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Artspace Germany

The current political reality is far away to work towards a »world culture« as it was wished and claimed in different periods of time especially by philosophers and artists defining themselves as cosmopolite or “Weltbürger”. Still artists are some of the most nomadic creatures on Earth, wandering around the globe. A few are in the comfort of being part of the glossy global art-jet-set, a lot travel due to the current practice of residencies as the Roadmaps of artist’s nomadism. Nevertheless the globalization of art serves much more the aim of international discourse and exchange than the globalized economy.

“Artspace Germany” is a traveling exhibition organized by the German state-funded Institute for Foreign affairs (IFA). It shows the importance of a flexible and mobile international art-scene. The outstanding works by international artists, who lived and worked in Germany, were produced from the 70th until today.

Korean-American artist Nam June Paik studied music in Germany. He met the Composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage and the conceptual artists Georges Macunias, Joseph Beuys and Wolf Vostell. From 1962 on he was a central part of the Fluxus movement. The Candle-TV is a classic around different installations he did with TV-Screens juxtaposing the fascination and dangers of the development towards a high-tech world.

Ayşe Erkmen realized her work titled “Here and There” for the Maçka Art Gallery (Istanbul) in 1987 as part of a group show. The space was not designed as a white cube and encouraged every artist taking part in exhibitions there to produce site-specific works. The circular installation formed of metal boxes competed with the architectural organization of the gallery based on a square-form. The spatial intervention postulated the options artworks should offer as a language between the architectural and the non-architectural. In the current exhibition the metal boxes are rearranged as a composition puzzling its original form. Originally the oval shape implied a certain feminine aspect while breaking it with the metal material used. In a correspondence with the other artworks exposed in the same room the arrangement occurs like parts of a crap game being moved by undefined powers.

Magdalena Jetelova’s work “The Atlantic Wall” is displayed at the wall of the same room. It consists of ten large black-and-white photographs of bunkers on the Jutland coast. They are relics of Germany’s defence strategy during the second world war. Lasers are projected onto the constructions to form short textual phrases, descriptions of their significance, quoted from French philosopher Paul Virilio’s book Bunker Archeology.  The Atlantic Wall of bunkers, which follow the western European coast from Norway to Spain, was built between 1942 and 1943 by the Todt Organisation under General Fritz Todt and later by the Nazi’s favourite architect Albert Speer. Many of the bunkers are remarkable objects, compared by Virilio to the Egyptian mostabos, the Etruscan tombs, the Aztec structures…” and to the architectural work of Le Corbusier, but with an added “repulsiveness”. Like Ayşe Erkmen and in the late 70th Nam June Paik, Magdalena Jetelová has been teaching at several German Universities as a Professor. The Chech sculptor and photographer contributed central works to the “esthetics” of fashism and the abusive language of war.

American artist Christine Hill is a professor at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar. As a contribution to the documenta 10 in 1997 in Kassel she created a shop in the underpass to the old Kassel train station. The Volksboutique project consisted of two departments: one was an operating second-hand-shop while other products were being exhibited. The artistic installation was animated by the interactions of the viewer and the artist. The audience became the customers, the artist the seller. The installation of the People’s Boutique tried – starting from the physical presence of the individuals – to create a discussion space and a situation of the exchange of information. The “Volksboutique official template” invites the audience since 2007 to shoot a selfie and apply with a self-description to the archive of the Volksboutique.

The British sculptor Tony Cragg has lived nearly half his life in Germany, with his home and studio in Wuppertal since 1977 and a teaching post at the art academy in Dusseldorf. According to Cragg himself, his sculptures are “fictional entiteis where decisions are made entirely on an aesthetic basis,” and, somewhat contradictorily: “The material finds itself in a new form and the sculptor finds himself with new content and a new meaning.”  In the exhibition the drawings are reflecting the process of building forms out of a dialogue with the material and its estimated reactions to forming. The materialized sculptures remind gallons, mummies or DNA-strings arranged on a flying saucer.

Artspace Germany, Milli Reansürans Sanat Merkezi, Teşvikiye-Istanbul, Maçka Cad. 35, 10.1.-9.2.2019

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