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Frankfurt Kunstverein Presents Experimenta FOLKLORE
Olaf Breuning, "The Band", 2007, Laminated C-Print on aluminium, 120 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

FRANKFURT.- The group exhibition “Experimenta FOLKLORE”, which is on show from the 12th December 2008 to the 1st March 2009 at the Frankfurt Kunstverein, concerns the phenomenon of folklore as a musical element within contemporary art production. The title of the project refers to the “Experimenta” series that was founded in Frankfurt in the 1970s and conceived as an international, experimental and boundary transcending theatre festival. It is considered to have been an important influence on the experimental music scene of that time.

As an idea, folklore not only includes a genre of popular music, but also all folk traditions – from rituals, folk dances and fairy-tales, through to arts and crafts or folk-styled clothing. Folklore can have both a mythical element as well as still contain the capacity to grapple with the worldly traditions of everyday life and the significance that advanced technology has in a post-modern world. The project aims to relate, in a humorous manner, an understanding of tradition and modernity through the particular installations and performances of various artists (- groups); incorporating self-built instruments and costumes. Further, the technical achievements that form part of the research of sound sources is not placed in the foreground, instead it is the investigation of musical anthologies and new forms of staging pop-cultural events, traditions, styles and myths.

Thus some of the artists’ projects that have been introduced in the exhibition will be questioning the importance that traditional customs, rhymes, rites and harmonies have in our highly technological age. It is both urban conditions as well as situations from the animal and plant world that are being focused on. Besides the work of artists such as Olaf Breuning or Jim Shaw, “Experimenta FOLKLORE” also presents numerous works of lesser-known younger artists, of which some of the works were produced especially for the project. The interplay that exists between the corresponding works allows the musical elements of folklore to function as an artistic language, illustrating ways to document everyday events, tell stories that originate on the periphery of society, decode social inequality or to overcome cultural borders.

One example, the Folk Archive (in 1999-2005) from Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, is a collection of contemporary folk art from Great Britain consisting of photographs and objects from carnival groups, pop fans, or transparencies of demonstrators. The archive presents an idea of the current situation of British folk art, in the light of present social, technical and cultural developments. In addition, it questions typical exhibition conventions. A work by the Californian artist Jim Shaw Thrift Store Paintings (1974-2004) operates, on the other hand, with the appropriation of widely differing perceptions of the environment through the presentation of a painting collection containing work by unknown artists and Sunday painters. The English artist group juneau/projects/ shows yet another approach again by making use of an amusing caricaturing manner when relating to forms of initiation rituals occurring in urban situations like the skateboard movement.

The Japanese artist Shimabuku, who lives and works in Berlin, investigates the interaction of tradition and modernity by musically overlaying early works with a particular form of Brazilian street music known as “repentistas” (a precursor of rap). His two-channel installation, Asking the Repentistas - Peneira & Sonhador - to remix my octopus works, originated in 2006 during the course of his stay in the Brazilian metropolis with a population of millions, São Paulo; in close cooperation with the street musicians Peneira and Sonhador. These two musicians interweave in their songs, which are structured by improvised rhymes, common cultural elements of Japan and Brazil: These were the experiences of the Japanese immigrant, artist and octopus fishermen Shimabuku with their unique stories from São Paulo from the point of view of the Brazilian inland migrants.

With his film Home 2 (2007), the Swiss artist Olaf Breuning presents us with persiflage referring to modern ethno tourism. He intervenes with bizarre self-ironic actions, for example, in indigenous ritual dances especially produced for “third world tourism”; thus staging the whole folkloric scene in an amusing fashion, ad absurdum.

“Experimenta FOLKLORE” presents works of Olaf Breuning, Sung Hyung Cho, Factotum, Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Uroš Djuric, Michael Dreher, Lilian Franck, Andy Holden, Honey-Suckle Company & Konrad Sprenger, Dani Jakob, juneau/projects/, Johanna Kandl/H. & J. Kandl, Kostüm Total (Alexander Györfi & Peter Holl), Thomas Kratz, Arto Lindsay, f.marquespenteado, Jonas Ohlsson, Marie-Clémence & Cesar Paes, Georges T. Paruvanani, Claus Richter, Duncan Ross, Jim Shaw, Shimabuku and Nicole Wermers.

The exhibition includes an extensive film program, which, besides a series of documentary films within the exhibition, also contains additional screenings of the film Rock My Religion (1982-84) by Dan Graham as well as the film De llama Lâmina (2004) by Matthew Barney.

Accompanying the exhibition a journal designed by Duncan Ross will be published, that was realised through the kind support of the Georg und Franziska Speyer'sche Hochschulstiftung.The exhibition was curated by Tobi Maier.

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