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Scheitern - So many ways to fail: Wagner and Partner shows group exhibition in Berlin
Installation view of Scheitern-So many awsy to fail at Wagner and Partner.
BERLIN.- Haven't we all failed at least once? Although painful, failure is quintessential and it is virtually impossible to journey through life without it. In fact to not play along with society’s norms and values these days will almost guarantee failure. Moreover, failure is affected by deeply personal views related to self-worth and is also synonymous with self-determined and yet unrealised aspirations. Although 'failing' is a daily occurrence, it is indeed still perceived as negative in western society where we are so geared towards success and efficiency: "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?" croons the American musician Beck.

But how is failure viewed in art? Is it even possible to fail? And isn't failure almost a prerequisite for the creative process? The exhibition, "Scheitern - so many ways to fail" examines this phenomenon. The artist Christoph Schlingensief summed up failure with his performance and political party “Chance 2000" and his election campaign slogan "Scheitern als Chance" (Failure as Opportunity) couldn’t be a better motto for this exhibition. The works on show explore not only how to accept failure as something essential, but also as a crucial and fruitful component of the artistic process. Diverse aspects of failure are investigated, together with those that illustrate positive outcomes and ultimately it is the breadth that is explored here, where mishaps, flops and blows are interpreted creatively, addressed humorously or transformed into liberating beginnings.

The advice? Forge on! This applies for example to Marcel Broodthaers whose film “La Pluie (Projet pour un texte)” shows him stoically writing a text while pouring rain washes it away, and yet the artist never gives up. Contrastingly, Anna and Bernhard Blume battle with the constructivist canon in the photographic series “de-konstruktiv” by literally arranging a broken Piet Mondrian. And in Miklos Gaál’s photograph it was the fence that was broken before some improvisation fixed it. In contrast, Eckart Hahn’s painting “Wallpaper” can be viewed referentially in relation to scientific hubris, despite the fact that scientific research with its constant experimentation is based on the principals of trials and failure. Likewise for Mike Kelley who regularly tackled failure–or rather the mixing of high and low-brow–uses children’s artwork to question the approach of art education as well as the therapeutic analysis of art made by children. On the other hand Claas Gutsche and Lars Ø Ramberg address the collapse of the GDR, or rather the fall of political systems. And in Natascha Stellmach’s “Letting Go” project, intimate, personal ‘failings’ become the literal foundation for self-awareness and transformation.

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