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“Matthias Berthold – ATMEN (BREATHING)” – Kunstforum der TU Darmstadt | 07.05.2022-30.10.2022

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Matthias Berthold (*1964 in Lübeck, lives and works in Hamburg) has dedicated himself to art in public spaces and art on buildings in numerous projects since 2005. One example of this is his “Wortfeld” (Word Field), the facade artwork consisting of a total of 39 connecting words, which was selected in 2018 as part of an art competition and implemented in 2019 at the energy centre of the TU Darmstadt on the Lichtwiese. Berthold, who studied ethnology and illustration, has been active as a visual artist since 1992.

Image Above: The fun that Matthias Berthold’s works exude already begins during the set-up. Picture: Ute Hochhuth

With Matthias Berthold BREATHING, the Kunstforum of the TU Darmstadt is once again artistically active in public urban space. The title BREATHING refers to one of his approximately forty “instructions for action” that can be found in the urban area within the action period. Matthias Berthold (*1964 in Lübeck, lives and works in Hamburg) has devoted himself to art in public space in numerous projects since 2005. Fundamental to his actions is an intensive preoccupation with the effect of language and the written word.

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Picture: Ute Hochhuth

The title BREATHING is paradoxical: asking someone to do something they do anyway. Thus, a sign decrees to concentrate purely on the essentials for once – to “breathe”. More than forty such “instructions” will be discovered in the city area. They are part of the art actions of the Hamburg artist Matthias Berthold. They invite you to experiment and gain experience, to discover free spaces.

Signs are omnipresent in public space with their requests or prohibitions. Berthold counters this in his instructions, which look like conventional street signs and which he has been developing for twenty years. They encourage self-experimentation and seemingly nonsensical action. The effectiveness and possibilities of words can also be found in his approximately ten-metre-high façade artwork of the new energy centre on the Lichtwiese in Darmstadt (“Wortfeld”, 2019). It consists of 39 relationship words that trigger associations when viewed without being able to make them tangible. They float on the surface, weightless, freed from their syntax. “They are the beginnings of meanings that ultimately remain open.” (Matthias Berthold). A game of searching for and finding meaning emerges. A second “word field”, or rather “letter field” will be found on one of the flags on the Old Main Building of the TU Darmstadt.

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Picture: Ute Hochhuth

Berthold’s texts also become concretely “manageable” through the fortune biscuits that are part of the art actions. They are “artwork” and advertisement at the same time. Inside these small crispy biscuits, familiar from Asian restaurants, is a small note, like a promise. Unlike the signs in public spaces, which are visible from afar and have a fixed location and a supposed authority, the fortune biscuits are small, personal surprises.

An extensive supporting programme is part of Matthias Berthold’s art actions, for example his experimental “Windwanderungen” (Wind Walks) or the participatory performance of the concerto “In C” by Terry Riley, a classic of minimal music based on a field of notes, a cooperation with the orchestra of the TU Darmstadt.

The exhibition Matthias Berthold BREATHING is the third artistic intervention of the TU Kunstforum in public space. For the first time, the Botanical Garden of the TU Darmstadt will be integrated alongside the city’s parks and green spaces.


64289 Darmstadt


Saturday, 7 May 2022 to Sunday, 30 October 2022

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