- Digital Formats
ifa presents an exhibit from its Touring Exhibitions. In the Touring Exhibitions ifa presents contemporary art from Germany worldwide. After years of travelling through international museums, the exhibitions are transferred to the ifa's art collection, which houses several thousand works of art—works ranging from Rebecca Horn to Gerhard Richter, from Helga Paris to Marcel Odenbach.
With the exhibition 'Weltreise' (Travelling the World), curated by Matthias Flügge and Matthias Winzen, for the first time a comprehensive and at the same time exemplary insight into ifa's exhibits was given. The exhibition was opened in 2013 at ZKM in Karlsruhe, and has since been presented at nine locations—as its journey around the world continues!
The series 'Artwork of the Month' is intended to expand access to ifa's invisible art collection and offer a glimpse 'behind the scenes'. The 'Artwork of the Month' will be presented as the original in ifa Gallery in Stuttgart and will be published digitally.
A conspiratorial circle, or a moment of discharging before mutual attack?
Eight black panthers are seated opposite each other in a circle. Nobody is allowed in their midst. Frozen in polyester is not only the moment of snarling: their bodies are life-size and identical in appearance. This moment of muscular tension is contrasted by a high, shelf-like white platform with eight small white figures. They are replicas of devotional objects depicting St. Catherine of Siena, holding a lily and a rosary. The intermediate spaces give rhythm to the ensemble, which is also arranged in a circle, and make it appear to be in motion.
Viewed individually, the figures appear strangely familiar. If you search for the term 'panther sculpture' on the internet, you will find numerous variants of decorative figures, made of either shiny porcelain or artificial stone. The artist Katharina Fritsch took one of these mass-produced commodities as a model and enlarged it many times over. Her inspiration is the everyday: she doesn't devalue decorations, knick-knacks or devotional items, but rather elevates them through an elaborate manufacturing process and perfectly symmetrical staging.
The circular shape and symmetrical arrangement of identical objects, which have become Fritsch's basic motif, let familiarity tip over into the mysterious and uncanny. The monochrome matt black of the panthers, which absorbs all light and prevents the surroundings from being reflected, and the super-elevated snow-white devotional figures, reinforce this ambivalent moment between familiarity and repulsion, wit and anxiety.
The combined presentation of Fritsch's Panther and shelf with 8 figures and her earlier work Wühltisch (Bargain Table) (1987/89) was part of the ifa touring exhibition 'Embodied Logos: 14 women artists from Germany'. Panther and shelf with 8 figures has been on view in the ifa exhibition 'Travelling the World' since 2013. In 1995 Katharina Fritsch showed her extensive work Museum alongside works by Martin Honert and Thomas Ruff at the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Text: Laura Wünsche
An orange tracing paper dominates almost the entire collage. The paper shows various signs of use; it is folded, crumpled and smoothed out again. Lines resulting from the folding run straight across the entire paper or form a tangle of ramifications. The glossy surface reflects light in all directions.
At the top left of the collage can be seen a series of blue pencil dots. Each individual point has its peculiarities, is more or less extended, has a direction, or stays where it is. The individual rows of the series form waves that merge into one another and, finally, are submerged into the orange. In the background, a network of dark lines shows through from the back of the paper. Layers of different, transparent materials overlap in the work. In the centre is a piece of white paper, torn off on one side in a wavy line.
Hanns Schimansky is a draftsman, and as such an inventor, discoverer and researcher. He develops his formal language from observing his surroundings. The coast on which he grew up and the city in which he lives provide him with diverse ideas. His drawings constantly reformulate his observations, varying, abbreviating and experimenting with them.
Schimansky concentrates himself with all his senses on the medium of drawing. He is one of those artists who have dedicated themselves entirely to working with and on paper. For him, drawing is a direct, purposeful treatment of the medium. Being a draftsman means for him setting something against the dizzying media world – slowing down.
The ifa art collection includes 11 collages by Hanns Schimansky, which he created in the early 1990s. Another drawing from 1983 comes from the holdings of the Centre for Art Exhibitions of the GDR, whose collection was merged with that of ifa after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The obsidian is not a metaphor. Facing a lap-top, the volcanic stone is the projection surface for a ceremony in the Dahlem Archive, which should only be seen through relations in opacity; the images projected were not meant to be shown in direct light or unfiltered, or exposed to mass-media. Like a painting from the Dutch school, only a few viewers can approach the installation. Obsidiano takes the video back to the space of painting, even though film as a medium was meant to project moving images to the masses. Due to the reduced viewing space and the video’s short duration, the public is obliged to move towards the obsidian and to rotate. In this way, the installation’s screening inverts the role of film (for example, cinema): Instead of reaching the masses, the obsidian attracts the viewers to it, taking them to the temporality of ceremonial space.
