Wolf Jahn

  • Ken’ichiro Taniguchi

    The conventional wisdom used to be that there was no spot on earth that hadn’t already been mapped and surveyed. But in recent decades, artists have been showing us how much we’ve overlooked, inventing or postulating new criteria to help us locate our surroundings in fresh ways. Among these artists is Ken’ichiro Taniguchi, who since 2000 has been defining his art of the urban map using the Japanese concept of hecomi (crack, indentation, or, figuratively, exhaustion). This fall, Taniguchi showed his recent work in Hamburg as the fourteenth installment of this ongoing project.

    Delicately branching

  • Videopanel 2008

    Video art has by now become so well established that its massive representation in big exhibitions has developed into a problem: When there are numerous works, their overall length taxes the public’s concentration span. The international video festival Videopanel took place for the first time in 2006 (under the title International Forum for Video Art) as part of a larger exhibition on contemporary art in public space, “Art and Consumer Architecture,” and its organizers have clearly learned from experience. This year, the second installment of Videopanel included eleven contributions, with a

  • Yesim Akdeniz Graf

    The notion of authentic experience no longer enjoys the status it once did, not even in art. Even the word authenticity sounds a bit odd in today’s cultural climate. Perhaps it was Giorgio di Chirico, the painter of pittura metafisica, who first drew attention to the modern loss of authentic experience in his depictions of a primordial human nature grown obsolete. This loss, which can produce either melancholy or a sense of freedom, calls for new approaches to art. According to Yesim Akdeniz Graf, the only thing that can give us “a feeling of difference” today is “biography and referentiality.”

  • Otto Mühl

    Last year MAK Vienna presented its comprehensive Otto Mühl retrospective as an emphatically painting-heavy show, though his work as a performance artist filled a good portion of the accompanying catalogue. In Hamburg, whence the retrospective traveled at the instigation of collector Harald Falckenberg, the overall appearance of the exhibition was considerably changed. Here the half-darkened rooms were dominated by eighteen large screens showing what was only peripherally present in Vienna: documentation of Mühl’s concrete actions of the ’60s. The paintings were exiled to dimly lit walls, where

  • Martin Munkácsi

    Martin Munkácsi left Berlin in 1934. A photojournalist from Hungary, he had worked there for six years, rising to become one of the principal photographers for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, until the worsening political situation compelled him to emigrate to the US. There he gained new renown, this time as a fashion photographer. Munkácsi advanced to become the best-paid photographer of his time, rising as quickly as he would later, ultimately, be forgotten. When he died in 1963, Richard Avedon was nearly alone among his colleagues in paying tribute to the former prince of photography.


  • Maja Weyermann

    Modernity brought a new kind of space into being, one that was historically predetermined: a unified space with inherent clarity, transparency, and logic. In this space, the order of classical geometry is as much at home as the idea of a purified architecture reduced to its material qualities. In the images of Maja Weyermann, this space reemerges, albeit in a changed form. Each of them depicts a single space, often a historically charged relic of modernism, but by being virtual they break with modernism. Thus, what arises is an incestuous, even self-impregnating space, genetically altering the

  • Atlas Group/Walid Raad

    Writing history is never easy. Especially if you come from Lebanon, whose history has been recorded mostly from a Western perspective. Atlas Group/Walid Raad has already essayed a new take on it: the attempt to investigate present-day Lebanon from the perspective of an artistic-historical convergence, through invented documents combined with real ones and the persona of the fictive historian Dr. Fadl Fakhouri. Thus, differentiating between the real and the invented, the authentic and the imaginary, in Raad’s work only marginally addresses its point, for in this difference appears but the “false

  • Werner Büttner

    Zdenek Felix had long since presented Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger at the Deichtorhallen. To close his directorship, Felix invited Werner Büttner to mount a comprehensive retrospective and complete this “Friends’ Trilogy” in Hamburg. No art-school product, Büttner came to painting at Oehlen’s suggestion. Or better, he was provoked into painting, a medium that did not enjoy high standing in their eyes, being too burdened with ideas like sublimity and truth. But painting, as we well know, can also be summoned onto the canvas by destructive desires and the revaluing of values. Büttner’s

  • Eigene Systeme

    The attempt to counter prevailing political, economic, and social realities with an alternative model may be the most ubiquitous impulse in modern and contemporary art. “Eigene Systeme” (Autonomous systems) tried to situate itself in this dichotomy of “own” and “other.” The emphasis was on experiment, the fictive, and individual spaces of freedom. But the real constraints of economy and ecology, urbanism and time were the borders of these realms, within which a total of eight artistic positions had room to play and to work with their “autonomous systems.”

