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Faktor, Robakowski, Sandfort, Walther: Pioneers of the Social Media at the ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art
“Stride Plinthes and Stand Pieces” (Steel plates, 10 mm thick, 158 parts)
Documentation on use of the works. Sammlung Franz Erhard Walther Foundation. Courtesy Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris, and KOW, Berlin© VG Bild-Kunst 2012/ F. E. Walther photo: ONUK.

KARLSRUHE.- ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art opened three exhibitions on distinct artistic approaches the common features of which are difficult to discern. What does unite all three artists, however, is the influence that respective avant-gardist aspirations exerted on them during their time. Franz Erhard Walther, whose presentation has already been opened on the May 25, complements the sequence of these avant-gardist tendencies.

Ivan Faktor and Józef Robakowski count among the pioneers who took up the challenges of the new media technologies in the arts, and whose later transformation of such innovations was exemplary. Like the artists Zbigniew Rybczyński and Gábor Bódy before them whose work may be viewed till August 19 at the ZKM | Media Museum, Faktor and Robakowski represent formative advances within eastern Europe; a phenomenon hitherto associated with the West.

“In the previous century we became accustomed to the idea that the first techno-avant-garde originated in the work of Western European and North American artists. This notion is wrong. Almost all the foundations for the development of the electronic image and sound worlds were discovered and invented in the East.” (Siegfried Zielinski)

Bernhard Sandfort’s work is characterized by a unique tripartite structure. It was not only his drawing and painting work that was to make him one of the most influential artists of 20th century Europe, but no less the fact that he launched the so-called Produzentengalerie [Producer’s Gallery] in Germany. His virtual “Museum der Fragen” [Museum of Questions] (1977), still in operation today draws on a participative approach to the democratic idea of civic involvement. In this sense, Sandfort pursues what Walther had realized just a few years before him with his work entitled “Schreitbahnen” (1975/76): viewer and visitor participation.

“Sandfort not only opened up a new dialog on painting, but also with the visitor. His Produzentengalerie is the artistic inception of the pioneer in the age of the digital network: of the prosumers. Introducing his ‘used’ objects in 1968, Walther not only reintroduced sculpture, but also initiated the performative turn to the user – a material as well as social turning point.” (Peter Weibel)

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