Ulrike Müller


November 15, 2018 - February 24, 2019
Opening: Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 7.30 pm
Welcoming: Georg Kulenkampff, chairman
Introduction: Eva Birkenstock, director 

For more than a decade, New York-based artist Ulrike Müller has been deploying a variety of approaches to question the emancipatory potential of modernist abstraction. Image formats and materials from the repertoire of art history meet those with clear references to everyday life and handicraft, establishing a notion of painting beyond brush and canvas.
          With Container, her comprehensive solo exhibition at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande and Westfalen, Müller transfers some of her compositional strategies to the exhibition space. By painting the walls of the Kunstverein, the architecture has been transformed into a three-dimensional pictorial space that one walks into. It becomes a container for a dynamic approach to painting, which simultaneously activates and disrupts medium-specific expectations and limitations – as the illustration on the invitation suggests. 
          Analogous to visitors’ movements in the space, individual image elements `flit´ from one group of works to the next. They repeat themselves selectively and alternately appear in the enamel paintings, carpets, monotypes, and collages created for the exhibition in Düsseldorf. The motifs of these compositions – such as circles, curves, and triangles, or shoes, vases, and cats – often come from tangible everyday objects or found illustrations. For example, the high-heeled shoes on the carpets are taken from a cobbler’s advertising sign, which was the template for Müller's first work on enamel back in 2010. For her, drawings with such trivial content serve as templates for the industrially produced glass powder that she applied to steel plates, and then fuses in the kiln to form a hard layer of colored enamel. Or for the Rugs woven from local natural fibers by Zapotec weavers in Mexico. Lastly, the formal vocabulary characteristic of the artist appears in an accelerated way in her monotypes, the most recent group of works to be seen at the Kunstverein for the first time. This printmaking technique combines painting and drawing, thus interweaving her main approaches, while transparent, overlapping colored surfaces also animate the images.
          In Ulrike Müller’s hybrid Container, painting is encountered as a decentered, polymorphic area of tension without clear limitations. It is circled over and again to mobilize instabilities and ambiguities beyond standardized patterns of experience and classifications.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock
Curatorial assistant: Gesa Hüwe


Press kit

Installation view "Ulrike Müller – Container", Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (November 15, 2018 - February 24, 2019), photos: Katja Illner.


Sol Calero

Pica Pica

September 1st – October 28th, 2018

Opening: Friday, August 31st, 7.30 pm
Welcoming: Georg Kulenkampff, chairman
Introduction: Eva Birkenstock, director

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf is pleased to present Pica Pica, a solo exhibition by Venezuela-born, Berlin-based artist Sol Calero. Over the course of the past years, Calero has explored cultural codes, communal environments, and image production in Latin America and of the Latino communities living in migration. She transforms exhibition venues into immersive and colorful spaces of collective practice: the beauty salon, the dance class, the school, or even the setting of a telenovela, are all scenarios that she has recreated, exposing how the construction of a common paradigm is mediated by, and inseparable from, the social fabric where it is woven.

The title of her current show, Pica Pica, refers to a legend that occurred under a Lagunaria patersonia tree in Venezuela (a tree colloquially referred to as the Pica Pica tree, Spanish for ‘itchy itchy’, due to its irritating seeds). The legend tells of a shepherd named José Zambrano who falls ill and lies down in the tree’s shade to die. Another shepherd, who had just lost his cattle, sees him and surrounds his corpse with branches. He promises him a proper burial if he finds his herd. After he succeeds in finding it, he returns to keep his word. Up to today, it is believed that the Pica Pica tree with Zambrano’s resting soul is a site of granted miracles. Pica Pica became a saint-like figure of devotion, and the tree a popular place of pilgrimage, where people bring so called Milagritos (Spanish for ‘little miracles’) in return: small, often self-made object-like representations of their wishes in form of a hand, a house, or a car.

At the Kunstverein Sol Calero takes her personal memories of a chapel dedicated to José Zambrano – El Ánima de Pica Pica as the point of departure for a new body of work. The chapel was located on the way to her grandmother’s house in the Venezuelan countryside. To be granted a safe journey, one had to stop and pay respects. The interior of the chapel was full of Milagritos offered by devotees. In reference to her own memories, Calero turns the exhibition space of the Kunstverein into a utopian Pica Pica house and invites visitors to participate by creating their own representations of wishes and desires. Not at least in moments of such battering socio-economic crisis as Venezuela is suffering now, the transformative power of such spaces is of particular importance for the social negotiation of the current political reality.

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of lectures, guided tours and an artist talk. The dates will be announced soon.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock
Curatorial assistant: Gesa Hüwe

Press kit

Installation view "Sol Calero – Pica Pica", Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (September 1 - October 28, 2018), photos: Katja Illner.

Special thanks to:

Ei Arakawa

Performance People

May 12 – August 5, 2018
Opening: Friday, May 11, 2018, 7.30 pm

Welcoming: Georg Kulenkampff, chairman
Introduction: Eva Birkenstock, director

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande and Westfalen, Düsseldorf, proudly presents the first institutional solo exhibition of Japanese-born, New York-based artist Ei Arakawa. Since more than a decade, Arakawa produces and stages performances, hybrid scenarios, and erratic installations through interactions with various people and types of objects; artists, musicians, writers, and art historians as well as paintings and sculptural settings. Drawing on artistic strategies of postwar avant-gardes such as the Japanese Gutai group, Fluxus around the world, as well as New York performance art from the 70s through to the 90s, it is the repetition of art histories, the commodification of experience, the desire for authenticity, and the false intimacy of networks which he subverts in his works.

Following his exploration of painting’s performative potential in Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster for Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, Arakawa in Performance People revisits a seminal yet personal selection of performance art in order to re-evaluate the medium’s agency in our event- and influencer-driven society. He proposes an alternative reading of performance art, where its time-specificity is activated through an astrological analysis of the specific hour and place of “birth” of each work provided by American artist Sarah Chow. Thus in his new multimedia LED installation for the Kunstverein, performances like 7360 Sukiyaki by Tony Conrad (1973), May I Help You? by Andrea Fraser (1991) or Lee Lozano’s 1971 Untitled (Boycott Women) are being addressed as “persons” with their own psychological tendencies, karmic purpose, and inter-subjective will power. How do performances think and feel? How do they want to relate with you? How do they manifest their medium-specific dreams?

The rhythm of the exhibition corresponds with the Mercury transits during the months of May, June, July. Produced in collaboration with Sarah Chow and German composer Christian Naujoks, visitors will encounter radio shows, essays, music, and fictional interviews throughout the Summer. Please check the website of the Kunstverein for updates.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock

Press kit



Thursday, June 28, 7 pm
A historian's anxiety, an astrologer's confidence, an artist's mettle – Lecture

with Reiko Tomii (art historian, New York)

Sunday, August 5, 3 pm
Performance People – artist talk with  Ei Arakawa

Sunday, August 5, 4 pm
Your Favorite Sound Aspects Live! – Concert by Christian Naujoks

Thursdays, 5 pm
Performance People – Guided tours with the team of the Kunstverein


Installation view "Ei Arakawa – Performance People", Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (May 12th - August 5th, 2018), photos: Katja Illner

Special thanks to:

Kasia Fudakowski

Boiling Frogs

March 3rd – 22nd April 2018
Opening: Friday, March 2nd, 2018, 7.30 pm
Drawing on her role as an artist, Kasia Fudakowski (*1985 in London) uses self-imposed rules to push inequalities, stereotypes, and a warped social logic beyond the point of absurdity. As with the exhibition cycle Fraustellungen (Femalexhibitions), which concluded in 2015 with Sexistinnen – Excersises in Self-Sabotage – a self-ironic, staged performance made together with her gallerist at Art Basel. Or with Double Standards – A Sexhibition (2017), which presented viewers with the choice of entering either the left or the right door to the exhibition without knowing what to expect in either case; a reaction to the UK referendum which forced citizens to vote either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ without being provided with detailed information on the consequences of their decision.
Boiling Frogs at the Kunstverein focuses on both the comedic potential and tragic limitations associated with mechanisms of adaption. In light of the parable that lends the exhibition its title, this capacity to adapt (one of humanity’s great strengths), seems to be an index of its downfall: what is described, here, is an experiment in which the adaptive aptitude of frogs prevents them from recognizing the deadly danger of the gradually increasing water temperature in a cooking pot, thus preventing them from jumping out in time.
With Continuouslessness (2017 ongoing), an oversize screen sculpture which snakes through the exhibition space, Fudakowski dissolves this opposition between potential and limitation, through proposing the continuity of non-continuity: even if the individual elements of the work are necessarily limited and shaped so that they can be connected (in order to stand up and continuously grow), equally Continuouslessness delivers an unlimited space for the deployment of materials, forms, and ideas.
The looping, slapstick-like film fragments of Word Count (2016 ongoing) approach a fictional apocalyptic scenario that proposes a connection between the earth’s scarcity of natural resources and an excess of information. As a result, citizens are allowed to speak only 433 words per day, a reference to John Cage’s 4’33”. While couples in the films struggle to keep within their limit, an anarchic professor refuses to adapt and thus ultimately meets his downfall.
Through its work with absurd limits, the exhibition reveals the tragicomic nature of exaggerated adaptive mechanisms.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of events, including lectures, guided tours and an artist's talk.
Curated by Eva Birkenstock


