describes a new dimension. McDonald’s practice encompasses in particular sculptures and films that complement and stimulate each other, and which are characterized by a great sovereignty in the contemporary art context. For his haptically tangible works, he mainly uses toy figures, but occasionally also other everyday objects, which he combines according to the principles of the assemblage technique in such a way that new contexts of meaning and unprecedented narratives emerge. The bizarre and scurrile that is often inherent in the arrangements due to the contradictory nature of the objects used can be regarded as one of the specific characteristics of the artist’s sculptures. They reflect the artist’s endeavour to use his keen wit and humour to create a distorting mirror of social and socio-political situations. McDonald’s cinematic works, which generally have a strong visual as well as auditory power, point in a similar direction. For these works, the artist makes use of various alter egos, which appear as protagonists of the films and lead through surreal-looking narratives.

    The exhibition The Beads & Other Objects, which is being held at the Kölnischer Kunstverein on the occasion of ArtCologne 2017, is the first solo presentation of Danny McDonald in a European institution.

  • Exhibition: ars viva 2017 – Jan Paul Evers, Leon Kahane & Jumana Manna, 11.2. – 26.3.2017

    The exhibition ars viva 2017: Jan Paul Evers, Leon Kahane, Jumana Manna opened on 10 February 2017 at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Since 1953 the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e.V. (the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries) has been awarding the annual ars viva prize to young artists living in Germany whose works are distinguished by their pioneering potential. The ars viva award brings prize money, two exhibitions, a bilingual catalogue and a residence programme on Fogo Island (Canada).
    Works by this year’s recipients, Jan Paul Evers, Leon Kahane and Jumana Manna, will be shown in Cologne. These artists are distinguished by their different ways of working and their use of various media. The exhibition presents a selection of earlier works and new, previously unexhibited pieces. This is the Kölnischer Kunstverein’s second cooperation with the Kulturkreis. Works by the 2009 prize winners were exhibited in the galleries of the Kunstverein at that time.

    Jan Paul Evers works with digital and analogue photographic production and editing processes. Using various developing techniques he makes black-and-white prints from photographic material created by himself or others and featuring abstract and representational motifs. His compositions shift the focus on to the relationship between image and replica, motif and reality, and they examine the possibilities of (photographic) reproduction. The artist is showing a number of new works at the Kölnischer Kunstverein.

    Leon Kahane engages critically with social themes like the construction of territorial boundaries and the problematic conditions of labour migration. He makes reference to media revolutions and global developments, for example, in his Frontex photo series. Here he seemingly casually visualises the conflicts along Europe’s territorial boundaries, which are caused by cultural and economic conditions. The works that Kahane is presenting in Cologne include a piece that was created during his six-month stay in Hong Kong and sheds light on the working conditions of female immigrants from the Philippines.

    In her videos and sculptural works Jumana Manna develops narratives that read like possible histories. Her artistic field research traces identity-building stories operating within the charged space connecting the private sphere and the national plane. In Cologne Manna is showing an adaptation of a work originally commissioned by the 2016 Liverpool Biennial. Among other things, this installation makes reference to the Post Herbarium at the American University of Beirut, which archives the biological diversity of Syria, Palestine and Sinai.

    With kind support by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Leidy Churchman – Free Delivery, 11.2. – 26.3.2017
    Leidy Churchman, Free Delivery, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2017, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    The artist Leidy Churchman is concerned with the question of how images are perceived and processed in the present age, when visual stimuli display an omnipresence. Within this context, Churchman – who was born in the American community of Villanova, Pennsylvania, in 1979 – produces paintings based on pre-existing images from the “extraordinary junkyard” of visual formulations. Thus he copies the works of other artists and uses logos, book covers or advertisements as sources or makes references to Far Eastern religions or art related to folklore. For this reason the pictorial universe that confronts us in Churchman’s presentations often seems familiar, even if the paintings differ from their sources to a greater or lesser extent.

    Churchman’s solo exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein is his first institutional presentation in Europe. For this show he has produced a new group of works which display a disconcerting heterogeneity at first glance. At the exhibition our attention is immediately grabbed by the large-format painting Standoff, which shows two giraffes standing in high grass with their necks crossed. While this painting seems to be more or less clearly comprehensible, a small-format landscape painting entitled “Faultless Aspect” exhibits more surreal features: illuminated by a magnificent full moon, a kind of net spreads out across a deep-green meadow and, in combination with two white pillows and a bedside table, becomes a bed. The painting Peacocking, which is dominated by two red-and-black, organic-looking forms as well as countless, tangibly palpable dots, does not allow us to identify any clear narrative and points to the field of abstraction. By contrast, in the work The Kitchen Sink, we can read The Laundry Room in white letters on a deep blue background, and it seems to be the direct transfer of a sign into the medium of painting. The painting Mahakala, on the other hand, makes reference to the Buddhist deity of the same name, although Churchman has limited himself to the signifier of his mouth in his work. This is embedded within a greenish-bluish composition of colours and forms in a manner that stimulates the impression of looking into this orifice through a peculiar kind of peephole. The link connecting all of these different works is the common world they share: a world that has become almost impossible to grasp and from which Churchman selects images in order to present them to his viewers with an altered tempo, feeling and state of mind. In doing so, the New Yorker’s visual formulations go beyond a mere transfer into the medium of painting. Churchman’s works are linked with an inexplicable and mysterious magic that it is very difficult to escape.

