PRINT May 1998

Eastern Sight

Leipzig’s new art center

WHEN THE GALERIE für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig opens its doors in mid-May, it’ll become the first new institution devoted to contemporary art in the states that made up the former East Germany. The kickoff will feature two exhibitions that presage the Galerie’s activities to come. The ground floor show, “ONTOM”—an invented word the institution is licensing from Adib Fricke’s language project The Word Company—will focus on pieces and projects that highlight the role of the viewer in completing the work. This strategy is central to much of what will be on view, including contributions from artists such as Fricke, Vanessa Beecroft, Adam Page, Dan Peterman, Sam Samore, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Simone Westerwinter.

On the second floor of the Galerie (which is housed in a late-nineteenth-century, Italian-style villa) will be “[Collection ’98],” an exhibition showcasing the museum’s permanent holdings. The collection has been assembled through donations, particularly from the League of German Industry’s Museum Fund, and long-term or permanent loans from the League, the state of Saxony, and the East German Savings Foundation in Saxony. Comprising work from the past forty years, right up to such young artists as Tobias Rehberger and Dan Peterman, the collection will be hung in various displays for only three months each year. By showing the permanent collection on a limited basis, Galerie director Klaus Werner and curator Jan Winkelmann will reserve the 7,500-square-foot space primarily for solo and group exhibitions. Werner (a former East Berlin gallerist who organized the 1993 traveling Blinky Palermo retrospective) and Winkelmann (curator of the acclaimed 1996 show “Fast Nights/Almost Invisible” in Singen) have scheduled solo shows by Matthew McCaslin, Tamara Grcic, Olafur Eliasson, and Heimo Zobernig for 1998, as well as “Weather Everything,” an exhibition by guest curator Eric Troncy, of Consortium in Dijon, involving works that deal with representation and public memory. The Galerie will take a particular interest in artists from the eastern German states; Carsten Nicolai, for instance, whose work was seen in the most recent edition of Documenta, has a solo show opening in July.

Besides exhibitions and lectures by curators and critics, the Galerie’s Studiohaus, which will offer artist-in-residence awards to international figures and provide stipends to local artists, promises to make Leipzig one of the livelier new centers for contemporary art in Germany.

Yilmaz Dziewior writes frequently for Artforum. He is based in Cologne.

Translated from the German by David Jacobson.