Astrid S. Klein: ›disparaître dans la nature‹ – to decamp, to desert, to evaporate, das Weite suchen, verduften

Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany
11 Jul 2015 - 06 Sep 2015

Astrid S. Klein: ›disparaître dans la nature‹ – to decamp, to desert, to evaporate, das Weite suchen, verduften

Astrid S. Klein, Powder of Rainforest Giants, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

The Heidelberger Kunstverein presents the first comprehensive solo exhibition by Astrid S. Klein, offering insight into the diversity and breadth of her poetical-critical research, reflection, and action over the past ten years.

Klein’s transdisciplinary artistic practice involves film, text, sound, performative interventions, and public events. The exhibition highlights the artist’s unique dialogical approach in investigating relations between the Global South and North. The multilingual title of the exhibition signifies different forms of flight, disappearance, and transformation. A desire, a necessity, an act of living creatures aimed toward survival?

Moving into other spaces and transforming: Astrid S. Klein has been initiating artistic dialogues for ten years. She explores, through informative and poetic research, the relations between the West and the non-Western world—the violent history linking them together and their social realities.

Describing the process of her own “creolization”—an identity in flux—she questions the meaning of her West German, European heritage in the face of flowing, circulating identities. Essential and unique to her artistic practice are formats of dialogue, through which she engages in polyphonic, multilingual productions of knowledge with her counterparts from Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and their diaspora. The works deal with their complex mutual history and a present able to embrace possible collaborative forms of agency.

Accelerated transformations like migration, shifting provenance, histories, and localisations—going hand in hand with the radical transformation of social and ecological environments, capitalism, and the digitalization of all lifeworlds—are impelling both society and individuals into a world of flight. How can an artist make a difference here?

Astrid S. Klein seeks out cultural producers from real and imaginary transnational places, inviting them to engage with her in a performative process of negotiation. Learning situations, the experience of displacement and encounter, the related surprises and misunderstandings all help the artist become oriented within the current age of global transformation, while navigating this realm via shared reflection.

At the Heidelberger Kunstverein, Astrid S. Klein allows a narrative to unfold in five “volumes” and the related live formats of her Quartier Flottant. Each “volume” gives a glimpse of a thematic complex in which individual works have been created and are currently negotiated.

In Volume 1, Briller et s’envoler – Glänzen, Aufsteigen und Davonfliegen Klein offers insight into her early artistic explorations of 2005. Here, she associates her “performance” as a white artist in Paris and Kinshasa, DRC, with investigations involving self-staging and visibility in postcolonial societies, as adventurously arise in the urban cultures of the Congolese SAPE and the Ivorian Coupé Décaler.

Volume 2, Violente Question gives voice to the generation of Sub-Saharan independence through the words of Soulimane Coulibaly, aka Solo Soro, and Wêrewêre-Likings. The artist intermeshes gentrification in Paris, the former ville mère of the colonies, and the presence and past of colonial ideologies in European society.

Volume 3, We bow in empty LIBERTÉ is a quest for a place for the imaginary in a society permeated by global economies and unemployment. Citing the disappearance of cinema as a public place characteristic of the independence period, Klein poses the question: Where and how does the young urban generation in Sub-Sahara Africa express their desire for change?

Volume 4, Power of Plants questions the global circulation of tropical plants as raw material associated with colonialism. The Cola acuminata, a living cola plant, will be a guest at the exhibition and represent the diasporic tropical plants in European botanical gardens. The culture and the social, reconciling use of the cola plant play an important role in Sub-Saharan Africa. Can they inspire new transcontinental communication without being exotically or ethnologically interpreted?

Volume X, Quartier Flottant designates a neighborhood that, since not predetermined, is floating in space. As event format, Astrid S. Klein invites guests to participate in projects and entretiens or conversations. Here, the physical encounters are linked to digital space, such as on the online platform

Invited by Susanne Weiß disparaître dans la nature is part of the Kunstverein’s series “solo exhibition: not alone.”

The exhibition is supported by Baden-Württemberg Stiftung and Stiftung Kunstfonds.



11 July, 7pm Conversations

Astrid S. Klein in conversation with Sylvie Arnaud (author, France/Martinque), Soulimane Coulibaly, aka Soro Solo (music journalist, Ivory Coast/France), Emkal Eyongakpa (artist, Cameroon/Khaliland), Francois Taillade (curator, France)

30 July, 5:45pm Artist talk: The project Crossing Boundaries of Doubt

Isabel Ching (researcher, University of Heidelberg, Germany) in conversation with Astrid S. Klein

Lecture: “The Palaver/La Palabre—A model for other solutions in transcontinental conflicts?”

Lecture by Jean Godefroy Bidima (philosopher, Cameroon/USA) at artes liberales – universitas, Heidelberg, Germany

4 September, 7pm Screening: City Songs, ebbs and flows of urban imaginary (Duala, 2012)

Artist talk: Susanne Weiß (director, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany), Nadine Siegert (deputy director at Iwalewa Haus, Germany) in conversation with Astrid S. Klein


Heidelberger Kunstverein
Hauptstr. 97
69117 Heidelberg



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