Artist Talk: Wednesday, March 21, 6 pm  
With Kasia Fudakowski

Conversation: Sunday, April 15, 3 pm
With Kasia Fudakowski and Habib William Kherbek (linguist and author, Berlin)

Guided tours with the team of the Kunstverein: thursdays, 5 pm 


Press kit

With support of:

Installationviews Kasia Fudakowski – Boiling Frogs, Photographer: Katja Illner



Exhibition, Magazine, Debate

Kai Althoff / Isa Genzken, Gerry Bibby, Cana Bilir-Meier, CAConrad, Michaela Eichwald, Frank Engster, Fehras Publishing Practices, Sarah M. Harrison, Danny Hayward, Ann Hirsch, Karl Holmqvist, Infofiction, Stephan Janitzky, Jutta Koether, Justin Lieberman, Hanne Lippard, Thomas Locher, Karolin Meunier, Johannes Paul Raether, Aykan Safoğlu, spot the silence, Josef Strau, Hans Stützer, Linda Stupart, Ryan Trecartin, Marina Vishmidt, Peter Wächtler, Ian White, Tanja Widmann

November 11th 2017 - February 4th 2018 (extended)

Opening: Friday, November 10th 2017, 7.30 pm

Welcoming speech: Georg Kulenkampff, Director
Introduction: Eva Birkenstock, Director, with Jenny Nachtigall and Kerstin Stakemeier

“As a ‘war of form,’ C does not only revolve around political forms (...). Struggles over form are at the same time struggles over meaning; they fill culture and language with living resistance (...). The sign becomes the arena of C.” (Colin Barker on Valentin Voloshinov)
In dictionary entries, after its first appearance the discussed word is represented by its initial: class, class struggle, class contradiction as well as crisis, catastrophe, or colonialism become C. Our C (K in German) stands for Class Languages, and thus for the question of the verbalization, translation, and inscription of those political and social conflicts that determine our contemporary moment. Instead of passing off art as a model for a better politics, we wish to test it for the signatures, the markers and forms of these deeply antagonistic relations of which art itself is a material part: we are concerned with art as a class language, as well as with class languages in art; with art’s room for maneuver as well as with its limits and restrictions, curatorially, in writing and debate.
Class Languages displays neither purely aesthetic forms of visualizing the linguistic, nor political attempts to interpret art as medium of communication that transcends class. Rather, the exhibition presents a panorama of contemporary positions in which the (class) languages that we share but that also divide us become palpable and open to negotiation as the form of an artistic practice. Whether in the narrative or poetic logic of a sculpture, in the affective surfaces within which a painting embeds the linguistic, in the everyday conversational form of videos, pop songs, and interviews, or in the political and economic rhetorics that find their way into performances. Departing from art as a class language, we examine the class languages that speak out of art: nostalgic, contemporary, future, exclusive or inclusive.
In the confrontation with and between class languages in contemporary art we aim to investigate how these languages can be opened up, in the formats of the exhibition, magazine, and debate: less in the sense of the theoretical determination of concepts or through curatorial classifications as in the shared development of practical knowledge, a competency within and beyond art.
Class Languages at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande and Westfalen is the second station of a long- term collaborative project. It was launched with an exhibition and a debate program at District Berlin as well as Issue Zero of a collective journal in summer 2017 with the generous support of Hauptstadtkulturfonds. In continuation of these activities the Kunstverein presents an extension of the project with lectures, workshops, and performances, aiming at furthening the Berlin discussions in Düsseldorf:

Opening: Friday, November 10th 2017, 7.30 pm
Welcoming speech: Georg Kulenkampff, Chairman
Introducting: Eva Birkenstock, Director with Jenny Nachtigall and Kerstin Stakemeier

Debate, Performance: Saturday, November 11th, 2017, 2 pm
2 pm: Introduction, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, Kerstin Stakemeier (German)
2.30 pm: Performing Profanity and other Vulgarities, presentation / reading, Sarah M. Harrison (English)
3.30 pm: Concept of Class, Lecture, Frank Engster (German)
5 pm : After the Ice, the Deluge, Performance, Linda Stupart (English) 
€ 5.- / € 3.- reduced / members free  

Two day Workshop: Saturday, November 18th / Sunday, November 19th 2017, 12 am to 4 pm
CAConrad – Mapping Dimension 27 (in English)
€ 15.- / € 10.- reduced / members free
R.S.V.P. required at mail@kunstverein-duesseldorf.de

Debatte, Lectures, Bookpresentation: Saturday, Januar 20th, 2018, 2 pm
with Danny Hayward & Marina Vishmidt, Bill Dietz & Kerstin Stakemeier, Gerry Bibby & Tanja Widmann
€ 5.- / € 3.- reduced / members free   

A project initiated by Manuela Ammer, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, Kerstin Stakemeier, and Stephanie Weber. Exhibition design together with Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga.

Installationshots Klassensprachen, Photography by Moritz Krauth


Asymmetric Architextures 

Readings in the Postwar History of the Kunstverein

Roy Arden, Ilka Becker, Peter Brüning, Robert Burghardt, Natalie Czech, Henning Fehr & Philipp Rühr, Gesa Hüwe / Inga Thiele, Christina Irrgang, hobbypopMUSEUM, Aglaia Konrad, Sarah Kürten, David Lamelas, Katrin Mayer, Rita McBride / Christoph Westermeier, Vanessa Joan Müller, Marie-Luise Otten, Hedda Schattanik / Roman Szczesny, Mark von Schlegell, Arne Schmitt, Studio For Propositional Cinema, Sarah Szczesny, Alexander Jasch / Rita Kersting / Anette Freudenberger / Jens Ullrich, Jan Wagner, Alex Wissel   

July 8th to October 8th 2017
Opening: July 7th 2017, 7.30 p.m.


This year, the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen together with the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the architectural complex on the Grabbeplatz (completed in 1967), and hence 50 years that both institutions have existed under the same roof. On this occasion, the Kunstverein presents the exhibition, archival project, and event series Asymmetric Architextures – Readings in the Postwar History of the Kunstverein. At the center of the group exhibition is an investigation of the artistic and cultural-political activities and negotiations of the Kunstverein in connection with the institution’s architecture, designed by Konrad Beckmann and Christoph Brockes.

The thematic and temporal framework is derived from the building itself, and also from the cultural-political conflicts, discussions, and events linked to its origin: the siting of the postwar Kunstverein in the ruins of the old Kunsthalle; the call for proposals and the competition for a new building; the discussions around the former director of city planning, Friedrich Tamms, who had previously been active as an architect in Albert Speer’s closest circle, and the dispute over architecture in Düsseldorf that he and his allies provoked; the role of the Kunstverein under the direction of Hildebrandt Gurlitt – and subsequently under Karl-Heinz Hering – and thus of an era in which the Kunstverein’s gave an important impetus towards a reconstruction of the Kunsthalle; and finally the protests that met the opening of the building, as well as those over its preservation in the 1990s. In short, the point of departure is a period that was characterized by protests against an inadequate process of coming to terms with the National Socialist past, as well as by the reconstruction of the postwar years, and which even today remains crucial for understanding the current institutional landscape in Düsseldorf and the intertwining of the Kunstverein and Kunsthalle.

