© Goethe-Institut Ramallah/ Wenzl

"Questions and More Questions" – Impressions of a Workshop in Ramallah

"Questions and More Questions" was the title of a workshop by Wiebke Trunk that took place on the occasion of the Sigmar Polke ifa exhibition Music from an Unknown Source in Ramallah. The aim was to sensitise participants for the unlimited readings and interpretations of works of art.

A report by Wiebke Trunk

Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) incorporated puzzles, questions and the principle of chance into the process of creating his artworks, a way of working that goes back to the 1950s. Polke is well known in the "Western" art scene, but what about other parts of the world? ifa and art historian Wiebke Trunk wanted to find out what students of art in Ramallah would have to say about Polke's work.

The workshop was offered to students at the International Academy of Art Palestine as a part of their training programme. The aim of the first part of the workshop was to examine the various properties of specific materials used by the artist.

© Goethe-Institut Ramallah/ Wenzl

The results were noted on large sheets of paper. Then participants read through each other's notes and continued to work with new partners.

The second task involved expanding what had been noted down, commenting on it and criticising it, while developing further questions and answers. Finally, there was a general discussion of the analysis of the materials, notes on the relationship between image and material, and all further comments.

Discussing what initially seemed like a puzzling choice of material helped participants to understand Polke's work and his uncompromising way of "undermining" all conceivable "standards" in art – in particular through his choice and use of certain techniques and materials.

© Goethe-Institut Ramallah/Wenzl

The notes and ideas on networks, interweaving and dynamism culminated in a lively debate on social and political issues – all inspired by the forty gouaches by Polke in the exhibition. This was all done in the sense of the title of one of Polke's works in the exhibition: "Join in and win!"