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Environments, installations and narrative spaces exhibited at Hamburger Bahnhof
Bruce Nauman: Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care, 1984 (2010 realisiert). Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. 2008 Schenkung der Friedrich Christian Flick Collection | Foto: © bpk / Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, SMB, Schenkung der Friedrich Christian Flick Collection / Roman März und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

BERLIN.- The exhibition “moving is in every direction. Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces” traces the history of installation art from the 1960s until today, with a focus on narrative structures. Within the exhibition space of approximately 3,500 square meters, installations by the following artists are shown: Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Peter Fischli/David Weiss, Isa Genzken/Wolfgang Tillmans, Ilya Kabakov, Bruce Nauman, Susan Philipsz, Pipilotti Rist, Bunny Rogers, Gregor Schneider, Thomas Schütte, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Wolf Vostell and more. This is the first large-scale exhibition on this topic in Germany.

As the visitors move through the exhibition, they explore expansive walk-in environments, video and sound installations, as well as cross-media works developed especially for the exhibition. As the exhibition title suggests, Gertrude Stein’s concept of the non-linear narrative structure serves as a starting point for exploring sculptural arrangements, image sequences, or spatially staged narratives. In her lectures from 1934/1935 in Chicago, Stein stated: “there is at present not a sense of anything being successively happening, moving is in every direction beginning and ending is not really exciting, anything is anything, anything is happening and anybody can know anything at any time“.

The exhibition moves historically from the ‘environments’ introduced by Allan Kaprow in 1958, through Dan Flavin’s ‘situations’ or Wolf Vostell’s ‘spaces’ of the 1960s and 1970s, up to the ‘installation art’ established in the 1980s. Since then, ‘installation’ stands for artworks dealing with the entire room—where the youngest generation of artists naturally connect the physical and the virtual space. As ‘narrative spaces,’ the current installations present themselves as ideas for our societal, collective life. What Allan Kaprow said about his “Environments” from 1958 can still be thought of as the defining feature of installation art: „Environments must be walked into“.

In the exhibition, the spatial works are not organized chronologically. Rather, they are grouped according to their possible connections. Different compositional elements invite the visitors, above all, to develop their own links between the spatial and the narrative reference points. The narrative motifs, which are invoked in the exhibition, include the domestic environment, as well as urban and social fabrics. Historical controversies occur alongside imaginary narratives; the well-known doppelgänger motif emerges in addition to figures from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales.

“moving is in every direction. Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces” also raises the question of how to exhibit installation art in the museum context. Environments and installations are usually created for a specific occasion, in a set place and time. Many works do not survive, or exist in the form of relicts or documentation. As such, artists develop specific museum versions later, such as Wolf Vostell’s “EL-EKTRONISCHER dé-coll/age HAPPENING RAUM E. d. H. R.“ (1968-1982)” or Joseph Beuys’ “Richtkräfte einer neuen Gesellschaft.” While Allan Kaprow has shown “reinventions” of his early Environments since the 1980s, Gregor Schneider, whose work on the ground floor’s west wing is made accessible again, insists on presenting original works and rejects reproductions. Meanwhile, Pipilotti Rist constantly shows her vid-eo work in new versions and productions. The audiovisual installation “Remake of the Weekend” in this exhibition is a completely different ver-sion from the one that was shown at the artist’s solo exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in 1998.The special challenge lies, then, in not only the complexity of the works and the variety of materials used, but also the implementation of new productions in close collaboration with artists and the preservation of installation art for museums and collections.

“moving is in every direction. Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces” shows works from the collection of the Nationalgalerie, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at Hamburger Bahnhof, the Marx Collection, the Haubrok Foundation, and selected loans. Besides the temporary exhibits, permanent installations by Dan Flavin, Joseph Beuys, Robert Kusmirowski, and Bruce Nauman are included in the exhibition.

A catalogue (ca. 96 pages) with installation views and texts about the exhibited works will be published in spring 2017.

Curated by Anna-Catharina Gebbers and Gabriele Knapstein.

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