In connection with a wide-ranging research project and an examination of the numerous records of the Kunstverein in the Düsseldorf Municipal Archive, artists and art historians were invited to connect aspects of these historical discussions to their own work, and/or to expand on these discussions through readings of selected moments in the institution’s later exhibition history. The artist Katrin Mayer in turn developed a display made of assembled vertical and horizontal surfaces which are overwritten with archival materials, artworks, artifacts, and texts, as well as art historical analyses and new artistic productions. In this interplay between individual spatialized clusters of material, the history of the building – and thus also that of the Kunstverein – is activated as a continuously shifting provisional framework for various interrelated temporalities and architextures. 

The project is accompanied by a program of events as well as a film series at the Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf. The precise schedule will be made available shortly.

The exhibition was curated by Eva Birkenstock and conceived in dialog with Katrin Mayer with the assistance of Lidiya Anastasova, Gesa Hüwe, and Inga Thiele, as well as the participants in the accompanying seminar Living Archives. Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen 1947-67 at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.



Press kit



Installation view Asymmetric Architextures, 2017, Foto: Katja Illner

Sponsoren:                                   Dank an:

                                                     Stadtarchiv Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf


Delicate Instruments of Engagement

By Alexandra Pirici

With Paul Dunca, Paula Gherghe, Farid Fairuz, Maria Mora, Cristian Nanculescu

Acclaimed choreographer Alexandra Pirici is going to develop a new work for Impulse Theater Festival 2017 in coproduction with FFT Düsseldorf and in cooperation with Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen. A continuous performative action touching upon questions of art as a space for radical democracy, the power of political gestures in- and outside of art spaces, and art’s potential for resistance. It will be closely linked to Düsseldorf’s extensive history as a place for political art.

Opening hours:

Saturday, June 24th, 2 – 6 pm
Sunday, June 25th, 11 am – 2 pm & 3 pm – 6 pm
Thursday, June 29th, 4 – 8 pm
Friday, June 30th, 4 – 8 pm
Saturday, July 1st, 11 am – 2 pm & 3 pm – 6 pm

Johannes Paul Raether



April 23rd to June 18th 2017
Opening: Saturday, April 22nd 2017, 7.30 p.m.

The working method of the Berlin-based artist Johannes Paul Raether could be described as the activity of a psycho-realist Identitect. Since 2009, he has designed a growing, multigenerational set of constructed personas, Avataras, and SelfSisters. As beings personified by Raether, they appear in installations, in public spaces, in laundromats, in Times Square, at Ikea, or at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They take research trips to India, Iceland, or Scotland, and regularly issue invitations to techno-magical rituals. The individual identities of this Identitecture each constitute their own research units: Transformellae - Queens of the Debris that illuminate the future of globalized and industrialized forms of human propagation and their relationship to capitalist production in an era of artificial insemination, pre-implantation diagnostics, and foster motherhood. The Swarm-Being of the infected metropolises seeks out sites of intersecting movements of migrants and tourists, in order to collect traces of a transnational circulation of bodies as well as placeless "souvenirs". The Smurf-like world-healing witches Protektoramae attack the spectral empire of capitalist relations of production during times of gigantic commodity flows.

Protekto.x.x Precipitation, the title of Raether's solo exhibition at the Kunstverein, is also the name another one of his drag characters from the lineage of the world-healing witches. The witches' central thesis is that humanity is possessed by the abstract principles of capital and has developed into a prosthesis of its own communication devices. Like her predecessor Protektorama, Protekto.x.x interrogates and analyzes the relation of the human body to screens and displays, and addresses the materiality, fabrication processes, and sites of production of contemporary information technologies. Protekto.x.x was introduced to a broader public in July 2016, when her ritual research-maneuver in the Berlin Apple Store led to a police intervention and lurid reports in the media. Beforehand, the participants were given a ring made out of the technological metal gallium, which was liquefied in the shop over the course of this moderated techno-alchemical ritual. Gallium is an important material for this witch, given that it melts at body temperature and yet is not dangerous to the carbon-based hands of human beings. However, this sister metal disintegrates aluminum, from which the surfaces and skeletons of cellphones, tablets, and computers are made. For his exhibition in the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Raether transfers this manifestation of his world-healing witch into a complex, sculptural-spatial ensemble - a further development of his contribution to this year's Transmediale in Berlin. An audio track introduces visitors to the witch's research fields and critical linguistic findings, and thus makes them participants in this techno-philosophical ritual. Molten gallium, metallurgically recycled devices, and items of orphaned witch paraphrenalia conflict with the presentation's unmistakable Apple Store aesthetic. Together with Protekto.x.x's audible speech-sequences, they create a common cosmos, in which the Apple products appear as the archaeological relicts of a distant past.

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of events, including lectures, a performance, and an artist's talk. The exact schedule will be announced shortly.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock.



Guided tour through the current exhibition with Eva Birkenstock

Wednesday, May 3rd, 5 p.m.

ATTENTION: The directors tour will replace the usuall guided tour on Sunday.


Artist talk with Johannes Paul Raether 

Tuesday, May 16th, 8.30 p.m.


Performance by Johannes Paul Raether 

Saturday, May 27th, 4 p.m.  


Press kit

Installation view 2017, Photo: Katja Illner

The exhibition Johannes Paul Raether Protekto.x.x Precipitation is generously supported by:

Alicia Frankovich


February 18th 2017 to April 9th 2017
Opening: February 17th 2017, 7.30 p.m.

Against the backdrop of new technologies, the critique of human actions in the Anthropocene epoch and the notion of a present that is increasingly determined by the past and the future, the New Zealand-born artist Alicia Frankovich (*1980) explores the interactions of human organisms with other animate and inanimate elements. The perception of what is human has undergone drastic changes under the pressure of political, ecological, and societal realities: the human being – male, white, rational, self-aware, Eurocentric – has given way to a hybrid subject with multiple identities. Analogously, the negotiation of humankind’s relations to technology and nature and of objects to subjects makes up the crucial point of reference in Frankovich’s oeuvre. By interweaving sculptures, video, and performances, she conceives exhibition parcours that are in a constant state of flux. Aspects of such time-based working methods as performance art, the mobility of the viewer, and the notion of beginning and end are merged to form one poetic and individualised space of experience, in which the format and medium of “exhibiting” is acted out. Thus at the start of this year’s programme, a modus-operandi is introduced that explores alternative means of presenting art by addressing the intersection of performance and exhibition making, of experience, observation and interaction, and with it the mechanisms of both the white cube and the theatre.

OUTSIDE BEFORE BEYOND is a choreography developed especially for the spaces of the Kunstverein in which new sculptures, a video, animation, sound and instruments involved in staging productions (such as spotlights or theatre curtains) appear as equals in the form of mutually overlapping chronologies and narrative techniques. With a view to the exhibition’s title, Frankovich explores the possibility of annulling fixed points of time and space, so that the displayed works constantly reconfigure themselves within the confines of her parcours – not least through the movements of visitors. These moments of motion and transformation are already implicit in the individual components: an animation shows a sequence of figurative metamorphoses, the dyed fabric of the image-based sculptures reference articles of street-clothing from previous performances, plants are in a process of crossbreeding between two species. Proceeding from a refutation of typological thinking, Frankovich opens up a scenario that undermines a linear chronological before-now-after continuum, and reacts instead to a speculative temporality; a scenario in which static objects appear animated and bodies emerge in their flickering presence and absence. The conditionality of the human and non-human, of the material and non-material, she initiated culminates in a reinterpretation of their artistic fields of action within our physical, terrestrial and extraterrestrial environment.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock



Stars and Tribes - A collaborative lecture. Daniel Falb (Poet & Geophilosopher, Berlin) & Alicia Frankovich on Thrusday, March 23rd 2017 at 7 pm

Twins & Lovers - Performance by Alicia Frankovich on Saturday, March 25th at 9 pm

Alicia Frankovich - Performance on Friday, April 7th at 10 pm


Press kit

Installation views 2017, Photo Katja Illner

The exhibition Alicia Frankovich - OUTSIDE BEFORE BEYOND is generously supported by:

Studio for Propositional Cinema


October 29th 2016 to January 8th 2017
Opening: October 28th 2016, 7.30 p.m.