The chants of Mara’akame1 Dionisio in Berlin’s anthropological museum made the institution tremble. During the ceremony, the museum was stripped bare from the aura of classification and knowledge that it usually represents. Dionisio’s presence transformed the space in which the offerings and ceremonial utensils were located and thus took off the museum’s mask of 'otherness'.
'Obsidiano' opens a ceremonial space between the obsidian and the lap-top, a space in which the viewer’s body becomes a medium for interaction, allowing participation and exchange. Through the body, the viewers sense how colonial structures fracture, social relations transform and social representations are re-made.
The installation 'Obsidiano' was created in 2006 and acquired in 2016 for the exhibit 'Politics of Sharing: On Collective Wisdom'. The exhibit was developed as a co-production between the ifa Galleries and the Artspace Auckland in New Zealand. In January 2021, 'Obsidiano' will be shown again at the ifa Gallery Stuttgart in the context of the exhibit 'A Natural Order of Things. Lothar Baumgarten. Gabriel Rossell Santillán'.
Text: Andrea Meza Torres
Andrea Meza Torres completed her doctorate at Humboldt’s Institute of European Ethnology (Berlin); from 2016 to 2018 she was Postdoctoral Fellow at the CEIICH of the UNAM, in Mexico City, where she researched about the topic 'Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue from a Decolonial Perspective'.
1 Mara’akame (which has been translated into Spanish as 'Cantador' by the Wixáritari community) is a person with a special task within the Wixáritari community. A Mara’akame communicates with other subjects through singing in ceremonies. The subjects can be of human or non-human nature, alive or not alive.
This doesn’t look like a tasty, healthy salad. If we strip off the individual layers of Dieter Roth's 'Gemischter Kopfsalat', do we get to the heart of the work, to the issues that have occupied the artist throughout his life? Or do we end up standing in front of just a collection of confused ideas?
Alone the different printing techniques and number of colours used depict the complex nature of the work: screen printing, lithography, etching in zinc and drawing, in twelve colours on Hahnemühle handmade paper. The layers superimposed on each other result in an impenetrable tangle of information. The round shape that fills the print is reminiscent of the two halves of a brain. In the course of viewing the image, we see new details, but have difficulty extracting them from the grey matter. Just as it is sometimes with our own thoughts.
Dieter Roth was at home in all the genres of art. He worked as a visual artist, book designer, musician and filmmaker, poet and author. He became known for his works made of transitory materials that undergo a process of gradual change and decay. In the print 'Gemischter Kopfsalat', he addresses these processes of dissolution on a visual level.
Roth was engaged in several exhibitions for ifa, including 'Fluxus' and Travelling the World. Art from Germany. 'Gemischter Kopfsalat' was created as a print run for ifa.
A young man having a siesta with his hand on a gun.
He is not the only sleeper in the ifa-touring exhibition 'Rosemarie Trockel': a man stretched out on top of his car, a boy resting his head on the table, a skull with eyelids closed.
In the history of art, the horizontal, resting depiction of men is rare. Also the famous sculpture 'The Thinker' of Auguste Rodin, in seating position, is not entirely passive: the arms are muscular, indicating action.
In the north-Italian town Cividale del Friuli, I passed by the Duomo. There are angels depicted on the frescos with their eyes closed as if sleeping. Sleeping angels. Isn't everyone an angel while they are asleep?
To watch someone sleeping is special. The sleeping person is not really there in the physical world but is somewhere else, in a different state of being.
The wading bird falls asleep as soon as it encounters contradictory impulses. 'Sleep is undoubtedly the most sensual form of protest,' says an Anonymous Anarchist in a fanzine.
In 1999, at the Venice Biennial, Rosemarie Trockel installed cots in the German pavilion in which visitors could take a nap. The installation was called 'Sleeping Pill'. Are some things better experienced in a drowse?
An Paenhuysen is art historian and art critic. Since 2016 she travels with the exhibition Rosemarie Trockel. Selected drawings, objects and video works, giving talks, workshops and guided tours. The ifa-exhibition is on tour since 2003.
The exhibition was supposed to open on 29 May 2020 at the Zarya Center for Contemporary Art in Vladivostok, Russia. Due to the Corona Pandemic, this venue had to be cancelled.