    In the video Being, 2000–2001, Luis Felipe

  • Nicole Wermers

    With her “French Junkies 1–11,” 2002, a series of sculptures about two and a half feet high, Nicole Wermers has brought the public ashtray into the gallery as an object both useful and aesthetic. In the form of tall columns, rectangular towers, cubes stacked together like steps, or vitrines, the “French Junkies” evoke costly design objects and lifestyle accessories. Their materials—copper, aluminum, wood, plastic, glass—playfully evince the combinatorial taste of their time. Venetian blinds cloak one sculpture in an apparently regal skin, while another suggests a stylized and slender

  • Wolfgang Tillmans

    Selected works from the past four years have been brought together for Wolfgang Tillmans’s exhibition “Aufsicht”/“View from Above,” traveling to four venues across Europe. In Hamburg a group of earlier works was added, perhaps in honor of the artist’s onetime residence here. But the emphasis was on his most recent abstractions—works that play with light or that are actually drawn with traces of light. Great quantities of work from the series “Blushes,” 2000, “Conquistador,” 2000, and “Mental Pictures,” 2000–2001, filled the walls. Tillmans’s typical way of repeating motifs in varying formats

  • Nicola Torke

    Every well-stocked porno shop has two types of sex dolls for sale: the classic blowup doll and the imitation vagina, which (in terms of form) is, at best, abstract-looking. The latter “can’t replace a real pussy,” as the accompanying promotional material admits. “but it comes damn close!” Nicola Torke presented a refinement of a quite different nature in her latest exhibition. There, a sex doll stood on three short, titlike legs, cast in spotless white porcelain and detailed with a precious line of gold. This work, Seemannsbraut (Sailor’s cushion), 2001, didn’t look at all like a practical love

  • “Aussendienst”

    In the last two decades, “art in public spaces” has increasingly served as an opportunity for large-scale exhibitions in the center city. Tourism has been introduced to contemporary art, and art has in turn taken its place in the calendar of events. Now another large-scale project has been realized in the public sphere—one with a running time of more than a year (divided into three phases), an international roster of artists, and accompanying symposia. By the third and last phase, which begins in May 2001, around thirty artists will have completed their “Aussendienst” (off-site assignment).


  • Paloma Varga Weisz

    NATURAL SCIENCE IS EMBARRASSED by the question of the missing link. Worldviews informed by religion face other problems. Instead of bridging anatomical gaps, they seek psychological continuities between man and creature, consciousness and instinct. In many ways, Paloma Varga Weisz's carved wood sculptures (all works 1999–2000) suggest a religiously founded alliance between man and animal. Stylistically this religious outlook emerges in the way the figures, hewn of limewood, refer directly to predecessors from the history of sacred art. Through their garments, posture, and physiognomy, they often

  • Jochen Flinzer

    Display books are like slipcases with inscriptions: hollow inside, title printed on the outside. Unassuming phrases shine forth from their spines—they might be designated Art, or The Golden City, or Good Form, depending on the purpose of the display. In furniture stores these ornaments of cultivation decorate bookshelves and cabinets; in store windows and other places they turn up as “decorative suggestions” among all conceivable types of displayed goods.

    To Jochen Flinzer such displays provide a welcome canvas for seven of the twenty-four works in his exhibition “Mein Feld ist die Welt” (My

  • Susa Templin

    The history of mankind is manifest in its architecture—houses, temples, streets, markets, parks, and graves. It is a story that is continually being built, seen, and told anew. With her recent exhibition, “3 Feet 6 Inches Deep,” Susa Templin contributes her own chapter to this narrative with a watery vision of the city.

    Templin’s photo collages, small models, and fleeting sketches propose a Manhattan filled with water. This seems appropriate on one level, because her work itself might be described as fluid, osmotic, and dynamic, all qualities that she imagines for the architecture of the future—as

  • Martin Kippenberger

    Among the slew of obituaries and exhibitions sparked by Martin Kippenberger’s death two years ago was a show of the artist’s self-portraits curated by Peter Pakesch and Daniel Baumann at the Kunsthalle Basel. These self-portraits have now arrived in Hamburg, as part of the first comprehensive Kippenberger exhibition in Germany. The survey also includes installations (such as Heavy Burschi, 1989–90, and Sozialkistentransport, 1989), a selection of Lanternen (Lanterns), 1990–91, a great number of hotel drawings, paintings, and other works from throughout the artist’s career, as well as the

  • “Bridge/The Map Is Not the Territory”

    It is difficult to talk about “territory” today: as a concept, it serves as a negative criterion, or a background against which urban life and social development can be displayed. The recent exhibition “Bridge/The Map Is Not the Territory” was an attempt to renavigate this nonterritory. The curators, Ute Meta Bauer and Cathy Skene, with the sponsorship of several gallery owners (Galerie Jürgen Becker, Elke Dröscher, Galerie Dörrie Priess, Helga Maria Klosterfelde, and Produzentengalerie) and two art publishers (Sautter + Lackmann and Joachim Lührs Kunstantiquariat), developed a multileveled

  • Werner Büttner

    Rodin’s The Thinker, sitting placidly on a roundish stone, is getting on in years. It is impossible to tell whether the smoothness of the stone is due to the sitter’s backside being so broad, or whether the surface has been worn down by time. Perhaps the thinker is merely indolent, having chosen the ideal resting place. Although he is impressively stout, he is only a shadow of his former self—with a jutting belly and sacklike back. It is open to speculation whether Werner Büttner’s three paintings entitled Denker, in die Jahre gekommen (Thinker, getting on in years, all 1996) are self-portraits,

  • Fred Sandback

    From the floor to the wall, from the ceiling to the floor, or along the wall the little material of Fred Sandback was stretched: yarn, steel rods, and occasionally elastic. Wherever spaces inspired, Sandback spun his threads in order to create lines and imaginary separations. It is always a two-or three-dimensional geometric figure that seizes the space. Sandback comments, “I’m always in a dialogue with an artificial environment that someone else has constructed.”

    Over the past 25 years Sandback’s work has found its place in the history of sculpture. His thread marks the border between a world