(translation: “Since I First Saw Him – Reflections on Robert Schumann in the Arts”)
Curating / project & photo / video / installation, 2010
Kunstsammlungen Zwickau

On the occasion of Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday in 2010, the Kunstsammlungen Zwickau invited me to create an exhibition dealing with the reception of Robert Schumann and his music in the visual arts from the 19th to the 21st century. Museum Director Petra Lewey wanted an exhibition that would “attempt to approach the composer not only on a theoretical level, i.e., a cultural history overview of reception, but rather using contemporary visual arts strategies as well, to allow visitors to experience Robert Schumann and his music – both visually and emotionally – in a new way.”

For Seit ich ihn gesehen – Reflexionen zu Robert Schumann in der Kunst (documented in the exhibition catalogue of the same name), I brought together ca. 250 very heterogeneous artifacts, including artworks from various collections as well as widely varying interpretations of Schumann and his work from the worlds of art, literature, film, design and merchandising. I organized these into seven thematically linked areas, and often juxtaposed them with works of my own that I created for the exhibition. It was important to me not only to document Schumann’s impact on the art world, but to trace the path of his influence up to the present moment.

I worked with various people (incl. music historians, collectors, young musicians, music enthusiasts, school children, students) to create a series of new artworks for the exhibition. I created several photo and video works, including eight music videos for love songs by Schumann (produced in collaboration with high school students), as well as room installations, a poster competition (called “Robert!”, a fictitious image campaign for Robert Schumann), and interactive digital works (incl. a collection of YouTube videos with a Flash-based navigation). Several of these works were acquired by the Robert Schumann Haus in Zwickau after the exhibition and are now on permanent display there.

A dynamic program of events offered museum visitors many opportunities to get involved: e.g. the “Tango Schumann” workshop conducted by the London performance artist Anthony Howell and the South African dancer Lindi Köpke (see Tango Schumann).

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Photography, 2011
Collaboration with Emma B.
@ Folge der Generationen, Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Dresden

Staged photography and texts: 6 inkjet prints mounted on DiBond, each 60 x 40 cm, and 6 text panels (printed on aluminum), each 14 x 20 cm

Created for the exhibition Folge der Generationen @ Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst in Dresden.

It’s a late summer afternoon, and we have a plan. Everyone’s out for the afternoon, and now we’ve got the place to ourselves: the apartment in the Oberlausitz, which the family has been renting for nearly half a century now. Full of stuff, full of secrets, full of places to hide. We explore, we document, we giggle and work quickly. We want to hold onto this moment – our time together, our project, our game: “I spy.”

After our activities in her grandparents’ apartment, Emma B. and I showed the photos to several family members and asked them to tell us what they saw in each picture. To Emma’s amazement and delight, most of her relatives didn’t realize that anything was different than usual (that is to say that Emma was hiding in each room/image): they saw the rooms as they have always experienced them. Naturally, the nine different observations of each photograph are quite subjective: they’re full of memories, emotions, excuses and insinuations. Thus, they go beyond what is visible, opening up further dimensions of these private spaces for the viewer.

(translation: “My Dear Swan! An Interplay with Richard Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin'”)
Curating / project & video / installation, 2012
Collaboration with Elli, Kitty, Lena, Lilly, Lizzy & Wiebke
Richard-Wagner-Stätten Graupa

In 2011, I was asked to create an exhibition for the Richard-Wagner-Stätten Graupa, one which would reach a broad audience and would make people aware of their new exhibition space – the Jagdschloss – in Graupa. I decided to focus on just one of Richard Wagner’s operas – the opera ‘Lohengrin’, which Wagner worked on in Graupa in the summer of 1846 – and to work with local schoolgirls to create a video about this opera for the exhibition.

Showing scenes of our working process, the video Mein lieber Schwan! Ein Wechselspiel mit Richard Wagners ‘Lohengrin’ depicts – in an entertaining and poetic way – the girls’ attempt to understand and to feel a connection to Wagner’s opera, and invites the viewers to do the same.