    Leidy Churchman lives and works in New York. He has recently participated in much-discussed thematic exhibitions including Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst (2015) and at mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (2016). In recent years he has also presented works at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2016), the Kunsthalle Bern (2015), the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen (2014) and at MoMA/P.S.1 in New York (2010). In 2013 Churchman had a solo exhibition at the Boston University Art Gallery and the first monograph on his work as an artist was created to accompany it.

    Kindly supported by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Christiana Soulou – Sonnet to the Nile, 28.10. – 18.12.2016
    Christiana Soulou, In The Prison With The Birds, 1982, Kölnischer Kunstverein 2016

    The Kölnischer Kunstverein is presenting Sonnet to the Nile, Christiana Soulou’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany. Since the early 1980s the artist has been working on a body of drawings that can be counted among the most remarkable articulations in the field of this art form. The art of this Athenian born in 1961 is centred around human and animal beings that appear on the paper without any context or any connection to a time or place. The drawings are simultaneously so understated that they usually cannot be perceived without a more thorough consideration. Even then they often cannot be grasped in their entirety, because in spite of their forceful presence, they seem to disappear into the ground of the drawing. The majority of Soulou’s creations remain monochrome – in shades of grey, blue or red – and supplementary coloration can only occasionally be identified. On the whole Soulou’s works captivate viewers through a subtlety and precision that are characteristic of Old Master drawings or etchings and represent a rarity within the context of current developments in art. This has earned the Greek artist recognition among her younger colleagues, in particular, and resulted in her enjoying the reputation of an artist’s artist. In this context it should be emphasised that every line Soulou places on the paper by means of pencil, coloured pencil or watercolour cannot be looked at solely as the result of extraordinary technical ability. Far more significant is the fact that the artist experiences the making of even minor marks with a great intensity, thus emotionally projecting herself into the depicted being with a powerful empathic faculty.
    Literary works provide the point of departure for many drawings, which are conceived either as individual sheets or in series. Soulou has studied the works of authors like William Shakespeare, Heinrich von Kleist, Georges Bataille, Jean Cocteau or Jorge Luis Borges for years and years, some of them since her youth. The connection with these works is suggested by the titles and subtitles of her works on paper, for example, when the protagonists of a particular text are explicitly named, descriptive approximations of scenes from a novel are carried out or complete book titles are utilised as supplemental titles for groups of works. Thus references to texts including Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles or Borges’s El libro de los seres imaginarios can be recognised in the context of the exhibition. At the same time, Soulou’s drawings are to be seen not as illustrations of the texts but as a more general exploration of Being: existential experiences, but also the mysteries of life, are what occupy Soulou and it is their traces that she pursues in her drawings – with meticulousness, mental sharpness and emotion.

    Christiana Soulou has had solo exhibitions at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle (2016), among other places. She has also participated in group exhibitions including those at Camden Arts Centre in London (2016) and the New Museum in New York (2010) as well as the Biennale di Venezia (2013) and the Berlin Biennale (2006).

    with kind support by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Catharine Czudej – SHHHHH, 9.7. – 4.9.2016
    Catharine Czudej: Untitled, 2014.

    The Kölnischer Kunstverein presents SHHHHH, Catharine Czudej’s first solo exhibition in Germany. The artist was born in Johannesburg in 1985 and now lives in New York. Her work encompasses sculptures, installations, paintings and films which reflect her occupation with labor, power dynamics and moral structures. Her art is characterized by its humorous approach and absurdist take on the everyday. Responding to canonised ideas or phenomena Czudej sets off a chain of free associations linked to the cultural subconscious in an attempt to implicate the viewer in her conspiracy.

    Czudej has gathered together both existing and newly produced works in the central hall of the Kölnischer Kunstverein to form an “environment” that suggests an apartment in many respects, calling to mind the work of Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg or the installations of Paul Thek. In the space we find a sitting room, a sofa, various lamps and a game room as well as items typical of a bathroom. However, the domestic objects cannot fulfil their promise of utilitarian value: the lamps and seating are made out of pretzels and beer bottles, whilst the living room carpet absorbs the couch and the bathroom resembles an improvised artists laboratory. Czudej uses the objects to stage bizarre deformations of reality, which raise questions about both the everyday unconscious and modes of perception.

