Participating artists: Julia Maier, Susanne Meier zu Eissen-Rau, Diana Sprenger, Sandra Strele, Fabrizio Tedeschi, Janos Tarko, Vedran Vrazalic
Exhibitions That Never Happened is dedicated to unrealised artistic projects and utopic ideas, to all the cancelled exhibitions that never took place due to budget cuts, injustices in the contemporary art system, underrepresentation of female artists, pandemics, military conflicts or else. Who wouldn’t know all the hopes, ambitions, dreams of fame and money that are irrevocably connected to exhibition plannings, and most importantly, labour behind all artistic and curatorial production. Because “if you don’t work, it won’t work.” It might be the labour of love but it’s labour none the less, it’s more often than not hard work behind all projects, seldom mentioned, often concealed beneath the lightness and joy of art.
This exhibition shows copies instead of original works. Literally the exhibition of originals in this constellation and context never happened before and will probably never happen in future. Inspired by the curatorial practice of Lucy Lippard who did “shows that would be so dematerialised they could be packed in a suitcase and taken by one artist to another country, and then another artist would take it to another country, and so on” our idea has been to exhibit prints of a selection of key works by contemporary European artists who have not been able to come to Berlin to show original pieces due to high transportation costs and other budget deficiencies. With a couple of exceptions where we luckily managed to obtain original works, it is a display of prints and copies whereas the originals remain in the artists’ ateliers and studios respectively.
The images of the artworks have been sent to us per email and printed out here for the Art in Public Spaces intervention project at the Nachbarschaftszentrum Brunnentreff Volkssolidarität in Berlin-Mitte with the purpose to acquaint our audiences and the people who work and frequent Brunnentreff with the contemporary artistic practice of artists selected by us, because the reputation of Berlin as “the place to be” for contemporary arts is excessively promising for artists in terms of careers, sales and marketing.
Quoting Sandra Strele from Riga, Latvia, who entitled her work cycle of paintings that render institutional exhibition halls and Kunsthalle interiers with male spectators gazing female nudes hung around we show here “Exhibitions That Never Happened” offering for once the female gaze at institutional hierarchies and politics of display of art that engages in a critical way with the conventional exhibition making, art dealing and presentation modes.
Strele’s pictures within pictures are strictly organised showing spaces that structure our gaze along grids and orders within geometrically arranged halls instrumentalising our seeing. She depicts spaces filled with paintings that are supposed to be sold to collectors, she depicts exhibitions that mostly enable art dealers to claim higher prices for artworks that have a rich exhibition history. Pictures from “Exhibitions that Never Happened” however subvert this system of selling and re-selling at higher prices. Prints of paintings about paintings in non-existent exhibition contexts focus on the issues of copy and original and on the artistic modes of expression. They introduce us into estranged places, where we find ourselves viewing people viewing works in rectangular frames within vast rectangular halls.
In some of Strele’s paintings grids and structures are visually broken up by lush vegetation that takes over subverting male dominated orders of showing art. Her works with nature motives remind us of Paul Klee’s garden series whereas one can’t help thinking of Antoine Watteau’s seminal work “Art Dealer Gersaint’s Shop Window” when contemplating her “Exhibitions” accurately fitted into the oil on canvass formats with much precision and love to detail. The whole project is a subtle attempt at institutional critique, introducing it to bigger audiences in the Art in Public Spaces at Nachbarschaftszentrum Brunnentreff along with works by Diana Sprenger, Susanne Meier zu Eissen-Rau, Janos Tarko, Julia Maier, Vedran Vrazalic and Fabrizio Tedeschi invited by us in support of non-conformist artistic positions within the possibilities at our disposal.
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