Heinrich-Heine-Allee; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ralf Brög. Photo Jörg Hempel
Following its opening to the public in February 2016, Dusseldorf’s Wehrhahn line is now in full use and worth revisiting to dissect its singular aspects in more detail. Fifteen years in the making, the recently acquired U-bahn expansion is a refreshing approach to inner-city mobility and a nod to the future possibilities of public transport aesthetics. Collectively designed by artists, architects and engineers from the very outset, the ambitious project offers an unparalleled art and architecture experience to commuters who are invited to immerse themselves in soundscapes, geometric animations and sculptural installations. Here art is not merely showcased on the walls but it has deeply infiltrated the entire structure—each of the line’s six stations have become pieces of art complete with their own thematic character but also seamlessly incorporated in an all-encompassing system. And that’s certainly not the norm when it comes to public transport—the line’s overarching concept initiates a dialogue between disciplines that’s visually perceptible throughout. From acoustic impulses, sound bites and interactive installations to a planetary underworld dedicated to outer space and poetic texts transformed into sculptures, the line’s stops highly elevate the long-neglected notion of the subway. At the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station, artist Ralf Brög designed the three entrances as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions—an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible.
Space is the place at Benrather Strasse where sculptor Thomas Stricker embedded the vastness of the universe with its tranquility and weightlessness into the confined space of a subway station. To achieve the impression of flying in outer space, stainless steel panels cover the walls and lend the station a futuristic dull, metallic sheen. Like droplets, the dots stamped in the panels fall from the walls, forming a matrix or a kind of Braille that can be identified as encrypted letters while media walls act as windows to the universe.
Benrather Straße, netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Thomas Stricker. Photo Jörg Hempel
At Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation featuring a large screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface transformed through a computer program into visualised data. The constantly shifting dynamic of the ‘outside world’ is presented to those waiting for the next train below. Small virtual creatures build a temporary, fluctuating architecture from the kinetic energy that emerges and vanishes with the city’s daily rhythms.
Schadowstraße; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ursula Damm. Photos Ursula Damm and Jörg Hempel
Another crucial element of this feat is the complete absence of advertisements and any sort of commercial placement. Thus, the individual stations become calm public spaces that alleviate commuting stress, render urban movement more pleasurable, and slow down the frenetic pace. Admittedly, exemplary underground stops are nothing new in the map of so-called “art stations”—in Naples the Toledo stop covered in blue-hued mosaics pays tribute to the aquatic world; Stockholm’s Solna station emits the ambience of a villain’s lair complete with a cavernous interior; while in Moscow the Komsomolskaya stop competes with the theatrical flair of opulent palaces. What’s unprecedented about Dusseldorf’s Wehrhan line is that these “art stations” are not merely stand-alone architectural projects but are part of a holistic network that seamlessly connects all six stops under one conceptual direction, creating a multifarious experience.
In a special edition published by Kerber Verlag, the impressive undertaking in public transport is thoroughly presented through photos and text elaborating on the project and the visions of the people involved. The Wehrhahn line is also accompanied by a newly launched website that delves into the line’s concept, process and distinctive characteristics—have a look here.
In reference to this year’s graphic and thematic superstructure focusing on migration, we asked the Swiss Art Awards participants to express how their trajectory has altered their perception and how they define the notions of “Heimat” and “identity”. Constantly evolving, the term “home” can be seen as an abstract entity that has procured a number of meanings and is undoubtedly embedded in human consciousness. Even though our introduction to the idea of home is usually situated within a specific topographic context, down the line, it’s denuded of geographical connotations and acquires a much more social and emotional basis. Home ceases to be synonymous to habitat as it assumes a more existential character that demands to be redefined incessantly. In a way, seeking something that you can identify as home is seeking your own identity, something you can genuinely identify with. Much like Homer’s Odysseus who, upon losing track of what he considers home, begins to lose track of himself too. Is home a notion that defines our existence and the extension of our inner selves?
“Both notions are too unstable and dynamic to allow for a clear answer. I can just say that ‘Heimat’, and therefore any understanding of the ‘I’, are in constant mutation, much like our social milieu is. In other words, the constitution of an ‘identity’ is closer to a permanent migration than to any abused values of safety and stability.” —Pascal Schwaighofer is an artist who sees metaphors as a conceptual tool to unfold specific subjects, and ultimately to enquire the interconnections between aesthetic concepts and economic regulatory cycles.
“Migration as a fever. A symptom of the state of the world.” —Chri Frautschi is a curator and the founder of Lokal-int, a space for contemporary art and experimental happenings in Biel.