    At the entrance to the exhibition is a queue formed from retractable barriers laid out as a maze; reducing the traditional logic of boundary and wayfinding systems to absurdity. The artist sees this intervention as representative of our willing and often unquestioning engagement with systems of social control. At the entrance to the maze waits the ostensible single inhabitant of the apartment: a life-size balloon figure that signifies to the viewer that this is perhaps a game, and things might not seem as they appear. The installation also functions as satirical commentary on the spectacular and grandios application of these barriers as an exhibition tool to contain and excite the spectator before viewing work.

    While the works in the central exhibition space have been merged into a narrative installation, the objects on the lower level at first resemble a more stringent formal presentation. These pieces have been installed on sand and stone pedestals, that mimic museological forms of display and correspond to the apparently classical theme of Czudej’s sculptures. With their fluid interweaving forms, the objects formally play on Eduardo Chillida’s iron sculptures, although the artist undermines the gravity and monumentality of the Spanish sculptor’s works by integrating figurative details. The faces and hands that interact with the forged twisted metal invest the works with a comic-like quality, which not only corresponds to Czudej’s general search for narratives, but also shifts the focus to discussions surrounding authorship and gender roles.

    Czudej’s new film, which will be shown in the cinema of the Kölnischer Kunstverein, complements the exhibition and represents a new facet in the artist’s work. It documents the day to day experience in one of American’s oldest foundry’s where Czudej makes her Iron and Bronze sculptures. The film alternates between the banal and the explosive moments of foundry life, suggesting both conceptual aspects and a societal study.

    Catharine Czudej’s solo exhibitions already include those at Office Baroque in Brussels (2016), Peep-Hole in Milan (2015) and Ramiken Crucible in New York (2013). She has also participated in numerous international group exhibitions, including those at Off Vendome in New York (2016), Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich (2016), Eden Eden in Berlin (2015), Zero in Milan (2014) and François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles (2014).

    On the occasion of the exhibition a limited edition will be released.

  • Solo Exhibition: Andro Wekua – Anruf, 15.4. – 19.6.2016
    Andro Wekua, Anruf, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2016, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Andro Wekua was born in Georgia in 1977. Over a period of more than ten years he has created an outstanding body of work that can be counted among the most impressive, but simultaneously also the most mysterious, contributions to recent contemporary art. Based on his own biography, which was shaped by events surrounding the civil war in his native country, Wekua’s work rotates around the question of how a personal or collective memory is formed, what the genuine substance of an individual or global memory is and what belongs to fiction, imagination and interpretation within this context. At the same time, the visual creations realised by the artist, who now lives in Germany and Switzerland, typically display a disturbing and uncanny quality and point to subconscious processes. Regardless of the given medium, Wekua’s works appeal directly to the emotional world of their viewers, although they often resist unambiguous interpretation – an aspect which actually helps fuel their unsettling effect.

    The exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein is not only the artist’s first major show in the Rhineland area but also the first significantly comprehensive presentation in Germany in the last five years. The exhibited works demonstrate the cogency of his body of work in a representative manner. Thus, in the main exhibition hall, the artist presents a complex and expansive installation that transports viewers into a dream-like world. Its central focus is formed by an untitled life-sized figure (2014), which hangs from the ceiling in a prominent location and seems to be half androgynous human and half robot. This being is balanced on its chin atop a swing-like apparatus and is thus depicted in a physically impossible position, which further intensifies its already very striking strangeness and unworldliness.

    Where this sculptural work by Andro Wekua evokes aspects of the surreal and fantastic, the untitled painting of a seascape (2016), which is placed at a significant distance opposite the figure in the exhibition hall, points to a different tradition. In this work we can recognise allusions to 19th-century British and French landscape paintings as well as their expressively conceived early 20th-century pendants. At the same time, Wekua has condensed his work into a composition in colour that renders the sea’s various temperaments tangible on a psychological level.

    Within the exhibition space the painting and the sculpture join into a single unit, whose frame is formed by the architecture which was designed specifically for them and features various segmentations and an intense tonality. The effect linked to this theatrically staged presentation could scarcely be more penetrating: as a result it directly influences those who experience it and permanently etches itself in their consciousness.

    The conglomerate of this installation is supplemented by the presentation of Andro Wekua’s filmic works, which were created between 2003 and 2012 and are presented in the cinema of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. These works are partly based on found material and partly on sequences produced by the artist himself, and they oscillate between the genres of historical documentary, horror and science fiction. The films present images between memory, dream and vision and convey an atmosphere that is no less adept at getting under viewers’ skin.

    Andro Wekua’s solo exhibitions include those at the Kunsthalle Wien (2011), Fridericianum in Kassel (2011), Castello di Rivoli in Turin (2011), Camden Arts Centre in London (2008), Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2007) and Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2006). In 2011 he was also nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie.

