ZURÜCK ZUR ERDE! [BACK TO EARTH!]
Bettina von Arnim, Hanna-Mari Blencke, Habima Fuchs, Thomas Grötz, Uwe Henneken, Franziska Hufnagel, Jan-Holger Mauss, Hans-Jörg Mayer, Vincent Tavenne, Corinne Wasmuht, Marcus Weber
Curated by Thomas Grötz, Gundula Schmitz, Marcus Weber
At the beginning of the 20th century, Russian Cosmists believed they could raise the dead and colonize distant planets with people who would have become immortal. By now, we rather seem to 'ride the last big wave', like Lieutenant Doolittle in John Carpenter's SF dystopia “Dark Star” — only to burn up in a distant atmosphere afterwards.
'Let there be light!' cries art, which seems to mediate between a hopeless darkness and the illumination of conditions — or embodies both at the same time.
But first there is a black hole. Vincent Tavenne's sculpture “Black Hole” opens the exhibition course, in which aspects such as retrofuturism, occultism and avant-garde, notions of 'space is the place', metaphysical abstractions, and roaming planets are artistically encompassed.
A further gravitational field within the exhibition, which attempts to navigate through the infinite parallel universes of outer space and earth by means of painting, sculpture, and drawing, is formed by an ensemble of painting-and-object-hybrids by Hanna-Mari Blencke. The ensemble combines the 'own world' of an individual constructivism with paranormal phenomena (slogan: “…Höhere Wesen befehlen“ [“…Higher beings command”]). One also encounters the fantastic geologies of Jan-Holger Mauss, which illustrate alien and at the same time familiar habitats, as well as a 'desert' in the vein of Informalism by Franziska Hufnagel, over which enigmatic geoglyphs or runes seem to have been drawn.
Clearly identifiable, however, is the monumental astronaut lying in an endless cube grave field in the 1972 painting by Bettina von Arnim. Is this futuristic pharaonic tomb an early document of a fear of robotization and the looming reign of algorithms? An almost fashionable-looking unisex space suit for astronauts also is, along with other pictorial motifs relating to the theme of space, at the center of Corinne Wasmuht's contribution to the exhibition: a photogravure based on a collage. The figures in Marcus Weber's paintings crystallize in an iridescent emptiness, they delve into seemingly bygone utopias in a hauntological and ghostly manner. Then one encounters delicately drawn metaphysical geometries by Habima Fuchs, as well as a rising sun by Uwe Henneken, which is linked to the myth of the Phoenix and whose symbolic, supernatural radiance is anything but dystopian.
The encyclopedically conceived 32-part tableau of paintings by Thomas Grötz, on the other hand, combines planetary gloom with life-giving light, as well as with abstract and worldly 'contents' inscribed in the respective circular forms.
Opposite the planetary ensemble is a group of paintings by Hans-Jörg Mayer depicting disco balls, whose imaginary flashes of light, on the one hand, tell of a past, hedonistically communal sphere of life; on the other hand, however, their radiant power does not yet seem to have been extinguished.
This twofold movement is also inherent in the exhibition's motto “Zurück zur Erde!” [“Back to Earth!”], which is not only about new departures and bold and escapist fantasies, but also about a rear projection onto the conditions that currently afflict us.