“The earth belongs to everyone. Everyone is welcome home. Fuck the concept of homeland and all populist parties stirring up hatred between peoples, just for their little personal benefit. My art is a cry of rage against conformism.” —Hayane Kam Nakache is a painter who favours recycling and the concept of DIY. According to Hayane, the quality of the finish is not important, the important thing is to do it yourself.
“In contrast to ‘fatherland’, which is linked to a geographically defined place, the word ‘home’ is more abstract idea and, to a certain extent, is related to impermanence. The possibility of change and migration has altered its meaning—now several locations or communities may constitute a ‘home’ at the same time.” — In her sculptures, video installations and performances, Dominique Koch deals with the communicative and referential limits of language and uses the voice as a communication tool.
“The word ‘Heimat’ doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore – it’s a ceaselessly moving place. Home is an institution without walls, whose architecture is not still or limited.” —Jeanne Graff, an independent curator and writer, is constantly trying to develop new contexts to show art in a way that’s engaging for both the artists and the audience.
“We are not just because we think, we are because of our human and physical context. Migration abandons pre-consolidated ideas of affection and home—that’s why I consider it particularly painful and moving.” —Martino Pedrozzi develops architectural, urban and landscape concepts and works as a consultant for infrastructural projects.
“After several generations of relative safety and stability, we often tend to lose our sense of history, and then we come to see the current crisis as a somehow distant phenomenon. Therefore, we fail to perceive that these events are at the core of our very existence. We have to take into account that identity is a process and not a fixed principle, otherwise it can be a dangerous notion.” —Aurelien Gamboni develops a practice of critical investigation by means of art, often involving field research and collaborations, and leading to multiple forms of installations, texts and lectures-performances.
Credits: House of Mixed Emotions by Jeanne Graff / Sceru, 2015, Photo: Pino BrioschiAurélien / Gamboni, Les corps attrapés par le discours, étagère encastrée, livres et autres objets (detail), 2015. Courtesy the artist
nothing at the moment by Humboldtbooks, Milan
What started as a platform for experimental publishing and singular editions straddling the line between art object and reading material, has now become an integral part of the annual Art Week Basel. The art book fair I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel now in its fifth edition, invites more than a hundred publishers, authors and artists from numerous countries to display their printed matter spanning the fields of art, photography, graphic design and architecture. An ever-growing selection of exhibitors introduces visitors to artists’ books, monographs, periodicals and zines, as well as out-of-print editions and collector’s items. Showing how the print world can evolve and thrive instead of dissolving into the shadow cast by the digital world (as many pseudo-evangelists were too quick to proclaim), the fair is an ode to the book as a democratic art form and an approachable medium for creative expression. What’s thoroughly explored here is the role of contemporary publishing in an increasingly on-screen era and how the art book provides a haven for artistic practice and how it builds a less market-driven community.
Anne Collier’s Woman Crying #1 and Woman Crying #2; courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu (ACo/F 7)
Galerie Neu presents its first solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-born, New York-based photographic artist Anne Collier, which will trace her career from the early 2000’s up until present day. As one of the most exciting artists’ emerging in the field of photography, her imagery is romantic, sentimental and clichéd. She addresses these themes using a manual 4-by-5-inch camera and chemical processing and printing, a technique overly present in recent works such as Tripod (2016) and 35 MM / 2 ¼” (2016), both which feature in the exhibition. In these works Collier mixes stock advertising photography of camera equipment with materials depicting ostentatious sexism, shot in the neutral space of her studio. In doing this, the artist undertakes an autopsy of the photographic material and subsequently creates paradox between the original intentions of the investigated objects and the absolute control of a studio photography context.
‘American Gothic’ by Rachel Harrison, 2015 courtesy of the artist; Greene Naftali, New York; and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; photo: Brian Forrest . ‘Reveal Yourself’ by Ed Fornieles, 2016, courtesy of Arratia Beer. ‘Untitled’, 2014 by Tomi Ungerer courtesy of Michael Fuchs Galerie.