    The exhibition is kindly supported by:

    and Julia Stoschek Collection

  • Solo Exhibition: Uri Aran – Mice, 13.2. – 27.3.2016
    Uri Aran, Mice, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2016, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    The Kölnischer Kunstverein is pleased to present Mice, the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Uri Aran in Germany. In his sculptures, paintings, drawings, films and photographs, the artist, who was born in Jerusalem in 1977 and now lives in New York, investigates the fundamentals of language, communication and perception, the conditions of social interaction as well as the social rules necessary for this. The basis of the works are mostly simple materials, signs, forms, images and gestures, which Aran relates to each other in such a way that new contexts of meaning emerge. The constellations create the impression of being part of a narrative, without, however, being able to trace a clear narrative.

    The exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein brings together older works as well as works produced specifically for the institution and thus offers the opportunity for an intensive examination of the various facets of Aran’s work. One of the main works in the presentation is the sculpture Game (2016) installed in the large exhibition hall, which formally refers to ancient board games. The upper side of the work, made of plaster, is structured by round indentations, occasionally referring to fruit and vegetables, in which metal balls, nuts and dog biscuits can be arranged in different ways. In addition to examining the question of what criteria can be used to systematize and organize the various elements, the almost monumental-looking work reflects the idea of integrating the recipient into the work, as well as the aspect of the changeability of a sculpture.

    In contrast, Arans’ cinematic works, which flank Game in the central exhibition hall on the one hand and occupy the cinema of the Kölnischer Kunstverein on the other, allow us to understand his preoccupation with the emotional world of the recipient. A central interest here is the question of how an auditory or visual stimulus is formed and sent to evoke a certain emotional reaction. An example of this is the work Black Stallion (2011), which is the credits of the classic film of the same name by director Francis Coppola. The poignant music as well as the images of a child playing with a horse create a feeling of melancholy in the recipient that is hard to escape.

    The work Dog (2006), which shows the artist in frontal view stroking a dog while crying, with the animal – like the embrace of two people – placing its head over its shoulder, also has a similar effect. The film, which formally recalls the work I’m too sad to tell you by the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who disappeared in 1975, appeals directly to the recipient’s empathy. Inevitably, a feeling of consternation and sadness is awakened, revealing the manipulative potential of the images as well as the sound.

    If the aforementioned cinematic works appear with a certain, but by no means overly clear vehemence, Uri Aran’s paintings and drawings have a rather unobtrusive character. Yet the works, which are shown at certain points in the central exhibition hall and in the stairwell and more comprehensively on the second floor and in a graphic workroom in the basement, display a relatively wide spectrum of forms of expression. Thus the paintings and drawings oscillate between abstraction and representationalism, with clearly legible portraits or sceneries alternating with gestural or colour compositions. In this context, inscribed letters and words can be made out in the works just as easily as collaged photographs or everyday objects. The different components condense within the paintings and drawings to formulate an unfathomable secret, which can also be seen as an essential feature of Uri Aran’s other works.

    In the recent past, Uri Aran has had solo exhibitions at Peep-Hole in Milan (2014), the Kunsthalle Zurich (2013) and the South London Gallery (2013), among others. He has also participated in the Whitney Biennial (2014) and the Venice Biennial (2013).

  • Exhibition: Jahresgaben 2015, 2. – 20.12.2015

  • Solo Exhibition: Stephen G. Rhodes – Or the Unpreparedness Prometheus and Pals, 15.11. – 20.12.2015
    Stephen G. Rhodes, announcement for the exhibition Or the Unpreparedness Prometheus and Pals iat the Kölnischer Kunstverein 2015

    The installations of the artist Stephen G. Rhodes, who was born in Houston in 1977, are characterised by the use of diverse media and materials and are generally of an expansive nature. The works usually take historical events, social phenomena and art historical or film historical positions as their points of departure: the artist subjects these to analysis, compares them with alternative value systems and translates them into his own linguistic system. For his exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein – his first institutional solo exhibition in Germany – Rhodes has created a new film for the cinema as well as a complex, walk-in installation for the exhibition hall.

    The show is centred around two places whose divergent developments Rhodes has linked together within the context of his exhibition and used as the basis of a narrative. The first of these is the Bayou Corne Sinkhole, located in a swampland in the south-east of the US state of Louisiana, and the second is Malta’s Sweethaven Village. The sinkhole developed in 2012, when the fracking procedure that an American company was employing in the area led to underground cave-ins, and the above-ground terrain was pulled down into the depths. In the period that followed, hundreds of local residents were evacuated from the nearby community in order to protect them from the menace of additional cave-ins.