The project began with a workshop presented in cooperation with the Semperoper Junge Szene in Dresden. Students from two different high schools in Pirna were invited to participate. Afterwards, six of those students went on to work with me on this project.

During the rehearsals and filming sessions in the Lohengrinhaus / Richard-Wagner-Stätten Graupa, we worked together to develop various playful and imaginative responses to the opera, alternating between simply reacting to the music and following the mental images inspired by Wagner’s music and the tale of a knight called Lohengrin. I then used the footage of these sessions to present the story of this creative process.

We focused on the scene near the end of the first act of Wagner’s opera, when the knight makes his appearance: Lohengrin has come to Brabant to defend the young maiden Elsa, who has been accused of a crime. Not only is the scene thrilling, both musically and dramatically, but it’s one that has always delighted audiences. It has also always presented a challenge for each new stage production. For Lohengrin doesn’t simply come onto the stage, but rather enters the scene in a little boat being pulled by a swan! It’s a scene that’s magical, puzzling, peculiar, and yet at the same time simply wonderful.

The video was shown in a construction (images, right) that not only provided seating, but also played with contextual elements from the opera, and which I created together with the architect Roland Züger (www.kesselzueger.com).

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(translation: “Take a Look! Non-experts Choose Artworks From the Depot”)
Curating / participatory Project, 2012
Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Dresden
Collaboration with the Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

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“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ essays about this work:

“It’s a public collection, so it belongs to us. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got!”

With this premise as the starting point, I invited various citizens of the city of Dresden to talk with me about art – to tell me what kind of artworks they like, or would like to see in an exhibition – and to join me in an experiment. I asked them to choose artworks from the Kunstfonds collection (Art Fund Collection, Dresden State Art Collections) and, as “non-experts”, to curate an exhibition. I worked with five different groups of people who otherwise don’t have anything to do with art (at least not professionally) to help them develop original ideas for an art show that was then part of the large-scale exhibition in the Motorenhalle.

All in all, the project participants selected about 90 prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations from the time between 1949 and 2010 from the Kunstfonds collection. Silke Wagler, director of the Kunstfonds, said: “It’s important to mention that many of these works hadn’t been seen for a long time – had it not been for this unusual project, they wouldn’t have had the best chances of being shown at any time in the near future.”

The participating groups each tried to find artworks that would fulfill the criteria they had come up with beforehand. My role as artist and initiator of this project was to assist and guide them, as well as to pre-select works for them to look at in the depot. The participants came up with a title and a short text to accompany the artworks they selected for the exhibition:

In fact, not every group was able to find what they were looking for amongst the works in the Kunstfonds collection. The youngest group of participants (the Blue Pearls cheerleaders) had a hard time finding the lively, cheerful, dynamic, and optimistic images of groups they had been hoping to find.

I decided to use the occasion to create a new work for the exhibition, playfully treating the Blue Pearls’ criteria as if they were the requirements for a commissioned work of art – and to involve the cheerleaders in the process. I organized for them to perform for residents of the Clara Zetkin nursing home in Dresden, and the cheerleaders came up with their own choreography for the event. Together with Thilo Frö:bel, I documented the performance and then used the photos to create *gold* (see image lower right). The photomontage light box was displayed along with the Blue Pearls’ selection in the exhibition Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot.

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Installation with photography, video, drawings & objects, 2014
@ Atelier und Künstler, Kommandantenhaus Dilsberg

I Think I Know What You Want To Say is a work that plays with the idea of collecting something that is essentially immaterial – namely our body language, our gestures and signs. How can I build such an imaginary collection? How can I organize it and show it to others? Which discrete “non-objects” will I include in my collection? Can I perhaps organize my (as yet non-existent) collection, in order to then systematically collect according to my own preconceived classification? How do things like desire or coincidence play into this process?

This work is about human communication and about the process of working together. It’s also about understanding (or misunderstanding) each other. How do we attribute thoughts and attitudes, or even urges and intentions to other individuals? Do I really understand what you’re saying to me? Do I understand what you WANT to say to me?

