The New

May 21st to July 17th 2016
Opening: May 20th 2016, 7:30 p.m.

The new is a category that is difficult to grasp theoretically, in part because nobody is responsible for it. If aesthetics are namely traditionally responsible for “the beautiful”, ethics for “the good”, and philosophy for “the true”, which theory would then be accountable for “the new”? In practical terms as well, the new is something in the air rather than something that can in fact be made manifest. Especially in the field of art the new was long remarkably consistent as regards the modes in which it articulates itself: overbidding, shock, decisionism. International post-war ‘modernism’ drafts, sufficiently oedipal, the new as the final and universal, setting a still ongoing scenario of anti-oedipal oriented endgames into motion. The break with convention and the casting of tradition overboard make up, for its part, a veritable “tradition of the new”. 

With a view to the news, it seems as if mobile telephone and computer manufacturers, fashion and the military were the most likely guarantors of the new. But how new are in fact the innovations recommended in pretty frequent intervals by that corner? Please do not answer before the next software update.

That is why contemporary art, which now dedicates itself – even with its name as contemporary art – to the present more than ever before, and in doing is willing to sacrifice its past and future, is out of the question in this regard. That would at least be “different” compared with half a century ago and it seems that even if the structure of art is not changing to a considerable extent, its sociological conditions and cultural effects are. In the process, the increasing desire for the new and its inconceivability have until now stubbornly balanced each other out. 

As a general rule one could say that only a few are required to herald the new and perhaps not many more to realise it. But almost as soon as the new has become widespread it is no longer new. In this sense, the new has always already been an old hat. And in any case it is also a myth that the new is achieved in a fundamentally progressive dynamic.

Conceived by the Stuttgart-based graphic designer, artist and teacher Michael Dreyer (Merz Akademie, Stuttgart) and Hans-Jürgen Hafner (Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf) in consultation with the artist and filmmaker Alex Wissel, The New is not an exhibition in the narrowest sense but is formed discursively from a pattern of diverse event formats with public venues in the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and with a temporary presentation Das Gespenst der Freiheit. 15 Einreichungen for the staff of the WDR at the broadcasting company’s Cologne headquarters.

The New incorporates historical objects, current artistic, filmic, artistic and performative works, lectures and, if time and money don’t run out, a digital finding aid. The thematic project inquires about present views on the concept of the new and finds a point of comparison in the extensive popularisation of the new in art, music, theatre and architecture as it was distinguished the immediate post-war phase in Germany known as the phenomenal first years of the so-called economic miracle.

Participants: Vela Arbutina, Mary Bauermeister, Otto Coester, Revital Cohen und Tuur van Balen, Michael Dreyer, Henry Flynt, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Hans G Helms, Felix Klopotek, Norbert Kricke, Martin K. Pedersen, Marina Pinsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen und Alex Wissel


Press Download

Installation Views 2016, Photography Katja Illner

The Phantom of Liberty. 15 proposals

an exhibition by Alex Wissel

from Friday, 3rd to 17th of June

The Phantom of Liberty.15 proposals is an exhibition for the staff of the WDR in the headquarters of  Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (Appelhofplatz 1, 50667 Köln) from 3rd  to 17th of June, conceived by Alex Wissel for the exhibition The New at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf.

Jazz Bar, Björn Beneditz, Anna-Sophie Berger, Ben Kaufmann, Lukas Goersmeyer und Oliver Kohlmann, Claudia Kugler, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Calla Henkel und Max Pitegoff, Jutta Riedel, Henning Fehr und Philipp Rühr, Julia Scher, DIY Church - Ernst Markus Stein, Studio For Propositional Cinema, Tobias Hohn und Stanton Taylor, Yael Salomonowitz und Alex Wissel

Entrance only with employee ID card.

Public tours according to arrangement by Sara Dietrich to a collective appointment.

Alex Wissel (*1983 Aschaffenburg) lives and works in Düsseldorf. From 2004 to 2010 he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Albert Oehlen, Martin Gostner and Rosemarie Trockel and at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts Lyon. He is well known as an initiator of several projects like the Oktoberbar or the Single-Clubs.

Installationsansichten 2016, Foto Katja Illner


The exhibition The New is generously supported by the Kunststiftung NRW.

With the support of Sammlung Deutsche Bank, as lender, it is possible for us to present the work orthogonal, 1980 by Norbert Kricke in the exhibition.