Since 2020, the ifa-Galerien in Berlin and Stuttgart have been inviting contemporary artists to engage in dialogical encounters with individual artworks from the ifa collection. Out of the Box stands for this practice of re-evaluating individual works. For the exhibition Spheres of Interest, which will be shown in the Berlin gallery from 24 June – 18 September, curators Inka Gressel and Susanne Weiß have asked six artists based in Berlin to approach the nuances and layers of the ifa’s unusual collection of over 23,000 works in an open process. The historic idiosyncrasies and structures of the ifa art collection as well as its composition specifically via the partial preservation of the collection that once belonged to the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) Zentrum für Kunstausstellungen all become opportunities for a collaborative artistic-curatorial investigation.
Image above: Wolf-Rehfeldt, Spheres of Interest, 1975, Zincography, 21 × 29.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Chert Lüdde, Berlin
Spheres of Interest shows these artistic examinations together with 45 works from the ifa collection, which are now being unpacked after long tours with countless stops or have recently been restored. Some works are being shown for the very first time, for example the sculptures Mädchenkopf (Girl’s Head) (1963) and Otto Nagel (1970-71) by Wieland Förster, both of which the ifa inherited from the ZfK and are on permanent loan to the Berlinische Galerie. The exhibition title references the eponymous artwork by Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, a pioneer of the GDR’s Mail Art movement, who – unlike her husband Robert Rehfeldt – was not represented in the collection until now.
Isaac Chong Wai, Lizza May David, Wilhelm Klotzek, Ofri Lapid, Adrien Missika and Gitte Villesen interrogate the collection based on their own “Spheres of Interest”, searching for overlaps, parallels, and omissions. Their artistic interventions are not limited to the gallery space, rather, they go out into the public or travel to other destinations, much like the ifa itself.
Isaac Chong Wai (*1990) has developed a performance referencing the woodcut Die Mütter (The Mothers) (1922-23) by Käthe Kollwitz, which revolves around the representation of a collective body marked by experiences of war. He invites performers to sing mourning songs to open up the body of resistance and protection depicted by Kollwitz. Lizza May David’s (*1975) research is dedicated to representations of German migrant societies after the Second World War. In the process, she came upon Franz Klekawka’s “naïve paintings” from the 1970s. Working from Joseph Kosuth’s lexical pieces, which have spent the last 22 years travelling the world, Ofri Lapid (*1983) has created a “Language Tour” tracing their exhibition locations. Adrien Missika (*1981) will present MOTUS, a local pop-up touring exhibition, for which he developed a cargo bicycle that activates selected Fluxus works in public space.
Wilhelm Klotzek (*1980) has used elements of urban space to create a display that functions as a bridge between the different exhibits. His intervention integrates the gallery’s façade and includes pieces from the ZfK collection that have never before been exhibited. Klotzek has also chosen to show works by Wieland Förster and Carlfriedrich Claus, responding to these with an acoustic assemblage. Gitte Villesen (*1965) casts a feminist gaze upon the collection’s omissions, choosing works accordingly. She has also developed text and image tableaus that further address the directions of the collective research process undertaken by the artists and curators. This intensive collaboration brings together critical and humorous observations, comments, and inquiries. They touch on urgent moments in our present and highlight collective memories as well as new moments of action.
The intensive curatorial-artistic collaboration brings together critical and humorous reflections, comments and questions. They touch on urgent moments of our present, highlight collective memories and new moments of action.
Spheres of Interest after Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt
feature works from the ifa art collection by Joseph Beuys/Nicolás García Uriburu, John Cage, Carlfriedrich Claus, Wieland Förster, Zille Homma Hamid, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Hannah Höch, Franz Klekawka, Käthe Kollwitz, Joseph Kosuth, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Simone Nieweg, Robert Rehfeldt, Takako Saito, Eran Schaerf, Endre Tót, Rosemarie Trockel, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt
The exhibition is curated by Inka Gressel and Susanne Weiß.
Performances, artist talks, events and readings will be held throughout the exhibition.
Part 2: (29 September 2022 – 15 January 2023)
Part Two of the exhibition will centre individual research and contextualisations by Isaac Chong Wai, Lizza May David, Wilhelm Klotzek, Ofri Lapid, Adrien Missika and Gitte Villesen.
ifa’s art collection
For six decades, ifa has cultivated worldwide connections from Stuttgart through the exhibition medium. The works it has acquired since the 1970s from the domains of art and design comprise the cornerstone of this exceptional collection. In 1991, in the course of German Reunification, a part of the collection of East Germany’s Center for Art Exhibitions was merged with ifa’s West German art collection. The history of the ifa art collection is closely linked with the concept of ifa touring exhibitions. Curators are invited to develop monographic exhibitions that present remarkable artistic positions from Germany. Another focus lies on socially relevant exhibitions projects that reflect contemporary artistic tendencies and currents from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As touring exhibitions, these are shown at international museums and cultural institutions, but also outside major metropolises. Currently, artworks are on display in 20 different exhibitions around the world, which have also been co-creatively conceived since the 2010s. A number of other works in the collection are on loan to museums.
Out of the box
Since 2020, the ifa Galleries in Berlin and Stuttgart have been cultivating encounters of dialogue among individual artistic positions and international contemporary artists. Out of the Box adopts a practice of reexamining individual works, which become part of an artistic/curatorial revision. This began with the exhibition Time Goes By featuring Rebecca Horn and Antonio Paucar. In 2021, this first show was followed by A Natural Order of Things with Lothar Baumgarten and Gabriel Rossell Santillán at ifa Gallery Stuttgart and Notes of a Seeress, which featured works by Joseph Beuys in dialogue with Andrea Acosta, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, and Sara Ouhaddou at ifa Gallery Berlin.
ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen promotes a peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue and conference programmes, and it acts as a centre of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships. ifa is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.
Opening: Thursday, 23 June 2022, 6:00 pm
Performance Concert: 8:00 pm
MOTUS (Adrien Missika) feat. John Cage: Mozart Mix
Exhibition dates: Friday, 24 June – Sunday, 18 September 2022
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 2pm-6pm / Thursday 2pm-8pm
Special opening hours Berlin Art Week 2022
Mittwoch, 14. September, 2:00 – 10:00 pm
Donnerstag-Sonntag, 15-18 September 2022, 2:00 – 9:00 pm