The gestures presented in videos and images were collected according to 13 predetermined categories (which themselves – as text drawings – make up a part of the installation):

I worked with more than 40 people from Heidelberg and the region to create the collection.

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT THIS WORK
Dr. Hans-Jürgen Buderer (former Director of Art and Cultural History for the Reiss Engelhorn Museums in Mannheim) wrote in the exhibition catalog:

“Behind the playfully poetic title lies one of Janet Grau’s typically subtle and cleverly thought-out performances, which becomes tangible for the viewer in a media installation for the exhibition in the Kommandantenhaus in Dilsberg. […] If you take a closer look at the catalogue of gestures which Janet Grau has developed…[it becomes clear that the] classification criteria she has created for her collection of gestures is not derived from a scientific structuring scheme based on observable forms of gestures. In an obvious analogy to Italo Calvino, the categories she has developed stem instead from a reflection upon the possible subjective needs and expectations of an imaginary onlooker. […] The work I Think I Know What You Want to Say implies one of those basic ideas that has time and again inspired the artist, namely the question of whether (and if, then how) we even understand each other at all when we communicate using our current modes of communication.”

(translation: “Care: Between Compulsive Act and Cultural Heroism”)
Staged photography, video, performance and installation, 2004
Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Dresden

The inspiration for Pflege: Zwischen Zwangshandlung und kultureller Heldentat was provided by the 100-year flood in Dresden (August 2002). When the depots of Dresden’s museums were threatened and eventually flooded, curators and indefatigable helpers carried Saxony’s treasures up into the exhibition spaces. The indelible images of this heroic effort, widely broadcast in the media, were followed by countless portrayals of people engaged in the care of “cultural heritage” as well as other (also much more banal) objects. I was interested in the staging of these “caring behaviors” for the camera: the gaze, the gestures, the posture taken.

I put together an extensive collection of such photographs from the newspaper (which laid the foundation for this work) and, in collaboration with six young students from the art school in Dresden (HfBK), used this subject matter to develop a series of staged events. The resulting photographs and the making-of video material were joined by additional images, objects and film/video works to become an installation nearly 500 m² in size.

Over the course of the ten-day exhibition, we constantly changed the space, further defining it with our daily ‘caring activities’ (performances). Many visitors to the exhibition took advantage of the opportunities to actively participate in the process.

The various elements in the exhibition playfully referred to and related to each other. The correlation between “caring” and performative demonstrations of identity, as well as the obsessive nature of such pursuits, became tangible.

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WORK IN PROGRESS
Performance / video / installation

In this work, I am investigating two concepts – “knowledge” and “imagination” – as well as the way in which these two are intertwined. Using new insights in the fields of philosophy, cognitive science and developmental psychology as my starting point, I conduct my own experiments.

For example, how are imagination and play (imagining an alternative reality) related to experimentation (testing hypotheses)? What does the process of learning have to do with “cultural transmission”? According to recent research, “pretending” involves more than just the power of imagination – it is a cultural process that can actually implement new realities.

This project has developed out of many years of working with non-artists in participatory projects (involving performance, body language, stories and play). For Learning Machines (Everything We’ll Ever Think Is Potentially There From The Start), I’m working with children to create scenes for the video camera. Some of these scenes quote well-known research experiments, whereas others specifically deal with philosophical questions.

The video clips will be displayed inside of mobile objects (sculptures), which will in turn be integrated into an installation, so that the complex interplay of ideas, theory and (artistic) practice can become tangible.

“For human beings, the really important evolutionary advantage is our ability to create new worlds. Look around the room you’re sitting in. Every object in that room – the right angle table, the book, the paper, the computer screen, the ceramic cup – was once imaginary. Not a thing in the room existed in the Pleistocene. Every one of them started out as an imaginary fantasy in someone’s mind. And that’s even more true of people. All the things I am – a scientist, a philosopher, an atheist, a feminist – all those kinds of people started out as imaginary ideas too. I’m not making some relativist post-modern point here, [because] right now the computer and the cup and the scientist and the feminist are as real as anything can be. But that’s just what our human minds do best – take the imaginary and make it real. I think now that cognition is also a way we impose our minds on the world.

