Mal schauen! Laien wählen Kunstwerke aus dem Depot

(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:

  • BLUE PEARLS CHEERLEADERS for the Dresden Monarchs: “Incomplete! Unvollständsch!”
  • CLUB DER MÜNDIGEN BÜRGER from the Bürgerbühne at Staatsschauspiel Dresden: “Man fühlt sich so, man weiß nicht wie…”
  • FAMILY G. (three generations of a Dresdner family): “Vordergründige Hintergründe, oder: Zu Besuch beim fröhlichen Schwein”

  • MALWINA E.V. Team of the Beratungs- und Vermittlungsstelle für Kindertagespflege: “Wundertüte”

  • WERBEGEMEINSCHAFT Dresden-Neustadt: “NEU – ALT – BUNT: Dresden-Neustadt”

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:

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