“I gather these texts to prove that I am not alone. That others, seeing my game, will become allies. For them, I put my cards on the table.” - Louis Aragon, J’abats mon jeu, 1959

IN ADVANCE OF A SHIPWRECK: is both the title of the exhibition by Studio for Propositional Cinema at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and of a text which encircles and traces the architecture and gallery space of the latter – beginning outside on the Kunstverein’s “Schaufenster” (its permanent display venue in the public space along Neustraße), continuing along the windows of Buchhandlung Walther König, running up along the signage on the façade, entering the lobby and finally the actual exhibition space. In its subject matter the text foregrounds the increasing political urgency for spaces for the distribution and mediation of resistant cultural forms within a context that seeks to dilute or deactivate them on the one hand (the equalizing machinations of mass-culture), and to annihilate their entire history and potential futures on the other (the ideological end-game of religious fundamentalisms). Literally and figuratively it is this text which frames the presentation and its institutional contexts, while acting as a central element of the exhibition itself.

IN ADVANCE OF A SHIPWRECK: comprises three temporal aspects which unfold over the course of this exhibition in progress. The first is a series of exhibitions in the Kunstverein’s Schaufenster of posters, ephemera, and works dealing with forms of publicity, beginning with a survey of Studio for Propositional Cinema’s exhibition posters (beginning 24 October) and continuing with Palermo and Sigmar Polke (8 November – 20 November), Sarah Kürten (22 November – 4 December), Feminist Land Art Retreat (6 – 18 December), Nicolás Guagnini (20 December – 1 January), and Roy Arden (8 – 29 January). In the main exhibition space a new series of 73 small publications will be presented, each produced in close collaboration with the artists, collectives, and writers who have contributed to past exhibition projects of Studio for Propositional Cinema, including its inaugural project at the Kunstverein in Düsseldorf, projects at mumok, Vienna, and Kunsthaus Bregenz, as well as at their exhibition space in Düsseldorf’s Ackerstrasse. The individual publications are issued one after the other and added daily to the exhibition. The show will additionally be punctuated by a series of events, including a performance of Scenes at an Inauguration by Keren Cytter & Studio for Propositional Cinema (at the opening on 28 October, 8 p.m.), egal, a new play by Sarah Kürten (22 November, 7 p.m.), Paul Sharits: Prescription and Collapsed Temporality by Tony Conrad (6 December, 7 p.m.), and a lecture/reading by Aaron Peck (at the closing event on 8 January, 6 p.m.).

Studio for Propositional Cinema is anonymous, individual and collective. We are simultaneously part of it and estranged from it. It was inaugurated in 2013 in the context of the performance-event Proposals and Propositions at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, with a manifesto-like speech proclaiming: “We are for production and the negation of production. We are for distribution and the negation of distribution. We are for reception and the negation of reception. You do not want us, but we are already inside your head.” Since then their activities have taken many forms, including an exhibition space in Düsseldorf, various publishing projects (including Papier und Gelb, a bookshop in Düsseldorf started in 2015 together with Rhein-Verlag), sustained collaborations with other artists such as Keren Cytter, Alex Wissel/Jan Bonny, and Gaylen Gerber, as well as several exhibitions, realized both individually and together with a loose network of other artists and cultural producers whose concerns, activities, and ideals intersect with their own. Most of these projects are grounded in language, presented variously through speeches, performances, signage, manifestos, titles, and press releases.

IN ADVANCE OF A SHIPWRECK: as an artistic and curatorial project marks both an end and a beginning. Programmed by the ex-director of the Kunstverein, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, and co-curated with Eva Birkenstock, the exhibition loosely links the past 5-year cycle of thematic and monographic exhibitions of the former, with the new program soon to be introduced by his successor, who organized an exhibition project with Studio for Propositional Cinema at Kunsthaus Bregenz this past June.

Foregrounding the distribution and exhibition of texts and artworks within a context of collaboration and confluence, IN ADVANCE OF A SHIPWRECK: attempts to frame these activities in the hope that their actions, as they write, may, “like gulls or whales, like winds or waves, be strengthened through quantity and may, in turn, humidify or evaporate in order that the ostensibly inevitable may be evaded, or may be delayed, or may be revealed as tenuous constructions: like a hurricane coaxed to the breeze, like a tsunami diluted to a ripple, with still enough power to erode, if there is still enough time to do so”.

Installation views 2016, Photography Katja Illner

The exhibition IN ADVANCE OF A SHIPWRECK: is generously supported by Sonnen-Herzog.

Charlotte Prodger

August 6th to October 16th 2016
Opening: August 5th 2016, 7:30 p.m.

For the final exhibition in the ongoing series concerning “Thing Art”, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf is pleased to present Glasgow-based artist Charlotte Prodger (b. 1974). Comprising a selection of significant works from the past ten years, the exhibition marks Prodger's first solo show in Germany. Prodger’s practice suspends fragments from the history of broadcast technology, structural film, industrial design, taxonomical documents, Internet video, and queer subjectivity. Motifs, anecdotes and physical forms are repurposed and re-used throughout her work. Central to this is the slippery idea of the version, where something produces a mutation of itself. Decontextualised pieces of material run in elliptical loops, with multiple visual and narrative rhythms rubbing against each other. Within these tensions are many diverse temporalities: the time of the digital archive, the sonic time of language, the bodily time of craft or eroticism, and deep geological time.

In this exhibition, Prodger’s works convey inherent referential and semantic implications, which in juxtaposition to their physical presence are at once brutal to watch, while embodying the subtle relationship between what we traditionally refer to as ‘form’ and ‘content.’  Prodger incorporates technology and mechanical devices in a two-fold sense: while technology (a mass of colour, a welded metal base or a specific monitor) are employed to present artistic content, Prodger also focuses attention on the objects themselves, building a self referential technological vocabulary that develops into a conceptual subtext. Monitors and DVD players - placed on custom made shelving units with specific cable systems, play sequences of found and new footage concerned with the reciprocal interpenetration of actions, acts and performances and the techniques that influenced them. Material interactions between the body and technology; the body and nature; technology and nature, run throughout the exhibition. Multifaceted connections emerge between object and art, technology and nature - at once in opposition and in synthesis with each other.

Press material

Installation Views 2016, Photography Katja Illner

Sponsored by:

The New

May 21st to July 17th
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 – 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 Alexander 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 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.

Installation Views 2016, Photography Katja Illner

Stefan Wissel

Bewegung 15. Juli

March 5th until May 1st 2016
Opening: March 4th 2016, 7.30 p.m.

If one takes a classic narrative of 20th–century art seriously, things are categorically differentiated from all other things when they are allocated to the realm of art. This difference, however, is much less determinable on the things themselves than on the specific conditions of how and in which framework they are made use of from their production to their utilization ‘as art’. As such, the focus of attention first of all shifts away from the objects themselves to the social conditions from which they emerge as their materialisation on the one hand and how these conditions for their part again configure, for example through their specific use, on the other. But it then locks a special case into place: the mere ‘thing art’.

Stefan Wissel explicitly focuses on things in conjunction with his work since the early 1990s. His largely object- but also image-based pieces directly integrate everyday objects while also employing more uncommon materials. Functional and design objects are just as much used as coarse roof battens and galvanised metal profiles, the second-hand and the new, commodities and found items, furniture and articles of clothing, comparatively large objects such as a bicycle stand or small ephemeral one like a decal, purposefully purchased or borrowed at some time or other, and the pronouncedly material or the dematerialised, as it were, for example the harmony of various pieces of music.

The difference, indeed the absolute disparateness of these things as regards origins and use moreover correlates with diverse forms of working methods when Wissel ‘makes’ the objects himself in the almost traditional sense of sculpture or when he outsources their production in whole or in part to specialists, or when he simply ‘takes’ things and situations. The individual access, to be decided from case to case and consistently subjective, is in the process that which can most likely construct a common denominator between Wissel’s artworks.

For instead of being absorbed into a ‘thing art’, the thing that has tentatively been entered into an aesthetic experimental, as it were, individually or in constellation with other things, methods of production and use, becomes the setting for precisely this relationship between material and process, for the isolation in objectification and the shift triggered by productions, context, use, the things extending beyond themselves, employed in the service of probable or improbable purposes by whatever idiosyncratic means.

Stefan Wissel (born 1960) has lived and worked in Düsseldorf since the start of his studies at the Art Academy under Michael Buthe. His exhibition Bewegung 15. Juli at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen unites works from a period of nearly twenty years and intentionally focuses on the artist’s (sculptural, three-dimensional) objects in the narrower sense. Both a retrospect and synopsis at the same time, this exhibition continues an examination of the “thing art” that began with Walter Swennen’s Ein perfektes Alibi exhibition.