In fact, I think now that the two abilities – finding the truth about the world and creating new worlds – are two sides of the same coins. Theories, in science or childhood, don’t just tell us what’s true – they tell us what’s possible, and they tell us how to get to those possibilities from where we are now. When children learn and when they pretend, they use their knowledge of the world to create new possibilities. So do we, whether we are doing science or writing novels. I don’t think anymore that Science and Fiction are just both Good Things that complement each other. I think they are, quite literally, the same thing.” – Alison Gopnik (Institute of Human Development, UC Berkeley)

IN PROGRESS
Performance

Reason’s Muscle is a dance theater piece which playfully deals with two questions: 1) Is the world getting better or worse? 2) If it is getting better, what is driving that progress?

The piece stages a dialogue between the cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker and his wife, the renowned philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. This dialogue, which is based on their writings and research, explores questions of philosophy, morality and human nature. Dancers interact with the speakers on stage. As ‘rhetorical tools’, they accompany, comment upon and illuminate the arguments. Now and then they create a humorous productive disturbance, affecting the pace of the discourse, giving the audience a chance to keep up with the lively debate.

Certain aspects of the script and staging will be developed in a participatory process. The resulting text will be performed on stage by professionals.

WORK IN PROGRESS  
Long-term project (photography, needlework)

Endless hours invested in a piece. Cross-stitch embroidery as an extravagant (and absurd) way of reproducing images.

The process is complex, multi-layered and extremely time-consuming—but that’s the point. It’s about time, and it’s also about taking a step back from the photos. It’s also about playing with perception. I experiment with the level of detail and the accuracy of the colors, until someone who knows the original photo can immediately recognize the embroidered version, whereas for others, it remains vague.

I transform selected old family photos into simplified pixel designs, reduce the number of colors from millions to a random number (like 27 or 56 or 84), match these to the embroidery floss colors, and work systematically with very complex patterns. All of which contrasts sharply with the content of the images, which always only depict a single moment – a split second.

For me, the embroidered images are more like objects. That’s why I plan to show them together with the working drawings, color charts, etc., as well as with other objects together in an installation (working title: I’ll Fly Away).

IN PROGRESS 
Performance

The dance theater piece, The Mattering Instinct (working title), brings dance, philosophy and social criticism together in an unusual format inspired, in part, by a competition. The  “Dance Your PhD” competition, which has been around since 2008, challenges young scientists to use dance to present their complex research projects to an audience and to try to present them in the most entertaining and entertaining way possible.

This combination of earnestness and playful lightness is important for the piece, because The Mattering Instinct brings a theory of the US-American philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein to the stage. The piece unfolds Goldstein’s inspiring “mattering theory” both linguistically and through dance, testing the added value of this combination for the philosophical argumentation on the one hand, and for artistic expression on the other.

Goldstein believes that we are endowed with a “mattering instinct,” and that many moral questions can be answered with special consideration of this “mattering”. The word “mattering”, which is difficult to translate, bundles various aspects that cannot be succinctly summarized in one single German word: the aspect of the experience of self-efficacy, combined with that of recognition by others, as well as the attribution of meaning to one’s own actions.

The performance strives to interchangeably explain, comment on, and convey Goldstein’s philosophical arguments, but confronts the philosophical ideas with the inherent law of dance semantics.

As soon as we know we are, we want what we are to mean something, to matter. This “mattering” is essential for human beings:

“We can’t pursue our lives without thinking that our lives matter…Clinical depression is when you are convinced that you don’t and will never matter. That’s a pathological attitude, and it highlights, by its pathology, the way in which the ‘mattering instinct’ normally functions. To be a fully functioning, non-depressed person is to live and to act, to take it for granted that you can act on your own behalf, pursue your goals and projects. And that we have a right to be treated in accord with our own commitment to our lives mattering.” (Excerpt from the interview, The Mattering Instinct: A Conversation with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, the Edge Foundation, 2016).