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Social Roles that Artists Play Examined in Exhibition at Frankfurter Kunstverein
Marc Aschenbrenner, "Im Abri 3", 2008. C print 60 x 90 cm. Photo/Foto: Knut Klaßen. Courtesy: Galerie Olaf Stüber, Berlin.

FRANKFURT.- The exhibition “Notions of the Artist” at the Frankfurter Kunstverein explores the social roles that artists play within the public discourse. Whether the “artist” is seen as a freethinker or as an eccentric, as a genius or sceptic, as a teacher or as a mediator, as an inventor, entertainer, pop star or as an enterpriser, depends on each particular context and cultural milieu. Seven contemporary artistic positions bring to light socio-cultural expectations with which artists are confronted.

The object of projection, the “artist”, points in diverse directions that have, however, retained a common denominator: “art and those who produce it generally enjoy a special status”, explains Holger Kube Ventura, the Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein. “Thus the manifestations of freedom of the subject as seen in the activities of the artist, are considered to be a way in which society can test its capacity for tolerance and self-critique. At the same time, a long artistic tradition is revealed in which social spheres of action are embedded in artistic production.”

“Notions of the Artist” presents projects and works by Marc Aschenbrenner (born 1971), Wim Delvoye (born 1965), Stephan Dillemuth (born 1954), Michael Franz (born 1974), Paule Hammer (born 1975), Manuela Kasemir (born 1981) and Andreas Wegner (born 1958), which are intelligible within the context of role perceptions or that actually make such positions the focus of attention. They can partially be understood as contemporary variations of such readings and thereby open to being questioned. To some extent, they also frustrate in critical or ironic manner, the idea of what the artist supposedly is, as well as set an enquiry into motion pertaining to their potential for action and influence to take place within society.

The project “Le Grand Magasin” by Andreas Wegner, a store display with a department store character is exemplarily in the exhibition “Notions of the Artist” for a work in which the social sphere of activity has itself become the material for artistic production. The artist and author does not appear at all in his, for art contexts, unusual presentation involving cooperatively produced everyday items and thus places the definition of what constitutes art, radically to the test.

The works by Michael Franz also raise the question of authorship. One example is when he meticulously and diligently copies Jackson Pollock’s "Action Paintings" with a ballpoint pen. His interest is rooted in the desire for an analysis of the social concepts in artistic work and its related expectations. On the other hand, Stephan Dillemuth examines artist images in his installations, while taking cognisance of their respective historical and social backgrounds.

The work of the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye plays with the idea of the artist as an enterpriser operating on a worldwide scale. Provocative works involving tattooed people and pigs, or a machine made after the human digestive system, “Cloaca”, are examples in which Delvoye refers to the position of assessment mechanisms within the art system. Two “scale models” are on show at Frankfurter Kunstverein, serving as precisely authoritative objects of various product lines by Wim Delvoye. Here, a model of a Caterpillar and one of a Concrete Mixer, both milled from the steel, display fine Gothic ornamentation. Furthermore the exhibition presents warranted “shares” of Delvoye’s product lines. His entire art world is concentrated on the web site “Wim’s World” which will be also accessible online.

The performances and films by Marc Aschenbrenner as well as the black and white photographs by Manuela Kasemir, presents the artists as protagonists in their own works. While Aschenbrenner covers himself in rubber or plastic sheeting and then resists unknown forces, Kasemir questions her own position in the tension-filled area between past and present, by at first indiscernible interventions in her photographs.

For “Notions of the Artist”, the painter Paule Hammer will turn the large exhibition hall in the Frankfurter Kunstverein into a form of stage. Complex stories, narrated in the first person perspective, plumb the ways in which an artist perceives himself, the role awareness in society, as well as general questions concerning the place an individual holds in the world.

Frankfurter Kunstverein | Notions of the Artist | Marc Aschenbrenner | Wim Delvoye | Holger Kube Ventura |

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