    By contrast, Malta’s Sweethaven Village has a less burdened background and functions, in a certain sense, as a counterpart to the American disaster site. The village was created in 1979/80 as the backdrop for the director Robert Altman’s film Popeye. Because of the expense involved, it was not torn down after shooting was completed, and this eventually resulted in the residents of the island transforming it into an amusement park.

    The world of the imagination – as it has manifested itself in the Sweethaven Village – is thus confronted with the reality of industry, which borders on the realm of the unimaginable in the case of the Bayou Corne Sinkhole. At the same time, Rhodes links the stories of the two places with the immediately topical aspect of fleeing – or, alternatively, leaving – as well as the mythological figure of Prometheus and the main characters of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.

    Stephen G. Rhodes lives and works in Berlin and New Orleans. He has had solo exhibitions at the Migros Museum in Zurich (2013) and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2010). He has additionally participated in group exhibitions, including those at the Kunst-Werke in Berlin (2015), the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco (2011) and at the New Museum in New York (2009).

  • Solo Exhibition: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili – Hollow Body, 15.11. – 20.12.2015
    Ketuta Alexi Meskhishvili, Hollow Body, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2015, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, who was born in Tbilisi in 1979 and now lives in Berlin, investigates the possibilities of photography with extreme meticulousness. There is a central interest in the diverse methods of collage, which the artist employs in a virtuoso manner. Thus, she experiments with images and materials that are found or her own, and she combines these into new constellations. In the process, she not infrequently manipulates her source material by deliberately scratching it, cutting it or leaving other manual traces behind on it. The results are captured using analogue or digital methods of reproduction; however, the images that are created usually represent only an intermediate stage. Until the final print, highly diverse methods are employed to further rework them, so that the process corresponds more to a deliberate composition than the spontaneous capturing of a moment.

    The images developed by the artist within the framework of this process range from portraits, still lifes and architectural photos all the way to abstract works, and they refer just as much to the visual idiom and aesthetics of advertising as to the recent history of photography and art. Independently of the given subject matter, many of the works are characterised by an enigmatic quality that significantly contributes to the effect which they exercise. They are brought to life by the ruptures that are both inherent to the photographs as a result of the multistage process of their production and also hold their viewers at a distance.

    Specifically for her presentation at the Kölnischer Kunstverein – the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition – Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili has developed a new group of works that encompasses both photographs and installations. In the second storey, an assortment of photographs is presented opposite a translucent curtain hanging in the well of the staircase and printed with various motifs. Taken as a whole, the various artworks provide a comprehensive impression of the complexity of Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili’s work – an artist whose pieces have drawn international attention in the recent past, for example, at the New Museum of New York.

    This exhibition is supported by the Stiftung Kunst, Kultur und Soziales of the Sparda-Bank West.

  • Solo Exhibition: João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva – The Missing Hippopotamus, 29.8. – 25.10.2015
    Gusmão+Paiva, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2015, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Situations in which the explicable and rationally comprehensible are confronted with the impenetrable represent one of the central areas of interest of the artist duo João Maria Gusmão (b.1979 in Lisbon) + Pedro Paiva (b.1977 in Lisbon). Their work consists of films, photographs and camera obscura installations as well as sculptures, and it presents physics experiments, natural processes and everyday or historical episodes. These are usually associated with mysterious and not infrequently also extrasensory aspects. The seemingly scientific, objective view of things that simultaneously defines many of their works introduces the inexplicable into our familiar reality, but without ridding it of its enigmatic quality.

    The works’ distinctive effect quickly drew substantial attention to the duo, so that the two Portuguese artists are already able to look back on an impressive history of exhibitions. They have thus exhibited at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco (2008), at the IKON Gallery in Birmingham (2010), at the Kunsthaus Glarus in the Swiss town of Glarus (2012), and at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2014), among other institutions. In 2009 they also represented Portugal at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

    In the context of the exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein the duo’s sculptures will be placed in the foreground for the first time. These have been presented only rather rarely in previous exhibitions, and in the recent past they have taken on increasing importance in the practice of Gusmão + Paiva. As in their films and photographs, the Portuguese duo also use this specific group of works to examine our relationship to reality and to turn it upside down with great subtlety, meticulousness and – not least – with humour, as well. The works are generally cast in bronze and deal with everyday objects, scientific instruments, architecture and animals, among other things. These are subjected to a sometimes surreal semantic shift by means of unusual and occasionally contradictory constellations.

    The sculptural works to be placed in the pavilion are supplemented by new works on film, which were conceived specifically for the cinema and for the Riphahnsaal of the Kölnischer Kunstverein and can be seen as prime examples of the two artists’ exploration of the moving image. A camera obscura has additionally been planned for the lower level of the institution: in this way the exhibition will not only provide an opportunity for visitors to occupy themselves with Gusmão + Paiva’s sculptures in greater depth, it will also plainly demonstrate the relationship between this specific group of works and the other areas of their artistic body of work.

