Photo: Joseph Kosuth, “W.F.T. #3”, 2008. Courtesy Juana de Aizpuru Gallery, Madrid
Art&Idea is pleased to announce the opening of the group exhibition ‘Goethe Dialogues’ on the occasion of the reopening of the Goethe Institute in Barcelona on the 31st of October 2014 at 5pm in Calle Roger de Flor 224.
The international group exhibition takes place on three floors in the original Herder Building, just one block away from Gaudi´s Sagrada Familia cathedral. ‘Goethe Dialogues’ presents 27 artists from 10 different nations whose artistic practise refer to themes and issues that interested Goethe, from nature to love, Sturm and Drang, identity to politics as well as poetry and language.
Works by the following artist are being presented: Art&Language, Boris van Berkum, Iñaki Bonillas, Fernando Bryce, Hanne Darboven, Anna Dot, Harun Farocki, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Juan Fontcuberta, Alicia Framis, Rainer Ganahl, Jenny Holzer, Iwajla Klinke, Joseph Kosuth, Matias Krahn, Jochen Lempert, Jan Mech, Fabio de Minicis, Antoni Muntadas, Bruce Nauman, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Tony Oursler, Peter Piller, Proxi, Elisabeth von Samsonow and Oriol Vilanova. The exhibition is curated by Robert Punkenhofer.
Few poets have shaped Germany’s identity and also the perception of Germany as a literary and artistic place as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Even during his lifetime, and probably still today, the poet born in Frankfurt was considered one of the most important representatives of ‘the intellectual and literary Germany.’
The international group exhibition Goethe Dialogues, curated by Robert Punkenhofer and organized on the occasion of the reopening of the headquarters of the Goethe-Institut Barcelona, is devoted to a critical analysis of contemporary art and Goethe in the broadest sense. The aim is to reflect through the works of contemporary artists references to Goethe, to him, this ‘universal genius’ with its multiple interests, but also his influence on the evolution of language and communication. Although the exhibition focuses on art from Germany, there is also a bridge to international art, especially from Spain.
Goethe, who found inspiration for his works both in nature and in art, was deeply a child of his time. Impregnated by the early rationalism of Enlightenment, he shortly after became one of the pioneers of Sturm und Drang, the precursor of romanticism movement. Goethe was a ‘wild young man’ who revolutionized poetic language and was ready to exchange reason for emotions, the one who would encourage ‘strange voices’ rather than submit to the elite: a revolutionary that in retrospect probably would have been considered as rather ‘meek’. And yet, this revolutionary meekness fits in to our world ‘in flux’, in which the paradigms seem to fall overnight or are replaced quickly.
Nowadays, it also appears to exist a peculiar relevance of some ideas propulsioned by Sturm und Drang: rearing against authority and tradition against reason and common sense. There was a willingness to question all these ‘old values’, to finally reject them, in exchange for a greater humanity and emotion of creative genius. In the center of this change of course naturally were the verbal expressions. The Sturm und Drang language clearly differed from the Enlightenment. Half phrases, strong expressions and exclamations, in short, the voice of the people and youth, who were taken to the stage.
The concept of the exhibition Goethe Dialogues starts at the same point in which perhaps Johann Wolfgang von Goethe began: in the search for forms of expression capable of reflecting the present time, in language as key to observe the world and art as creator of identity. This approach, which characterized the art collective Art & Language in the sixties and seventies, played an important role in the development of conceptual art, which in turn contributed decisively to a ‘demystification’ of art, offering a new way for the contemplation of the world through art. The social and political analysis and activism, took on a new meaning in the artistic production. As in Sturm und Drang, social and political changes in the sixties and seventies demanded new ways to explain the world and, consequently, new forms of cultural expression. The Australian artist Ian Burn, Art & Language member until the mid 1970s, described the interaction between the world and culture as follows: „[…] our language screens the object; it is the grid which structures our perceiving. (Burn: Dialogue, S.121.)
Although the relationship between subject and language as crosslinker of our perception, as described by Burn, actually uses the rhetoric of the Enlightenment, the forms of linguistic expression of Sturm und Drang do inevitably recall elements of conceptual, language and performance art of the sixties. In recent years, moreover, these cultural currents have again become very important in the international art scene. In summary, one can say that writing has become, as from the classical avant-garde of the early twentieth century, an integral part of the work of many artists.
Goethe Dialogues presents itself as an international collective art exhibition whose central axis are the areas of language and communication. The selection of the curator is not limited to communication in the strictest sense, but also opens to the subject area, making room in the discourse of exposure to related topics such as ‘identity and language or ‘nature as language’.
The curatorial project infiltrates the entire new Goethe Institute building, including the fassade. The juxtaposition of paintings, videos, installations, performances and sound art will be presented, in order to create a space of confrontation, to try to live the “universal genius” that was Goethe.