- 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.
Sketched lines, heading to a vanishing point, open up a space, the idea of a landscape. A cocoon-like body dominates the sheet of paper. It is intensified by blurred lines of ferric chloride. Other grey smear marks move towards and into the body. Within, there is another round shape, which forms a kind of centre of the work. A space towards which all lines flee and in which their energies are concentrated. This drawing by Beuys conveys 'information about energy bodies'. This information, however, is rendered accessible not through words but through simple lines on a piece of paper.
In his theory of 'Social Sculpture', Beuys formulates the idea that every human being can contribute to the well-being of the community through creative action and thus exercise a plastic, formative and transformative effect on society. 'The only revolutionary force is the force of human creativity' (Beuys). In his drawings, as Beuys himself repeatedly emphasized, he developed his theories and ideas as an illustration of shaping forms of thoughts. His graphic works are thought-images that are accessible on a sensual level. In the present drawing, viewers can put themselves in the concrete position of the energy bodies, which Beuys could also have realized as installations in physical space.
The drawing 'Information about energy bodies' was shown in the ifa touring exhibition 'Beuys: Drawings, Objects and Prints.' The exhibition started in Sydney in 1990 and, after 44 stops on over five continents, ended in Naples in 2004. What does it mean for an artistic work to travel so far and be seen in so many countries? And what do these drawings mean for us today, almost 65 years after they were made?
For the anniversary of the artist's 100th birthday, which takes place this year, Beuys's drawings will be brought into dialogue with contemporary positions represented by Andrea Acosta, Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Sara Ouhaddou in the ifa gallery Berlin.
The relationship between body, material, time and space is at the core of Franz Erhard Walther's work. It is these basic categories that the artist has been working on in a new and very unique way since the 1960s, starting with his 1st Work Set (1963-1969). A pioneer of participatory art, he considers the viewer to be part of the work being created.
The objects of the 1st Work Set are made of cotton, foam and wood and their dimensions relate to the human body. In interaction with the objects, the visitor's body can become a sculpture and action becomes a work form ('Werkform'). At the same time, viewers can also activate the objects in their minds. Their thinking, their language, their perception, fantasies and emotions in time and space can serve as material for the work.
Walther has expressly named the drawings for 1st Work Set 'work drawings'. For him, they have a claim to being independent artistic works parallel to work actions ('Werkhandlungen'), despite their fragmentary character.
In his statements, Walther emphasizes the diversity of the drawing as sketch, notation, draft, plan drawing, construction, autonomous drawing, and diagram. Many of these drawing methods can also be found in the work drawings. Terms, linguistic formulations of courses of action, representations of actions, graphic elements and pictorial surfaces overlap and form their own graphic language.
Works by Walther can currently be seen in the touring exhibitions The Event of a Thread and Travelling the World. Art from Germany. ifa has also organized a tour of the monographic exhibition Franz Erhard Walther. Workpieces Drawings from 1991 - 1993.
The close-up monumentally enlarges a face; only the neutrally closed mouth, the nose and slightly upward-looking eyes are shown. The individual visual layers appear to be x-rayed. The image information is coarse-grained and inscribed on the image carrier in black and red.
For her work MATON, Katharina Sieverding used a passport photo of herself taken in a photo booth. The original image has been repeatedly photographed and reworked into a mask that glistens before the viewer. As a result of this transformation, the self-portrait has increasingly lost its individuality. The actual portrait character of the picture now blurs into the general and has become a projection surface for the viewer. Familiar categories break open; what is seen can no longer be easily classified.
The title MATON refers to the photo booth, the Photomaton, developed by Anatol Josepho and presented to the world in 1925; but the French meaning of the word 'maton' – prison guard – also opens up a way into the work.
Sieverding has significantly developed the expressive possibilities of photography since the 1960s. Her self-portraits have always been a central motif in treating the medium. Her works question conventional identity and gender constructions.
MATON was acquired by the ifa in 1992 for the exhibition FotoKunst and is currently on tour in the exhibition Travelling the World. In 1997 the ifa accompanied Sieverding's contribution to the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The exhibition was curated by Gudrun Inboden and also showed the work of Gerhard Merz.
Faces against neutral, monochrome backdrops. Soft light. Sober. The portraits are reminiscent of passport photos. The people portrayed are seen in profile, in half profile, or in frontal view. What do they reveal about themselves? Thomas Ruff, one of Bernd and Hilla Becher's best-known students, took a strictly conceptual approach to his series: each subject looks into the camera with a neutral facial expression. The social surroundings are faded out, appearance and clothing remain. What conclusions can be drawn about character?
As Thomas Ruff himself says, the inner truth of a person can never be represented in a picture. Images are constructs. To become aware of this is something Ruff constantly reminds the viewers of in his works.
The 40 photographs in the series were taken between 1983 and 1987 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and show his fellow students in a living situation similar to his own. What are the characters and life stories of these art students?
The facial features, the hairstyle, the make-up, the jewellery and the clothing afford a view of the surface, but not the 'inner truth' of the person. In these days, the series evokes associations of virtual meetings at which everyone, frontal and flat, has taken care to leave out the home life with which every single person is connected.
Since the end of the 1980s, Ruff has opted to work with a neutral white background and to present his portraits in monumental format, far larger than life. The photo series 'Young People' marks the beginning of his international fame.
Works by Ruff have been on tour for ifa in the exhibition 'Traveling the World' since 2013. In 1995, ifa supported Ruff's contribution to the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which was curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann and also showed works by Martin Honert and Katharina Fritsch.
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.
A street lost in fog. Here and there people walk on the wide pavements. An advertising sign hangs on a façade eaten away by time: 'Werner Wendt, Hat Shapes Model Making, Ground-Floor'. Parked on the street, one after another, almost always the same car model. A pigeon flies into the grey nothingness.
The calm gaze with which Helga Paris captured her neighbourhood in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, is characteristic of her photographs. They have a simple poetry that lets the viewer feel the familiarity and social empathy with which Paris shows everyday life in the GDR. Her interest and affection belong to the proletarian milieu of the big city.
Paris is a self-taught photographer and first took pictures of her children, then family, friends and neighbours. Coming from a working-class family, she possesses the ability to get close to the people around her, in the corner bars and in the streets. During these encounters, her camera is often invisible to the people photographed. Her friend the poet Elke Erb calls the look with which Paris meets people 'cradle honesty'.
The monographic ifa exhibition Helga Paris has been on tour since 2012. It displays the artist's photographic work created between 1968 and 2011.
Karin Sander's work 'Wandstück' is inconspicuous and hardly even noticeable. The artist has polished a rectangular surface on a wall to a high gloss. Light falling on it is reflected by the mirror-smooth spot.
Neither paint nor pigment was used to create an image. Instead, the artist sanded away a very thin layer of wall with extremely fine sandpaper. This process emphasizes the peculiarities of the wall, putting its properties into question. The wall, traditionally the bearer of the picture, becomes the picture itself – picture and wall lie on the same plane. Where does artwork begin and what is wall? With her works Sander repeatedly questions and renegotiates the basic conditions of art.
Sander has created polished wall pieces for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and for the Stuttgart State Art Gallery. They have become a kind of trademark of hers.
Sander has also created a version of 'Wandstück' for ifa Stuttgart. She selected a wall in the walk-through area in front of the 'Weltraum', a room of ifa in which public events take place. Other works of art by Karin Sander were represented in the ifa touring exhibition 'Embodied Logos: 14 women artists from Germany', and are also currently on display in the exhibition Travelling the World. Art from Germany.
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.