Installation Views 2016, Photography Katja Illner

Walter Swennen

Ein perfektes Alibi

November 28th 2015 until February 14th 2016
Opening: November 27th 2015, 7.30 p.m.

After initially working in the field of poetry and performance Walter Swennen (born 1946) developed an extensive artistic oeuvre since the early 1980s that makes decided use of painting as a pictorial medium. In the process, the artist retains a conceptual proximity to a painting that is now once again all too gladly elevated as art’s supreme discipline. And although it might seem traditionalistic upon first glance he nevertheless concentrates on the self-made picture with all the strengths and weaknesses of painterly means.

It is the material circumstances of painting, the convention of the panel picture that Swennen plumbs in order to generally explore the quality of iconic and symbolic signs. Put differently, he tests image and word through painting with a view to its significance and effect. This approach can be characterised as a cognitive critical project that, references philosophical, semiotic and psychological discourses despite being carried out wholly in painting as medium, currency and institution. It is consequently not surprising that every picture once again represents its innermost problem that in each case must be handled separately and brought to a painterly solution and must also simply ‘succeed’ as a picture. Walter Swennen’s oeuvre is accordingly heterogeneous. It thrives on the complexity of the individual picture without taking style, manner or genre into consideration.

Organised in close cooperation with Walter Swennen the retrospective exhibition “A Perfect Alibi” at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf features circa 35 works by the Brussels-born artist, who now again lives and works in his native city. Featuring numerous loans from collections in Belgium, the Netherlands and French, the works made over a period of some thirty-five years provide an exemplary overview of the production of this artist, which can now be seen in such detail for the first time in Germany.

The exhibition likewise serves also the opening salvo for a series of events in the Kunstverein that are specifically devoted to the increasingly problematic position of the object in art – or rather the ‘thing art’.

Installation Views 2015, Photography Katja Illner

THE ART OF THE TURKS. Modernisation as Fiction

August 22nd until November 8th 2015
Opening: August 21st 2015, 7.30 p.m.

The question concerning the definition of art is inseparably linked to that of art’s owner. At the same time, however, it is anything but easy to clarify art’s ownership structures. And it is no wonder when it is claimed by various sides, by the state and capital, religion and enlightenment, by those for whom art is produced and the institutions they have established, by its connoisseurs and the proverbial ‘people’ to whom to directs itself in all its alleged generality and for whom it is supposed to be available everywhere and at any time without presuppositions. It is firstly the artists themselves – especially in practice – who lay claim to art because no others ‘could’ and can as readily and as freely mandate it. The more self-assured the claims to art are advanced and the more absolutely they are enforced, the more controversial it becomes and consequently less available. 

There is no such thing as the art of the Turks just as there is no such thing as the art of the Germans, of the Vatican, the Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi or an art of critical practice. The Art of the Turks can consequently only – but after all at least – be a fiction.

Curated by Manuel Graf and Hans-Jürgen Hafner, The Art of the Turks produces a fiction. Based on specially conceived artistic contributions, historical and current artworks, publications and documents, lectures and talks, the exhibition imagines a modern art of the Turks from today’s perspective. The Art of the Turks is the draft of a hypothetical state art that is simultaneously the collection of concrete, historical and contemporary forms of artistic expression and the subjective claims made on art. The Art of the Turks establishes a point of convergence between the most different claims made on art while revealing at the same time the impossibility of such a convergence.

With Abdullah Frères, Haluk Akakçe, Erdağ Aksel, Fikret Atay, Bedri Baykam, Rudolf Belling, Adnan Çoker, Manuel Graf, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Osman Hamdi Bey, Diango Hernández, Clemens Holzmeister, Kiron Khosla, Hans Poelzig, Berthold Reiß, Bruno Taut, Yazbukey und Ahmet Ziya


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Installation Views 2015, Photography Katja Illner

Supported by:

Whose Subject am I?

May 9th until August 2nd 2015
Opening: May 8th, 7.30 p.m.

The expectations and demands we make on art both socially and individually are as numerous as they are diverse. What they have in common is the need for concrete solutions and answers, for an effect of the immediately accessible, identificational and exploitable – not only as regards aesthetic questions but also with a view to concrete social problems and their inextricably linked technological problems. And we also expect from artists that they serve as seismographers if not interpreters of their times. Fitted with diffuse sensibilities and uncertain competencies, can they really anticipate answers to something even before this something has even been able to be precisely formulated in the first place? 

The thematic group show Wessen Subjekt bin ich? / Whose Subject am I? deals with this somehow understandable and yet obviously impossible demand made on art. It does so by inquiring after the essence and functionality of subjectivity in the wake of a digitalisation comprising ever larger spheres of life, including its long since irreversible effects on what is produced and circulated as art in particular. The exhibition confronts the problem that inevitably results when philosophical, political and social models clash with each other under the premise of art in conjunction with an exhibition – a space that is readily comprehended as an exceptional aesthetic state und accordingly ideally accessible without presuppositions. 

Works are brought together in the exhibition that, whether produced digitally or analogue and employed structurally or as a narrative, derive from diverse discourses and are represented for example in the form of a computer program or as traditional panel picture and not only remain ‘disparate’ upon a second glance. They consequently resist the generalising need to transfer one‘s own individual responsibility to art that has been turned, so to speak, into an all-purpose surrogate. They instead argue in favour of comprehending this as a zone of cultural, social and economic production and exploitation. As a possibility of the ‘subjective’ participation in art as a historically evolved and socially comprehended formation based on individual objects is not the promise of a redemptory conclusion. It can instead only represent the beginnings of respective dealings with the mechanisms of one‘s own positioning and indeed also the production of subjectivity. 

A series of event featuring lectures by Hans ­Christian Dany (12 May), Marina Vishmidt (13 June) and Kerstin Stakemeier (5 July) serves to further explore the themes treated within the exhibition in addition to arguing in favour of the separation between artistic and theoretical perspectives.

In the course of, Tyler Coburn will perform I'm that angel at a data center in Düsseldorf on July 7th and 8th.

With Monira Al Qadiri, Thomas Baldischwyler, Johannes Bendzulla, Tyler Coburn, Aleksandra Domanović, Cécile B. Evans, Harun Farocki, Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho, Asier Mendizabal, Yann-Vari Schubert, The Otolith Group

Introduction: Hans-Jürgen Hafner, director, and Roy Huschenbeth, curator

Installation Views 2015, Photography Katja Illner

Anna Franceschini


February 7th until April 19th 2015
Opening: February 6th 2015, 7.30 p.m.

MECHANICALLY YOURS is Anna Franceschini’s (born 1979) first extensive exhibition in the German-speaking countries. Curated by Stephanie von Gelmini, the show brings together filmic pieces by the Italian artist dating from 2009 to 2015.

The exhibition space is turned into a stage for moving images that are presented in differing projection situations. Films, short and long loops in addition to filmic triptychs are cyclically consolidated into a spatial and temporal structure. The arrangement follows a complex score that is targeted at both the atmospheric interaction of the different pieces as well as enabling the possibility to concentrate on each individual work. In the process, motion and immobility, sound and silence, the mysterious and the banal in Franceschini’s pictorial world are interwoven.

Everyday things play the leading role in the artist’s films; objects and apparatuses but also spaces and processes. Her subjects, devoid of any and all conventional narrative structures, are isolated from their context and staged fragmented in camera close-ups. Objects or courses of action consequently become inexplicable, obstructing an unambiguous interpretation.

The camera’s eye following the ornaments of wallpaper patterns does not clarify the spatial situation or even the architectural circumstances under which the images were filmed; the procedures in a commercial laundry vanish behind an outwardly grotesque apparatus that blows hot air on the items of clothing, seemingly breathing life into them; the framing of the image of a flag waving in the wind causes an allusion to the place behind it, but the view is then covered up again a moment later. The fragment offers an incentive to imagine the “bigger picture” and to interpret the phenomenon in this sense.

Referencing the traditions of New Objectivity photography and the modernist experimental film of the 1950s and 1960s, it is this curious independent existence of things in which the filmic apparatus and the material and object quality of the filmed are mutually dependent that consequently produces significance – despite the lack of any narrative. Franceschini draws on 16mm as well as Super 8 film techniques that are now no longer employed in the production of cinematic images, although the analogue film material is converted to the immateriality of digital visual media over the course of her work process. As it is, her work veers thematically as well as in formal terms between the poles of materiality and the immaterial, joining the objective with the imagination.