    This exhibition is supported by the Kunststiftung NRW.

  • Solo Exhibition: Petrit Halilaj – ABETARE, 17.4. – 2.8.2015
    Petrit Halilaj, ABETARE, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2015, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Please notice the exhibition pauses: 17 April – 7 June / 18 June – 2 August 2015

    In installations, drawings and films Petrit Halilaj (*1986) deals with the experiences he gathered in this period: with a great capacity for empathy, he examines thematic complexes including homeland, memory and identity. At the same time there is always something universally valid bound up with the artist’s works, which resemble a materialisation of the world of the storytellers. In this way they speak to and lastingly touch their viewers, regardless of those viewers’ relationship to the recent history of south-eastern Europe.

    For the exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Halilaj has created an entirely new group of works related to his former school in Runik (Kosovo). The artist has used thin steel rods to reproduce greatly enlarged versions of doodles and drawings once left behind by pupils on the seats and desks of the classrooms. In spite of their clearly sculptural form, the objects still preserve a graphic character and develop an effect suggesting delicate drawings in space. The depicted motifs include houses, hearts, birds, flowers, cars, aeroplanes, rockets and rifles, and they are simultaneously witness to the hopes, yearnings and dreams and to the doubts, fears and worries of the children and adolescents of that time. In the exhibition Halilaj concentrates the individual objects into a complex installation in such a way that the thoughts reflected in the sculptures overlap and become interwoven with one another.

    Along with the sculptures and installations, Halilaj is also presenting a new film and a series of prints, which are likewise related to the artist’s former school; however, they draw attention more towards the aspect of the educational institution’s authority.

    Wednesday, 29 April, 7pm: lecture by Petrit Halilaj about his exhibition
    Sunday, 10 May, 3pm: tour with Moritz Wesseler and Rein Wolfs through the Petrit Halilaj exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
    Sunday, 17 May, 3–5pm: children’s workshop on the exhibition for International Museum Day
    (please make a reservation:
    Sunday, 17 May, 3pm / 5pm: tours through the exhibition by Petrit Halilaj
    Wednesday, 20 May, 7pm: tour with Moritz Wesseler and Rein Wolfs through the Petrit Halilaj exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein

    A collaboration between the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, and the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne. The first comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work will appear on the occasion of the exhibitions.

    With kind support of Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung.

  • Solo Exhibition: Ryan McLaughlin – Lacus PM, 6.2. – 22.3.2015

    Opening: Thu, 5 February 2015, 5 pm
    Exhibition: 6 February – 22 March 2015

    With Lacus PM the Kölnischer Kunstverein presents the first institutional solo exhibition of the US-American painter Ryan McLaughlin. The artist, who was born in 1980 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and now lives in Sunapee, New Hampshire, has produced an outstanding body of work in recent years, which will be presented in Cologne on the basis of eight works from 2012 to 2015. The works, most of which were produced with oil paint on MDF and canvas, have something unpretentious about them, which is not only due to the use of the reduced, unobtrusive color palette. The small size of the works, which ranges between the format of a cigar box and that of a theatre or cinema poster, also contributes to this impression. While a few years ago McLaughlin’s works often featured still lifes or depictions of more or less familiar-looking figures and everyday objects in a comic-like manner – as for example in Chicken Rabbit (2012), the earliest painting in the exhibition – the motifs of most of the works assembled in Cologne can be categorized less clearly. Much of the work is shadowy, seems as if hinted at, and can only be categorized more clearly in the course of a catchy observation. Occasionally, the German-language titles offer an orientation to gain access to the paintings or their contents. The title Weather (2014), for example, complements the sketchy representation of a map of Germany with corresponding symbols for sun or rain as familiar from daily newspapers. In contrast, the painting Wasserbetriebe (2014) can be understood as a reference to the Berlin waterworks, as in the work a part of the official lettering of the utility company is adapted, which among other things meets the depiction of a dripping tap as well as a historical steamship. The confrontation with symbols and lettering of our everyday and commodity world – as is also shown by the use of the logo of the Seitenbacher company, which specializes in natural foods, in the work entitled Dinkel (2014) – seems to form an essential starting point for the American’s current works, which initially connects him formally with the tradition of Pop Art. But where the American art movement focused on the constant repetition and reproduction of mostly well-known sign systems and icons, McLaughlin rather focuses on peripheral symbols and lettering in order to transfer them into the realm of abstraction through their schematic representation. The preoccupation with abstract painting thus represents a further important aspect that characterizes the works of Ryan McLaughlin. The way in which the artist consciously distances himself from clear forms, arranges surfaces, allows different layers of paint application and the flow of the brush to become apparent, or marks the boundaries of the paintings with irregular strokes and lines, can be seen not only as a further important factor in the special appeal of the works, but also as an allusion to history and the various forms of European and American abstraction. Moreover, these specific characteristics of the works also reveal an interest in the question of what constitutes a painting and how it can be read or deciphered. These conceptual trains of thought form the background of the works assembled in Cologne, against which Ryan McLaughlin formulates convincing paintings that have an inherent quiet, unobtrusive power.