Over the past decade the traditional idea of the exhibition space has shifted and developed. Existing architectural structures, which served alternate public or private functions and purposes, have taken a central role in the viewing and perception of contemporary art. This idea of the new, dynamic gallery setting, which adapts and moves with the times, has taken a central role for Gallery Weekend Berlin – where highly diverse gallery spaces serve to present works of art but also act as places for interaction and exchange between artists, gallerists, collectors and enthusiasts alike. A global plethora of contemporary works by established artists as well as promising newcomers will feature in the Twelfth edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin, with the full line-up comprising: Arratia Beer: Ed Fornieles / Galerie Guido W. Baudach: Andy Hope 1930 / Blain Southern: Harland Miller / Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi: Oscar Murillo; Stephen G. Rhodes / BQ: Jochen Lempert / Galerie Buchholz: Wolfgang Tillmans / Buchmann Galerie: Bettina Pousttchi; Daniel Buren / Capitain Petzel: Christopher Williams / Carlier Gebauer: Mark Wallinger; Iman Issa / Contemporary Fine Arts: Gert & Uwe Tobias; Christian Rosa / Mehdi Chouakri: Philippe Decrauzat / Crone: Hanne Darboven / Croy Nielsen: Sebastian Black; Megan Rooney / Delmes & Zander: Horst Ademeit / Galerie Eigen + Art: Carsten Nicolai / Konrad Fischer Galerie: Alice Channer / Michael Fuchs Galerie: Tomi Ungerer / Gerhardsen Gerner: Jim Lambie / Galerie Michael Haas: Paula Modersohn-Becker; Leiko Ikemura / Galerie Max Hetzler: Edmund de Waal / Johnen Galerie: Martin Honert / Kewenig: Ghada Amer / Kicken Berlin: Sibylle Bergemann, Rudi Meisel, Gabriele und Helmut Nothhelfer, Helga Paris, Petra Wunderlich, Ulrich Wüst / Klemm’s: Bernard Piffaretti / Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition: Rirkrit Tiravanija / König Galerie: Annette Kelm; K.H. Hödicke; Katharina Grosse, Jeppe Hein, Camille Henrot, Alicija Kwade, Michael Sailstorfer, Tatiana Trouvé, David Zink Yi / KOW: Tobias Zielony; Hiwa K / Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler: Rachel Harrison / Tanya Leighton: Aleksandra Domanovic / Daniel Marzona: Olaf Holzapfel / Mathew Gallery: Richard Phillips / Meyer Riegger: Miriam Cahn / Galerie Nagel Draxler: Egan Frantz; Günther Förg, Hans-Jörg Mayer, Martin Kippenberger, Heimo Zobernig / Galerie Neu: Anne Collier; Victor Man / neugerriemschneider: Tobias Rehberger / Galerie Nordenhake: Michael Schmidt / Peres Projects: Mike Bouchet / Galeria Plan B: Victor Man / Galerija Gregor Podnar: Julije Knifer / PSM: Eduardo Basualdo / Aurel Scheibler: Ernst Wilhelm Nay / Esther Schipper: Tomás Saraceno / Galerie Micky Schubert: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili / Galerie Thomas Schulte: Idris Khan; Daniel Buren / Société: Petra Cortright / Sprüth Magers: Thea Djordjadze; Craig Kauffman; Alexandre Singh / Supportico Lopez: Adriano Costa / Galerie Barbara Thumm: Diango Hernández / VW (Veneklasen Werner): Pat O’Neill / Galerie Barbara Weiss: Maria Eichhorn / Wentrup: Peles Empire / Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner: Per Kirkeby / Barbara Wien: Michael Rakowitz / Zak Branicka: KwieKulik.
Victor Man’s ‘Connaissez-vous des Esseintes’, 2015 and ‘Lermontov Dansant Come Saint Sebastien’, 2014; courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu
Evoking literary and cultural references, historical moments, and personal history, Victor Man is an artist and painter who proposes new connections between seemingly unrelated images, objects, and events, in order to create works that break with the traditional linear nature of composition. Drawing on notions of myth, legend, and imagination, he explores the impact of the passage of time on our personal histories and narratives and thus creates new aesthetic modes of encountering and understanding the present. Galerie Neu‘s Mehringdamm 72 is presenting an exhibition of work by the prolific Romanian painter – where along with new paintings focussing on portraiture, and a display case of handmade knives, the artist fully utilises the gallery setting as a medium intrinsic to his practice through the installation of 17th century graffiti on a Piero della Francesca fresco, which serves as a springboard for a murky set of possible narratives about artistic paternity, failure and flight.
Schinkel Pavillon present artists’ Shahryar Nashat and Adam Linder, who work collaboratively to stage two parallel projects, where they place their respective practices – sculpture and dance within an interactive dialogue. For the time-based intervention Some Strands of Support, Nashat will exhibit sculpture work paired with video, whilst Linder activates these works by responsive choreography entitled Hard Up for Support. These sculptural, filmic and performative elements are presented in a sequence and accompanied by a specially conceived sound-track. Through the collaboration and different disciplines employed, a tension is created between the ethereal presence of the performative body, film and of sculpture. The Pavilion’s Schinkel Klause is a site for artist Hannah Weinberger’s PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE – a participatory performative work, which involves an invited group of musicians who create a social space through music. Weinberg leads the musicians on atmospheric directive but keeps the door open for interpretation of individual style, and in turn creates unique performances within diverse and arbitrary concert hall environment. This concert evolves into a social experiment for the artist, where she questions the relationships between the audience and performer and creates a sensibility for our everyday aesthetic, societal and cultural relations.