The spectacular images from her piece Kunstschnee (Artificial Snow), which was produced especially for the exhibition, were filmed at the Jever Fun indoor ski centre at Neuss near Düsseldorf. The resulting filmic triptych is ambiguous about how ‘real’ the depicted scenes actually are. Supposed forces of nature and the threatening monumentality of technical apparatuses, the filmic representation that goes into detail and the simulation-based original location come into conflict with each other, almost hiding the fact that the hall is actually used as a leisure facility dedicated to winter sports.

Installation Views 2015, Photography Katja Illner

With the support of

Tim Berresheim

Auge und Welt [Eye and World]

September 20th 2014 until January 11th 2015
Opening: September 19th, 7.30 p.m.

While it has long been impossible to imagine everyday life without the digital technologies that have increasingly even been penetrating into our personal spheres of life, it seems as if the occupation with these technologies is still in its infancy from an artist perspective. In the process, digitality, computing and network culture not only have a massive impact on the production of information but also on how it is distributed and perceived, and consequently on its general structure, increasingly determining our basic understanding of it.

However, it would be too short-sighted to believe that art can be expanded through digitality, computing and network culture – in the sense of an exponentially widened material palette – without this expansion in turn undergoing a fundamental change as regards its production and reception. In fact the actual perception of art, that which was once characterised as an aesthetic experience, stands in contrast to the acclimatisation to its increasing medialisation. In terms of quantity, this has occurred to such an extent that in the meanwhile the essence of art and its possible determination can also be completely reconfigured as regards quality.

In Tim Berresheim’s work as an artist, the role played by the computer as an artistic tool is less important in and of itself. He concentrates his artistic project instead on digitality, computing and network culture as his field of exploration and operation. Alongside his artistic work in the traditional sense that is produced exclusively on the computer, his endeavours also include wide-ranging music producing, label and publishing work. Self-organisation is an important aspect here as well as the integration of collaborative, group dynamic processes, which are not least reflected in his long-time (co)-management of diverse project spaces and the recently established “Studios New Amerika” and the “Institut für Betrachtung” in Aachen and Cologne.

Auge und Welt offers the most comprehensive look to date at various aspects of the projects decidedly developed by Tim Berresheim since 2003 as an oeuvre. The exhibition employs diverse components that reference each other both in terms of form and content. Different picture formats are consequently arranged on wallpaper conceived especially for the exhibition situation, forming compositionally compressed inserts within a visually expansive narrative framework; a functioning stage, sculptural variables as well as a sales display with a broad palette of merchandising articles expand the tableau into an installative whole that by no means conceals its fragility but helps instead to more fully sharpen one’s attentiveness to specific details, to specific functions.

The precarious relationship of the whole to the detail simultaneously characterises Berresheim’s digitally generated images, also by means of the simulation programs employed in the natural sciences and military technology which do not want to forego the aspect of craftsmanship in the drawings and graphic designs, subcultural references to comics and tattoos, visions or drug experiences. The overwhelming incisiveness of these pictures in which photographic recordings and digital emulated motion processes merge with each other as computer generated (CGI) motifs and printed or exposed as a specific picture format with high-res rendered compositions virtually seem to want to compete with reality.

The fascination in the constructivist potential, the algorithmically perfected “as-if” of digital technologies balances out the unease about its long active reality-forming effects. It is therefore also more than subcultural folklore when Berresheim holds firm to the cooperative moment, leaving the door of his artistic practice shaped by Punk’s DIY principle open for group dynamics, improvisation and self-organisation.

Tim Berresheim (born 1975) lives and works in Aachen.

Installation views 2014, Photography Peter Wildanger

Yesterday Paradise - Wir Mitläufer

A Short Exhibit in the Ruins of “Les Immatériaux” for Instance

August 16th until 17th 2014
Opening: August 15th, 7.30 p.m.

The characteristics that are still associated with the Internet, for example the possibility of free global communications, equality and anti-centralism as well as the related hope of a democratic potential, have not been fulfilled. Interactivity, once proclaimed by Bertolt Brecht as the utopia of an emancipatory use of media, became the central instrument of control as a dictum. Data sets wander and proliferate through permanent circulation – in part reproducing themselves algorithmically, in part through human hands – but never without agency. In the process they leave their traces in the material world, shaping it through their implications.

The multiplicity of parallel historicalities generated in real time that come about in this way has long reached a point where human consciousness can no longer grasp them as a whole. The Internet has transcended the boundaries of the world on which it feeds, never illustrating it completely in the process. In the exhibition project “Yesterday Paradise”, a group of artists jointly confront the impossibility of the great digital narrative with a plurality of subjective historiography. They look back at their histories of something that no longer exists as such: the Internet.

Hunter S. Thompson was already behind the times when he, armed with a sheerly absurd concoction of all common amphetamines, narcotics and psychedelics, went back to Las Vegas once again in 1971 in order to trace the remnants of a Californian dream, namely the juvenile feeling that the “victory over the forces of Old and Evil” was “inevitable” because an entire generation was in the process of “riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave”. 

“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

We were long unsure about with which wave we swam when decades later, in the early 1990s, intoxicated pioneers were writing on new formats. We also missed the moment of the breaking wave, but in hindsight we must date it to the year 2004 (or perhaps even earlier – John Perry Barlow speaks of 1996, which makes sense). The many utopian program lines were overwritten with new conditions. Stronger forces had invested. The wave rumbled back.

Unlike Thompson’s wave, and unlike those from the 1960s and 1970s, its vehemence was not founded on the hope of the consciousness-altering force of music, Marxism, sex and drugs (that too) – the central promise was supplied by ones and zeros. The structurally softening energy of the digital was the storm behind the growth of a wave that took hold of ever more minds. As mentioned above, we did not comprehend it fully back then. We were just the young pimply hangers-on who did not understand what was happening to us when our three-eight-six’ers were hooked up into the telephone network for the first time.

Only after the flood can one recognise the high-water. This mark can probably be found somewhere or other in California, where once again a few people who have fallen behind the times are cruising their way around Silicon Valley with totally stoned-out eyes. The sea has calmed down in the here and now and it is difficult to say whether that is a good or bad thing. All that is left to us is the choice between transfiguration und real politics. 
Carsten Benger, Moritz Herda, Dominic Osterried und Steffen Zillig

Curated by Roy Huschenbeth.

A lecture on the history of the Internet and the end of media by artists and writer Stefan Heidenreich will take place within the framework of the exhibition on August 16 at 4.00 p.m. 

Installation views 2014

Quadriennale 2014

“Les Immatériaux” for Instance

April 5th until August 10th 2014

With Marie Angeletti, Michael Dreyer, Constant Dullaart, Florian Hecker, Alwin Lay, Rabih Mroué and Peter Weibel and with original works from Les Immatériaux by Giovanni Anselmo, François Morellet and Philippe Thomas.


“Les Immatériaux” for Instance is an exhibition about exhibits and exhibiting. It references the now mythical exhibition and publication project Les Immatériaux, which was largely conceived by the influential post-modernist theoretician Jean-François Lyotard.

Controversially received by experts and the public, it is difficult to make a complete and adequate picture of this curatorial experiment today. Even in retrospect, it is nearly impossible to categorise the project realised in 1985 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris under the heading of an art or technology exhibition; its complex contentual themes – the now proverbial “imatériaux” as a description of the technological and epistemic change in our relationship to ‘material’ – can scarcely be reduced down it the lowest possible denominator. Conceived completely in philosophical terms, Lyotard and his team produced Les Immatériaux as a veritable total artwork that even incorporated the educational aspect – for example audio guide, publication and accompanying exhibition program. In this sense Les Immatériaux itself wanted to be comprehended as a work if its philosophical and curatorial scenario on the dialectic of progressive concepts were at all to be directly experienced by its audience as a multimedia shock.

There are several different reasons for taking an exemplary look at Les Immatériaux. The manner in which Lyotard employed the medium of the exhibition to visualise his own theoretical project was – like the future perspective itself formulated within it – as equally relevant as it was unprecedented. However, the influence that the then headlines-making project had on later exhibitions is surprisingly limited. The wide-ranging discourse on the change in art, technology and knowledge at the crossroads to the digital era sketched out back then in the exhibition format and its effects on us rapidly subsided. In the end, the parcours on cultural and contemporary history that deliberately challenged the viewer with works from the broadest possible spectrum including the arts, technology and science was simply just too much ‘exhibition’.