  • Solo Exhibition: Darren Bader – The World as Will and Representation, 6.2. – 22.3.2015
    Darren Bader, The World as Will and Representation, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 2015, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Exhibition open to public from 5 February 2015, 7 pm
    Exhibition: 6 February – 22 March 2015

    In Darren Bader’s first institutional solo exhibition in Europe, everything seems different than expected: Not only does the show at the Kölnischer Kunstverein bear three titles, beginning on February 6, but it doesn’t officially open until the 27th of the same month. The exhibits also give the impression that they are difficult to grasp. Thus, Bader plans to present some of his works from week to week in different areas inside or outside the building. Others will only be part of the exhibition for a short time.

    But it is not only the form and sequence of the exhibition that defy the supposed parameters of the exhibition. The 31 works planned for the show – including sound works, films, text works, objects and installations – also promise some surprises. For instance, Bader’s works usually correspond only to a small extent to the common notion of what a work of art is. This is only marginally due to the fact that in many of his works Bader refers back to the now more than a century old tradition of the readymade principle founded by Marcel Duchamp and declares everyday objects to be art. Of central importance in this context is rather the aspect of how Darren Bader employs the aforementioned idea and what implications are associated with the works. Many works are associated with certain conditions, tasks and challenges that define how the respective object is to be handled. In contrast to his French colleague, Bader thus integrates the recipient much more strongly into his works. In the enticing sounding work Pretty Face, which like all of the artist’s works is undated, each visitor determines individually what constitutes a “beautiful face”. The artistic contribution thus lies solely in the definition of the framework, while the recipient has the task of making a choice. Depending on the visitor, the freestyle can thus be performed differently or not at all.

    Questions of authorship, as evoked in Pretty Face, also characterize works such as To Have and to Hold – object J1, in which the – mostly optional – tasks and possibilities of the owner are brought to bear even more clearly: The work is based on the idea that the owner of the work acquires a book of Candida Höfer’s photographs of On Kawara’s date images, studies it for a year, collects further copies of the publication for as long as desired, and finally introduces them into the everyday life of other people. The manifestation of the work is thus by no means static, but – depending on the collector – in a constant process.

    A different form of dealing with questions of authorship is also evident in the work 110 x 5 x 166.5 cm, which is a photograph of a boy in the dimensions given. In order to realize this work, Bader did not work as a photographer, but bought the work of a colleague, which he subsequently passed off as his own creation, thereby re-declaring the photographic work as a sculpture. Inevitably, this act not only demonstrates a critical examination of the mechanisms of the art market, but also a shrewd investigation of when and how something becomes a work.

    The thoughts reflected in the works mentioned go far beyond the classical conceptual art with which Darren Bader’s work is repeatedly related. Especially the moments of the absurd, which can be traced in many of the pieces, represent a clear distinguishing feature from the art movement founded in the 1960s. The absurd and ludicrous nature of some of the works rather points in the direction of Surrealism, which becomes recognizable as an important influence in the course of a more intensive examination of Bader’s practice. This circumstance is particularly evident in a group of works for which Bader combines opposing objects, concepts and thoughts to form pairs, thus referring back to a strategy formulated by the French avant-garde movement at the beginning of the 20th century. In the context of the exhibition, this group includes perfume with/and trapezoid, pair of jeans and/with $228, patella with/and theater tickets, sugar and/with axe as well as glasses with/and glasses, for which any number of representatives of the various objects can potentially be used. The everydayness of the objects used makes it possible to discern a strong difference to the works of Surrealism, as they were usually conceived more clearly than works of art.

    The fact that Bader uses found objects for the majority of his works makes it difficult in many cases to capture objects with certainty as exhibits. This factor therefore also gives an idea of the endeavour to sound out the boundaries between art and non-art and, if necessary, to dissolve them completely. At the Kölnischer Kunstverein, the American artist takes the aforementioned ambitions to the extreme with works such as person sitting in passenger seat of car, for which at certain times – as the English term implies – someone sits in the passenger seat of a car in front of the exhibition house. Without the knowledge of the work, one would thus inevitably overlook the work of art and perceive the scenery – if at all – as an everyday situation.

