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Room Service: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden exhibits the hotel in art and culture
William Eggleston, Untitled (Huntsville, Alabama), 1969/1970, Dye-transfer-print, © Eggleston Artistic Trust, Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York / Sammlung Museum Folkwang, Essen.

BADEN-BADEN.- The hotel holds a particular fascination as a topos in the history of art and culture — especially in the city Baden-Baden, a spa and cultural center that has been shaped by tourism. Its history is closely interwoven with that of its many visitors.

Numerous myths surround the hotel as a semi-public place. It serves as a mirror for motives of longing and as a backdrop for both highly intimate and politically weighty matters. Over the past two hundred years the topos of the hotel has increasingly evolved into a subject of art. Artists have not only engaged with the motif of the hotel, but they have also appropriated, transformed, and inhabited its spaces. With the Federal State Exhibition Baden-Württemberg the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden traces these multi-faceted relationships over time and also examines the social downsides of this phenomenon.

To capture the mythic dimensions of the hotel on-site, the exhibition Room Service — On the Hotel in the Arts and Artists in the Hotel at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden Baden is also accompanied by an exhibition route that leads through the city’s prominent hotels. Numerous artists are presenting works in hotel rooms, lobbies, and parking garages and have in some cases developed these projects specifically for the exhibition.

In the rooms of the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden the exhibition traces the historical development of a new culture of travel from the 19th century to the present. The earliest work on view dates from 1824. A painting by the British artist John Constable, it shows a beach scene with a fishing boat and the first grand hotels of Brighton, England in the background. During his travels the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner used the interior of hotel rooms as well as views from hotel rooms as recurring motifs. Max Beckmann was fascinated by the various realities and perspectives that came together in the hotel. In contrast, his contemporary George Grosz concentrated on figures from the demimonde of major urban centers, whom he portrayed before the pulsing backdrop of the hotel. With his iconic portraits the photographer August Sander created an epochal panoramic view of the German society of his time. Here, one finds images of a hotel director next to those of a chambermaid and a porter. The widely traveled artist Martin Kippenberger ultimately made drawings on hotel stationary his hallmark, producing a kind of fictive auto-geography. For her work »L’Hôtel« the French artist Sophie Calle assumed the role of a chambermaid, spying on the guests of a Venetian hotel for three weeks.

Numerous site-specific and performance-based works are on view in conjunction with the exhibition walking tour through various Baden-Baden hotels. In a room of the Steigenberger Europäischer Hof the performance artist Ann Liv Young offers individual, free therapeutic treatments. In her role as Sherry, a woman from the southern U. S., she provides half-hour »Sherapy« sessions for individuals, couples, or pets. On an audio-guided walk created by the media art and performance collective LIGNA, visitors may wander through the hotel corridors while searching for traces of the stories that the hotel holds. In addition, the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist recreates a version of his legendary hotel exhibition from 1993, in which he installed an unannounced exhibition with 70 well-known artists in his 12-square-meter hotel room. For the new installation in Baden-Baden he has invited artists such as Tracey Emin, Rosemarie Trockel, and Franz Erhard Walther.

In the Belle Epoque Andy Warhol’s experimental film »The Chelsea Girls« serves as a commentary on the famously infamous Chelsea Hotel in New York, where artistic bohemians of the sixties and seventies lived, worked, and exhibited. A visiting exhibition with selected works from the art collection of the Hotel Castell in Zuoz is on view at the Atlantic Parkhotel. In the fireplace room, a library and film lounge reflect on the diverse treatments of the hotel as a motif in literature and film. If you knock on a certain door of a room at this hotel, you will encounter a talkative individual, who is a brainchild of artist Christian Andersson.

In Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa the US artist Cindy Sherman presents a milieu study of individuals struggling for youthful beauty and social status. The hotel also offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend the night in rooms conceived by artists. As artist in residence at Brenners, Christian Jankowski invites visitors to enter the »Kleiner Entscheidungsraum« (small room for decision making), which offers a range of options, and make a personal selection. The empty white space can subsequently take any form — from the simplest standard to the most magnificent opulence. An artist’s edition is also included in a night’s stay. With his performative installation »Brenners Eine-Stunde-Hotel & Service Total« (Brenners One-Hour-Hotel & Service Total) artist Naneci Yurdagül makes the experience of five-star hotel service available to guests within a condensed 60-minute period. Anyone can book and enjoy this offer in a double room for ½4 th of the price of an overnight stay.

Artist Gabriela Oberkofler, who grew up in a rural inn, and Hong Kong based artist Lee Kitt have each taken over a room in the Rathausglöckel, transforming these spaces into walk-in artworks, in which guests can spend the night and also receive an artist’s edition as a souvenir. All rooms can be visited during the opening hours of the exhibition, unless occupied.

At the Radisson Blu Badischer Hof, the Theater Baden-Baden will take up residence for a number of evenings, explaining some of the secrets hidden behind closed doors with a production based on Markus Orth’s »Das Zimmermädchen« (The Chambermaid) and debating wellness strategies at the bar with »Max im Hotel.«

To conclude the exhibition, Byung Chul Kim will present an unconventional kind of lodging culture with his Performance Hotel. Instead of paying for a stay with money, one pays with a performance. Performances will be presented to interested audiences on a daily basis, beginning at 6:00 pm.

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