Im conjunction with the present-day trend among artists and curators to make historical exhibitions the subjects of exhibitions, “Les Immatériaux” for Instance poses the general question concerning presentability in exhibitions. Is it not this character of the ‘exhibition’ media that helps to clarify our relationship to the material, the displayed objects and well as the knowledge negotiated within them? Or asked different, what should one really expect from an exhibition?

This project by the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen is as such an aperçu on the curatorial itself. To the extent that “Les Immatériaux” for Instance experimentally combines elements of a study exhibition – a discursive parcours consisting of archive material to the historical object and a selection of original exhibits – with the presentation of current artistic works, the exhibition regularly recalls the moment of ‘presenting’ that admittedly can only be envisioned individually.

“Les Immatériaux” for Instance is the Kunstverein’s contribution to the 2014 Quadriennale Düsseldorf 2014, in which 13 exhibitions under the heading Beyond Tomorrow devote themselves to future artistic perspectives.

Curated by Hans-Jürgen Hafner and Christian Kobald.

Installation views 2014, Photography Katja Illner, Nemo Nonnenmacher

Florian Hecker

Rearranged Playlist as Auditory Scene Synthesis

Tuesday, June 10th at 8 p.m.

Florian Hecker works largely with synthetic sound in performance, installation and publications dealing with specific compositional developments of post-war modernity, electroacoustic music as well as other, non-musical disciplines.

Rearranged Playlist as Auditory Scene Synthesis to be performed live on Tuesday, June 10th at 8 p.m. at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen is Florian Hecker's artistic contribution to the Kunstverein’s recent group exhibition Zum Beispiel “Les Immatériaux” referencing the famous historical exposition Les Immatériaux (1985), then curated by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard at Centre George Pompidou.

Processed Performance Still 1 + 2
Florian Hecker, 3 Channel Chronics, Performance, Push & Pull, mumok, Wien, 12. Oktober 2010
Foto Manuel Gorkiewicz
Courtesy Florian Hecker, Sadie Coles HQ, London und Galerie Neu, Berlin

Rosa Sijben


February 15th until March 16th 2014
Opening: February 14th, 7.30 p.m.

Is the notion of art just depending on the way we think/look? Or is it intrinsic to the art object? Can, in general, objects be the source, take the initiative in how we think/look and if so, how comes?
Rosa Sijben

How much is the nature and meaning of an object determined by its environment? How does its presence effect the quality and significance of its environment? In THINGS YOU KNOW, her first institutional exhibition in Germany, Dutch artist Rosa Sijben (b. 1988) examines the complex relationships that arise between the specific nature and function of an object and the situation it finds itself in. Likewise, her attention is focussed on the sites which draw both the idea of art and the actual art objects into the world in general and, more concretely, the reality of our lived experience. Rosa Sijben integrates sculptural, installative and performative methods into her artistic practice which, in the form of site specific choreographies, measure social, economic and aesthetic spaces while teaching us to apprehend the nature of such spaces in a new light.

Greeting: Georg Kulenkampff, Chairman

Introduction: Hans-Jürgen Hafner

Installation views 2014, Photography Katja Illner

With the support of

Das Beste vom Besten

On the Risky Business of Art

October 19th 2013 until January 5th 2014
Opening: October 18th, 7.30 p.m.

Participants amongst others are Robert Barry, Dan Graham, Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff, Jörg Immendorff, Louise Lawler, Lee Lozano, Alfred Müller, Ken Okiishi, PROVENCE, Fatima al Qadiri, readymades belong to everyone®, Chris Reinecke, Gerhard Richter, Caspar Scheuren, Tino Sehgal, Haim Steinbach, Elaine Sturtevant, Goran Trbuljak and Heimo Zobernig in cooperation with Jakob Lena Knebel/Markus Hausleitner

Additional publications and documents by Ian Burn, Marcel Broodthaers, Eberhard Fiebig, Helmut Rywelski/Galerie art intermedia, PSR and Seth Siegelaub, and about Prospect ’68 to ’71, a series of exhibitions held in Kunsthalle and Kunstverein Düsseldorf. 

The relationship between art and commerce is a notoriously problematic one. A look at the art sections of the newspapers reveals that the media’s interest in art peaks only when record prices catch its attention. On the other hand, useful broad-based examinations of art’s current forms, themes and concerns hardly ever takes place in the media, a serious and knowledgeable discussion of its present-day aesthetic dimension or social role never. Art only seems to be worth writing about in the media when it is sold for a lot of money.

By contrast, however, art that sells too well is all too readily lumped together under the label “commercial” or – in the worst case – even called a sell-out. Economically successful art that pursues decidedly political or critical aspirations is met at the same time with immense mistrust on the part of the critics and non-commercial institutions. Marketability and critical potentials are apparently mutually exclusive from the outset. “Das Beste vom Besten” (The Cream of the Crop) is an exhibition that wants to intervene between these hardened fronts and explore the perhaps inextricably complex tension-filled relationship between true art and art as a commodity.  

In retrospect, it namely becomes clear that art must paradoxically be brought to the marketplace and sold in order for it to become the art that we know it to be today. Its autonomy was bought dearly: Art first had to become a commodity and furthermore create its own market in order to become – naturally only comparatively – independent from its courtly and ecclesiastical patrons.

But this risky business seems to have been worth it. Art still profits from this tension-filled relationship today. It has been those artistic practices in particular that have explicitly been seen as critical, which have joined together in a productive reciprocity with the art market instead of joining forces in opposition to it. This can be seen in the history of Conceptual Art and its example clearly demonstrates the intertwining of aesthetic, economic and institutional interests in the course of its establishment as an artistic genre. Incidentally, fundamental chapters of this history were written in the Rhineland, decisively influenced by the willingness of Rhenish art dealers to take risks.

At present, the chasm between what is being speculatively merchandised on the auction market as the cream of the crop and the reality of the art business as experienced by the overwhelming majority of its participants is widening again. It is therefore urgent that the question be posed about what in fact makes up art’s value, something that is not only measured in terms of prices but also with a view to its significance. In the process, a generation of younger artists have long broached the theme of the diverse and hence often contradictory claims made on and the values assigned to art in their own artistic practice. And justifiably so: The task at hand is perhaps even to exacerbate these aspects in their variety – instead of always complacently accepting perennial best rankings and record prices.


A publication with essays by Hubertus Butin, Gerrit Gohlke, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Barbara Hess, Astrid Mania, Alexander Koch, Christian Nagel and others is available.  



Installation views 2013, Photography Katja Illner

With the support of

Brenna Murphy

June 22th until September 29th 2013
Opening: June 21th, 7.30 p.m.

The computer-generated works by the American artist Brenna Murphy (born 1986) recall the psychedelic motifs of the hippie era. Often only available for viewing online, they are oriented on traditional folk art as well as its naturalistic, spiritual approaches, which the artist translates to the present day through her experimental exploration of digital possibilities. 

The importance of the seemingly infinite expanses for Murphy, the constantly improving graphic programmes and the resultant, continuously expanding artistic room for manoeuvre cannot be underestimated. Self-built musical instruments, sound installations and arrangements as well as individual recordings of music in addition to the linking of folkloristic customs with modern digital techniques are likewise at the foreground of her creative artistic process. The exhibition is being curated by Constanze Murfitt.

Installation views 2013, Photography Katja Illner

Please find the link to Brenna Murphy’s homepage below, which is actualized frequently by her and seen as part of her interdisciplinary work:


Proposals and Propositions

June 7th until 9th 2013

From Friday, June 7th through Sunday, 9th 2013 Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen will host a series of nightly events explicitly dedicated to "proposals" and "propositions" in reference to contemporary artistic and theoretical prospects. Participants are amongst others Amsterdam based artist Balthazar Berling (b. 1985), who will deliver a new performance, and the collective Studio for Propositional Cinema. 


Friday, June 7th 2013, 7.30 p.m.

NEW MEN, a performance by Balthazar Berling

Saturday, June 8th 2013, 7.30 p.m.