    If person sitting in passenger seat of car is a successful balancing act between the visibility and invisibility of a work, Bader pursues completely different goals with the film OSS, which was produced especially for the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Darren Bader wrote the screenplay for the animated science fiction film, which is about a whimsical and comical competition at the United Nations, in which the proposal to build sculptures for space is drawn by lot. In keeping with the bizarre traits of his other works, his cosmic works are also somewhat strange, as they include a football stadium, thousands of cubes of frozen cow’s milk or a gigantic human hand that will be sent into space in the distant future. With OSS, Darren Bader thus offers an absurd theatre that can be located somewhere between a fantastic vision of the future, belief in the unlimited possibilities of art and over-ambitious art films. At the same time, with OSS he expands the spectrum of his artistic practice, the complexity of which one has hardly been able to master up to now anyway.

    In addition to OSS, the sound work audio files, also produced especially for the Kölnischer Kunstverein, opens up new categories within Darren Bader’s oeuvre: On 32 loudspeakers, Bader presents almost simultaneously hundreds of pieces of music relating to the Old Testament, his credit card number, Hegel’s dialectic, noble gases or the ingredients of a Linzer Torte, among other things. The result of this unusual interplay is a deafening roar that turns the recipient’s head with immense force and perhaps gives an inkling of the noise that arises when Darren Bader, with a great deal of humour, brings down the boundary walls between Conceptual Art, Surrealism and other art forms.

  • Solo Exhibition: Annette Kelm – Staub, 7.11. – 21.12.2014
    Annette Kelm, Staub, Kölnischer Kunstverein 2014, Installation view, photo: Simon Vogel

    Opening: Thursday, 6 November 2014, 7 pm
    Exhibition: 7 November – 21 December 2014

    Annette Kelm was born in Stuttgart in 1975 and is among the most outstanding female representatives of a younger guard of photographers who have drawn international attention through a new perspective on the world. With her individual photos and series depicting arrangements of everyday objects, portraits, architecture and landscapes or seemingly unusual narratives, Kelm creates images which she uses not only to expose how our perception and our vision function, but also to reflect upon cultural and sociopolitical topics.

    In spite of the conceptual components that characterise the artist’s work, these photographs are defined by a subtle – but simultaneously touching – emotionality and temperament which make them into fascinating and lastingly resonant images.

    At the Kölnischer Kunstverein, particular emphasis will be placed on the artist’s work during the last five years, which will be presented through a representative selection of works, some of which will be shown publicly for the first time.

    A publication will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.

    Guided Tours through the exhibition:

    19 November, 5 pm with Moritz Wesseler
    17 December, 5 pm with Carla Donauer

    Supported by:

  • Solo Exhibition: Andra Ursuta – Scytheseeing, 28.6. – 30.9.2014
    Andra Ursuta, Scythseeing, Kölnischer Kunstverein 2014, Installation view, photo: Uli Holz

    The apparently mummified body of a woman, threatening scythes, models of the artist’s parents’ house, deformed concrete bunkers, inflatable fists made of cloth or anthropomorphic obelisks – the work of Andra Ursuta, who was born in Salonta (Romania) in 1979 and lives in New York, consists primarily of sculptures and installations that take on their unsettling and haunting effect through their dark, sometimes morbid or martial symbolism as well as their allusions to past and present systems of power and violence.

    The points of departure for Ursuta’s works are usually provided by personal experiences and memories connected with her Eastern European roots, the cultural codes of Romania and her family history. The artist links these with impressions from the present and with current topics. Images and ideas that have etched themselves into the collective consciousness or into the artist’s own individual consciousness take on a new existence in these works – one that is disconcerting and sometimes disturbing for viewers. At the same time, her works are in no way conceived in terms of provocations; instead, they are full of art historical and cultural historical references. A seemingly uprooted column of wood constructed of rhomboidal elements and featuring a deadly tip stirs memories not only of Constantin Brâncuși’s La colonne sans fin (Endless column), 1918–1938, but also of the brutal atrocities of the Romanian ruler Vlad III – Drăculea, who indulged his taste for execution by impalement in the mid 15th century, during the struggle of resistance against the Ottoman Empire. Through its coating in black rubber, the object entitled Ass to Mouth is additionally provided with sexual connotations, resulting in an oscillation between very different perceptual possibilities.

    In Ursuta’s works the exploration of the human psyche and its emotions, yearnings and obsessions as well as fears and nightmares finds an echo that is no less direct than that of her own biography, social role models and cultural conventions.

    With Scytheseeing Kölnischer Kunstverein is presenting not only Andra Ursuta’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany, but also the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to be shown to date in Europe: in addition to a group of pieces created specifically for the exhibition, Ursuta is exhibiting a selection of works which make it possible to grasp the development of her artistic body of work in recent years.

    Ursuta has recently participated in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) and group exhibitions at MoMA PS1 (2013) and in New York’s New Museum (2011) as well as through solo exhibitions at Milan’s Peep-Hole (2014) and at Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum (2014).

    Tours of the exhibition: 2 July, 5pm, with Moritz Wesseler, and 6 August, 5pm, with Carla Donauer