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Deutsche Bank sponsors the major Jasper Johns show in São Paulo
Surreal Product Landscapes - Jeff Koons in Frankfurt
A great performance: Artists from the Deutsche Bank Collection at documenta 13
Retro-Fictions: Made in Germany Two in Hanover
Pawel Althamer in Berlin, Bolzano, and Munich
An Invitation to See: Yto Barrada in the Ikon Gallery
Space for Wild Thought - The 2012 Paris Triennale


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Made in Germany Two in Hanover

Breakthrough through Weakness is the title Alicja Kwade gave to the work she has contributed to the show Made in Germany Two. For the installation, she suspended clock weights from the past four centuries from the ceiling. Some of the metal weights seem to penetrate the floor of the Kunstverein Hannover, a symbol for the continuous, inexorable flow of time. At the same time, Kwade’s title sounds like an ironic counterpart to slogans such as “Progress through Technology” or, of course, “Made in Germany.”  

After last summer’s Based in Berlin show attempted to represent the current Berlin scene, three Hanover institutions have joined together for Made in Germany Two to investigate what the younger generation of artists in Germany are concerned with. Starting in 2010, curators of the Sprengel Museum, the Kestner Gesellschaft, and the Kunstverein researched and held joint discussions until they decided on the list of participants: 45 artists are presented, ranging from established positions such as Cyprien Gaillard, Klara Lidén, and Jorinde Voigt to less familiar names like Marcellvs L. or Gregor Gleiwitz. The title Made in Germany is a reference to the production location Germany—and it’s clearly multinational. 21 artists are from abroad, and most of them live in Berlin, for instance Shannon Bool, whose work is part of the Deutsche Bank Collection. The Canadian artist reconstructed the bars of a women’s prison and chained gleaming bronze casts of everyday objects to the bars: cigarette paper, lipstick, key chains. Things that speak of the lives and yearnings of the women prisoners inside.

Simon Fujiwara’s work also invites the viewer to reconstruct a story from an ensemble of objects. As the winner of the Cartier Award at the 2010 Frieze Art Fair, the British-Japanese artist created an archaeological excavation site in the fair tents of Regent’s Park. In Hanover, his work involves a library, allegedly a flea market find. The bizarre mix of books, records, pictures, and even a snake’s skin behind glass could allude to an Amazon explorer or even a sexual scientist. The personal effects of Theo Grünberg is a fascinating trip through a life that lasted 136(!) years, in which the boundaries between fact and fiction blur.  

As mysterious as Fujiwara’s biography of Grünberg is the story of Keren Cytter’s video Construction (2010). In 2011, the Israeli artist took part in Globe, the art and performance program marking the reopening of the Deutsche Bank Towers in Frankfurt. In Made in Germany, Cytter presents an 8-minute video drama in which she takes the chaos of life and love to the extreme. In the Deutsche Bank Towers, an entire floor is dedicated to Mike Bouchet, where some of his drawings made with homemade cola can be seen, among other works. But the pitch-black soft drink not only serves Bouchet as a substitute for ink; it’s also the pool water in the setting for his film Diet Cola Pool Outtakes (2010). Their skin reddened by carbon dioxide, two actors indulge in clichéd erotic scenes that resemble a commercial. In this work, as well, the Frankfurt-based Californian subverts advertising’s promise of happiness that consumer products are supposed to bring.

During their preparations for Made in Germany, the curators detected six core themes: “Medium as Material,” “Narrativity,” “The Yesterday in Today,” “the Supernatural,” “Spaces,” and “Networks.” Particularly noticeable is that the theme of politics, which the current Berlin Biennale has so aggressively dedicated itself to, is not an essential factor in Hanover. Instead of addressing social issues, the artists prefer to retreat into retro-fictions. Dirk Dietrich Hennig, for example, reconstructed the hospital room of a psychiatric clinic where the Fluxus artist Jean Guillaume Ferrée withdrew to to escape the strain of life and the art market. Magazine covers from the seventies testify to his past fame. Reynold Reynolds looks further back, to the thirties, in his partial film reconstruction of the story of a vampire film.

At times, Made in Germany conveys a somewhat backward-looking image of the production location Germany. Perhaps, particularly in a time of accelerating globalization, one should simply give up on the idea of doing any real justice to a entire country’s art scene with a single exhibition. Freed from this agenda, visitors to the Hanover show can discover what inspires a young international scene of artists in Germany today.

Made in Germany Two
International Art in Germany
Sprengel Museum, Kestner Gesellschaft, Kunstverein Hannover
May 17 – August 19, 2012

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