Inauguration! Inauguration! Proclamation! The underground activities of the Studio for Propositional Cinema have gone under-recognized for too long. It is time for the implications of their actions to be distributed throughout the culture. Hans-Jürgen Hafner and Adam Harrison with deliver speeches amongst a display of posters for films that may or may not be produced by Studio for Propositional Cinema. If flight patterns allow, the Cape Verdean film collagist Vanda Villeneuve will be in attendance. This doesn't mean that you possess us. We're haunting you because you let us. You, yes you. 

A collateral event, Studio for Propositional Cinema will open a presentation at the Kunstverein's Schaufenster on Neustraße.

Sunday, June 9th 2013, 5.30 p.m.

A lecture followed by a public conversation with curator Stephanie Seidel and Balthazar Berling around his performance NEW MEN (as a proposal for a new movement).

Installation views 2013, Photography Studio Mareike Föcking

Gunter Reski

Doktor Morgen neue Sorgen borgen

[Doctor Tomorrow Borrows New Sorrows]

March 9th until May 26th 2013
Opening: March 8th 2013, 7.30 p.m.

Image and text play an equally important role in the painting of Gunter Reski (born 1963). It is there also consequent when connections to the promotional techniques of visual communications (posters, murals, agitprop, pop and advertising aesthetics) are sought in the artist’s picture formats that often expand directly on the wall. Regardless of how eye-catching, in fact even low-brow Reski’s pictures appear at first glance, their primary characteristic is the demonstration of how imaginatively and diversely they again and again establish painting as their true theme, and even if it was only for the purpose of accusing it of possessing the intrinsically narrow horizon that comes about at the point where painting congeals into an institution, becomes a bank that, automated as it were, yields art dividends. 

Reski became active as an artist, author and curator in the early 1990s. At that time, painting was anything but self-evident, particularly within the progressively situated artistic milieu. This is reflected in the openness of Reski’s artistic practice that was typical of that time, especially in the way it incorporates conceptual, theoretical and communicative working methods over and above painting. At the same time this does not remain without influence on the painterly work itself, thus making it highly significant today from an historical perspective. 

It was the resistance against intellectual trends and the artistic zeitgeist that was then – and today still is – often the motivation for taking up the paintbrush of all things considering the many other instruments art makes available; but the applause that one can rightly expect for this reason alone does not necessarily come from the correct side. Doktor Morgen neue Sorgen borgen is the first institutional overview of Gunter Reski’s oeuvre. 

Aside from the retrospective selection of paintings and works on paper dating from two decades, the exhibition at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf also features new pieces by the artist, including a wall painting developed especially for the foyer of the Kunstverein. 

Hans-Jürgen Hafner will hold the lecture "Zu alter Whisky" in conjunction with the exhibition on Thursday, April 25th 2013, at 7.30pm.

Installation views 2013, Photography Katja Illner

Tobias Brembeck, Anja Ciupka, Andreas Fischer, Sabrina Fritsch, Roland Gätzschmann, Daniela Georgieva, Manuel Graf, Elmar Hermann, Marcus Herse, Simone Junker, Jan Kämmerling, Seb Koberstädt, Ulrike Kötz, Yun Lee, Anne Pöhlmann, Felicitas Rohden, Jeannette Schnüttgen, Therese Schult, Monika Stricker, Chris Succo, Thomas Trinkl, Jochen Weber, Christoph Westermeier, Manuela Wossowski

Von Wanderern, Wilderern & Dilettanten
10 Jahre dHCS - Stipendium

February 2nd until February 17th 2013
Opening: February 1st 2013, 7.30 p.m.
Finissage: February 17th 2013, 3.00 p.m.

On occasion of the 175th anniversary of de Haen Carstanjen & Sons in 2003 a private sponsor and Kunstverein started a joined studio grant for young artist who graduated from art academy. For a two year period five to six artists get a free studio in Dusseldorf-Reisholz. 

To celebrate 10 years of the dHCS-Studio Grant, this anniversary exhibition shows works of 24 former grant recipients.

Installation views 2013, Photography Katja Illner

Henry Flynt

Activities 1959-

October 6th 2012 until January 20th 2013
Opening: October 5th 2012, 7.30 p.m.

Art is just one aspect of the all-encompassing, transdisciplinary project Henry Flynt has been working on since 1959. The exhibition Henry Flynt: Activities 1959- in the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, attempts to accommodate this circumstance, by maintaining selective focus on his artwork.

This being the first ever museum exhibition from the 1940 born philosopher, mathematician, economist, artist, composer and musician, offers above all a comprehensive overview of his work relating to art. In addition the exhibition presents new work specifically realized for that occasion. An assortment of related documents solidifies the project’s historical aspect, grounding the artwork in its time.

Flynt’s work, especially his work he self-defined as the genre of “concept art” in 1961, challenges the basic assumptions associated with the institution of art, likewise its very foundation. This critical potential, represented on all levels of his work, has largely prevented an appropriate perception of his oeuvre; reason enough take on the endeavour of presenting this exceptional artistic project.

The exhibition was developed and realized in close cooperation with the artist, Henry Flynt.


Henry Flynt: Token, 2011, Work for the Internet. Courtesy Henry Flynt


Installation views 2012, Photography Katja Illner

Videotour by Henry Flynt through the exhibition (Camera/Sound by Alexander Lorenz)


The General Situation: Flynt and Hennix in Conversation, Recorded live on October 6th 2012 at Museum Ludwig's cinema, Cologne (Engineers: Brendan Reilly/Taketo Shimada, Photography: Claudia Kugler)


With the support of

Paulina Olowska, Vincent Vulsma, Martin Zellerhoff

We Aren't Musicians

July 7th until September 9th 2012
Opening: July 6th 2012, 7 p.m

Art, as we understand it over the past 200 years, has successfully emancipated itself from handcrafts. What can actually be classed as art has become a key question - without an unequivocal answer - both for those who make it and indeed art's audience in equal measure. The theme-based exhibition "We Aren't Musicians" is devoted specifically to the current question of the role of ability in art.

The participating artists Paulina Olowska (b. 1976), Vincent Vulsma (b. 1982) and Martin Zellerhoff (b. 1964) respectively will present a special selection of artworks. Not a group show as such, the theme of "We Aren't Musicians" can be accessed in the juxtaposition of individual, artistic practices. The question relating to individual ability is central to the topic here.

Installation views 2012, Photography Katja Illner

Dominik Sittig


April 21th until June 24th 2012
Opening: April 20th 2012, 7.30 p.m.

If negation were a colour, then it would be impossible to imagine the palettes of German painters without it. Admittedly, pictures using the colours of negation belong to the best that painting has to offer. Yet they do not cover upthe dreary subject matter, the moral deficit of an art that has lost its desire. Dominik Sittig kneads pictures out of the residues of negation, compositions that pitch themselves into the prevailing conditions. These paintings that veritably scream out their aversions and hysteria are not based on defeatism, but rather on a desperately loving passion. Sittig (b. 1975) – chronicler, analyst and critic of his times – paints, draws and declaims his message: it is always possible to do things better! Which also holds for his first museum-based solo exhibition for the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen – in a stronghold of German painting: Düsseldorf.

A publication with essays by Hermann Gabler, Fabian Ginsberg, Hans-Jürgen Hafner und Clemens Krümmel is available.

Installation views 2012, Photography Jürgen Staack

Josephine Pryde

Miss Austen Enjoys Photography.

February 4th until April 9th 2012
Opening: February 3rd at 7.30 p.m.

Josephine Pryde (born 1967 in Northumberland, England) favours a photographic approach. However, her artistic practice extends far beyond this. Although she makes use of the technical and iconic potential of photography in its various forms in order to create visually attractive and conceptually precise images, it should not be overlooked that her work also encompasses a great variety of artistic media and, indeed, even incorporates the format of the exhibition itself

Thus Josephine Pryde’s current intention in the show at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, has a dual aspect. In the form of a new, immediate photographic work produced on site, the artist has created a framework narrative for this retrospective – her first in a museum context – of her photographic and artistic oeuvre over the past two decades. This retrospective of her own oeuvre thus becomes the object of her new work which has been conceived especially for this event.

The exhibition Miss Austen Enjoys Photography., which Josephine Pryde conceived in conjunction with the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, will be continued towards the middle of 2012 at the Kunsthalle Bern, entitled Miss Austen Still Enjoys Photography. 

Installation views 2012, Photography Jürgen Staack