An overview of the contemporary international art scene in Germany

Posted filed underContemporary Art, Germany, Shows.

The Sprengel Museum Hannover, the kestnergesellschaft and the Kunstverein Hannover are presenting a large overview of the contemporary international art scene in Germany entitled MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI, which opened on May 16, 2012. The exhibition shows groundbreaking positions of a younger generation of international artists living and working in Germany. Thematic emphases illustrate and relate today’s artistic concerns. Current tendencies, artistic approaches and forms of expression are examined and discussed in reference to Germany’s international art world. Following nationwide studio visits, the 45 participating artists were introduced at the press conference on May 15, 2012. The artists come from fourteen different countries, thirty-three of them are based in Berlin and twenty female artists are participating.

MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI focuses on six main themes conceived to highlight current artistic concerns. The curators of the exhibition place the artistic involvement with (social, virtual, institutional) “Spaces,” “Narrativity,” “Networkings,” with “The past in the present,” with the “Super-sensory,” and with the limitations and stretching of the medium (“Medium as material”) at the center of their inquiry into the current state of artistic creativity in Germany as possible approaches to the exhibition. Many of the works in the show were created specifically for MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI.

The exhibition is the successor of the popular 2007 show “Made in Germany,” the three art centers’ first collaborative exhibition. The successful show conveyed an impression of the active, prolific and varied art scene in the country. It included several artists who were discovered internationally as a result of the exhibition, which had over 60,000 visitors and around 400 reviews.


Medium as Material describes an intense engagement with the possibilities of the mediums of painting, photography, film or sculpture. On the one hand, a specific occupation with different materials is observable: Their structure and exterior surface are combined and, like colors in painting, brought into an aesthetic force field and set in relation to one another. On the other hand, artists are trying to do away with the boundaries separating the single mediums, to mediate between painting and photography, photography and sculpture, but also between analogue and digital techniques, and connect them. Thus the medium becomes the actual artistic material, its message. This is also reflected in the impact of the computer and of representational and communicational virtuality on our dealings with the tangible world. (> Rosa Barba, Alexandra Bircken, Marieta Chirulescu, Simon Denny, Jan Paul Evers, Max Frisinger, Gregor Gleiwitz, Olaf Holzapfel, Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D), Nina Rhode, Ricarda Roggan, Julia Schmidt, Susanne M. Winterling, Alexander Wolff)

A general art-historical interest in the contemporary art of the last ten years has led us to embed The Past in the Present. However what is crucial here is not the direct influence of the respective teachers who interact with artists and who they build on, rather points of contact can be found in artists’ wider historical recourse to the fields of Romanticism, pre-modernism and modernism, in Surrealism and, above all, in Constructivism. These are the eras that mark clear ‘sea changes’ in cultural history and that artistically transmit a utopian vision that today seems to have lost its way. “The Past in the Present” is shown in the form of direct references to certain artists or artworks or, as may be, in a reloading of past art styles and aesthetics. Beyond any formal allusions, the occupation with concrete historical events or figures can be observed. Straightforward forms of research that exploit the past as a matrix for a perspective on the present make it clear that this is not about any kind of historicizing repetition, but that the searching out, re-sorting, reworking and translating defines part of the makeup of contemporary art. (> Natalie Czech, Simon Fujiwara, Cyprien Gaillard, Dirk Dietrich Hennig, Benedikt Hipp, Sven Johne, Alon Levin, Reynold Reynolds, Bernd Ribbeck, Kathrin Sonntag, Helen Verhoeven, Susanne M. Winterling)

Elements of a storyline and its reflection, of the occupation with Narrativity, are noted time and again in contemporary art. Not only, as expected, the field of films, but also installations and drawings lead the viewer to different forms of narration. In MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI, historical research and fiction are often superimposed. Researched facts and elements of fiction are seamlessly combined. Or the research behind, and the presentation of, the revisited documents form the basis of a fictive story that is then narrated. The depicted research is evidence for the credibility of the fiction as well as the medium of the narrative. The viewer reconstructs the connection between the single elements, fills the blanks in the fragmentary story and him/herself (re)constructs a fiction offered by the artist. (> Keren Cytter, Omer Fast, Simon Fujiwara, Dirk Dietrich Hennig, Sven Johne, Reynold Reynolds, Julia Schmidt, Jorinde Voigt)

Networkings enter the picture in different ways in MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI. In their works, several contemporary artists develop a web of allusions and references. Their references can go back to historical artworks, artists or theoretical texts that exist outside of the art world. Other artists, in turn, develop a web-like reference system in which one work alludes to another or evolves out of it. Networked thinking and (re)acting is here reflected, as promoted, not least of all, by the Internet as well as by the enormous increase in mobility of all kinds. The artworks show themselves to be relative to, and always related to, other works, representative of a mobility that present-day life has taken up. (> Saâdane Afif, Shannon Bool, Mike Bouchet, Matti Braun, Natalie Czech, Olaf Holzapfel, Marcellvs L., Michael Pfrommer, Michael Riedel, Jorinde Voigt, Suse Weber)

The theme of Spaces is qualified by various artistic engagements with surrounding space. This is, for one, understood as the concrete experience with physical space and its thematization in installations and sculptures. And two, at issue is an occupation with the production of space via actions, representations and experiences, of strategies to cope with everyday, social and virtual spaces, their boundaries and possibilities. (> Ulf Aminde, Shannon Bool, Mike Bouchet, Keren Cytter, Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D), Kitty Kraus, Klara Lidén, Agata Madejska, Mandla Reuter, Alexander Wolff)

Just as artists redefine medial, historical or categorical boundaries, some of them try to extend the sensually knowable to include a metaphysical dimension. Thus in different ways, some of their works point beyond the object or the picture to aspects of the enigmatic or the metaphysical, aspects that cling to what is sensually unverifiable. This interest in the non-sensual or even the Super-Sensory is above all the expression of mistrust in the supposedly one-dimensional meaning of a picture. (> Rosa Barba, Ulla von Brandenburg, Nina Canell, Benedikt Hipp, Alicja Kwade, Michael Pfrommer, Bernd Ribbeck, Kathrin Sonntag)

The curators of MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI are Susanne Figner, Martin Germann, Antonia Lotz, Kathrin Meyer, Carina Plath, Gabriele Sand, Kristin Schrader, Ute Stuffer and René Zechlin. The exhibition’s organisers are the directors Ulrich Krempel (Sprengel Museum Hannover), Veit Görner (kestnergesellschaft) and René Zechlin (Kunstverein Hannover). The exhibition is under the patronage of Federal President Joachim Gauck.

Image above: Alon Levin, Installation view MADE IN GERMANY ZWEI, Hannover, 2012. Courtesy Ambach & Rice, Los Angeles. Photo: Raimund Zakoswki.