Shahryar Nashat’s ‘Hard up Support’, 2016, courtesy of Schinkel Pavillon, Silberkuppe, Berlin and Rodeo, London. Hannah Weinberger’s ‘Art and Life’ at Klanginstallation, 2014.
Social, political, economic and cultural issues are increasingly being framed and contested in the public realm, and consequently city dwellers are demanding their say in the decisions affecting these public spaces. DEMO:POLIS – The Right to Public Space, the Akademie der Künste’s major spring exhibition is an ambitious inquiry into these timely issues surrounding public space. Through an exhibition format, programme of special events, interactive discussions, symposiums, and a publication DEOM:POLIS addresses the options the public has in shaping its own cities – asking questions – how can we reclaim public space and tactically use it? And how do we imbue it with new meaning? The exhibition, curated by the architect Wilfried Wang, who is the deputy director of the architecture section of the Akademie der Künste, shows spatial designs and urban planning that affects small squares to entire strips of coast. Additionally, there is documentation from demonstrations, protests and art interventions that were known to ‘safeguard’ public space, such as White American Flags by Wermke/Leinkauf. Also part of the exhibition are profiles on projects La Ventana al Mar in San Juan by Puerto Rican architect Andrés Mignucci and Sports Park Stožice in Ljubljana by Sadar + Vuga, which amongst others, are deemed extraordinary examples of negotiating Neoliberalization versus Democratization. And artists’ observations of transforming cities and the ‘future city’ also feature, as seen in the work of Michael Ruetz (Timescape) Michael Najjar (Netropolis) and Nuno Cera (Futureland). Every Tuesday the “Urban Parliament” opens a forum for debates, in which, among other aims, activists from city initiatives and visitors will prepare the “Berlin Urban Rights Charta”. During a 36-hour conference “Public Space: Fights and Fictions” from 19 to 21 May, a cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, participants from around the world will discuss the developments and threats to public space; www.adk.de/demopolis.
As the population increases so has our need to understand the architecture that caters to this – Nuno Cera is an artist known for this surveillance of urban development, and this can be seen in his multi-channel video installation Symphony of the Unknown, currently on show at the Kunstraum Botschaft, a new venue founded by the The Portuguese Embassy and the Camões Institute. Fascinated by the complexities and relationships between architectural clusters, the film captures the original visionary forces, utopian ideas and the unknown vertigo qualities of three post-war architectural complexes: Les Espaces d’Abraxas (Ricardo Bofill + Taller de Arquitectura, 1978-1983, Noisy-le-Grand, France), Barbican (Geoffry Powell, Peter Chamberlin + Christof Bon, 1965-1982, London, UK) and Quinta da Malagueira (Álvaro Siza Vieira, 1977-1998, Évora, Portugal). The work examines the history that imbues these buildings, whilst also looking at their present function and reality. Cera’s work can also be seen in DEMO:POLIS – The Right to Public Space, a major exhibition on design possibilities for public space at the Akademie der Künste.
The Kunstmuseum Basel, the world’s oldest municipal art collection, which houses over 4,000 paintings and sculptures, as well as 300,000 drawings and prints from seven decades is about to become richer in space. The main building (opened 1936) and the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart (opened 1980 and is sited in close vicinity on the banks of the Rhine) are to be complemented by the new building. The 2.740 square metre extension has been designed by renowned Basel-based architects Christ & Gantenbein and is primarily dedicated to the museum’s special exhibition programme. The extension is connected to the main building across the street by an underground passageway, and through many of its elements, it cites the rich architectural language of the main building. This is manifested in the monumental stairway with a central circular skylight, the sgraffito in the open areas of the foyer and the staircases. References to the historical building are also present in the colour qualities of the brick facade as well as the highly refined details in the materials used. Despite homage to the old building, the new extension is a standalone building with its own contemporary architectural identity. The polygonal ground plan comprises a series of well-proportioned rectangular exhibition halls. Particularly impressive are the expansive hallways (around five metres in height) that make up the basement level of the building. The new building blends harmoniously into the heterogeneous structure of Basel’s St. Alban quarter and radiates, quite literally, through the LED frieze woven into the facade, out onto the city. To coincide with the opening of the new building, the inaugural exhibition Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016 will take place. The extensive survey, curated by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi., will map the dynamic evolution of the sculptural form – from its antiquated beginnings to its contemporary context, with works by Alberto Giacometti, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Katharina Fritsch, Félix González-Torres and Oscar Tuazon on display.