After Wu Tsang in 2018, Otobong Nkanga continues the Artist in Residence programme throughout 2019 at Gropius Bau Berlin. Her performances, sculptures, drawings and installations are characterised by her commitment to comprehensively explore economic and ecological processes. Nkanga will continue her project Carved to Flow, initiated as part of documenta 14.
The 2019 programme sees the Gropius Bau bring together local and international artists who push forward some of the most important conversations of our time, opening our minds to new possibilities.
Start and end of the programme will be exhibitions that share a profound connection with the Gropius Bau’s heritage as an institution that is deeply rooted in the development of creativity in Berlin. With its position alongside the former Berlin Wall, the building has an important role to be a collective space of exchange for both artists and visitors. This year, the programme strives to break down the perceptions on subjects including identity, gender and the physical and psychological borders that have shaped our societies.
Alongside thought-provoking exhibitions, artist lectures and exciting evening events, 2019 will also see the Gropius Bau open up spatially, with innovative exhibition formats and interventions that foster a desire for discovery, encompassing the building as a whole. I look forward to sharing more details with you in the new year.
— Stephanie Rosenthal
The new year begins with a focus on the contemporary art scene in Berlin. The thematic framework for the group exhibition And Berlin Will Always Need You. Art, Craft and Concept Made in Berlin is the Gropius Bau itself, which opened in 1881 as the first Museum of Decorative Arts in Germany and established itself as a teaching, production and exhibition venue. Opening during the centenary of the Bauhaus, the exhibition invites over 20 Berlin- based artists such as Chiharu Shiota, Dorothy Iannone, Nevin Aladağ and Theo Eshetu to show existing and newly commissioned installations and works that engage with craftsmanship, décor, materiality and artefacts. The work provides insight into the craftsmanship and artistic techniques used within contemporary cycles of production, as well as into the construct of the institution as an exhibition house with its displays, interpretative sovereignty, and power structures.
This summer, the Garden of Earthly Delights will provide a space for inspiration and critical reflection. In this large-scale group exhibition, artists including Pipilotti Rist, Rashid Johnson, Maria Thereza Alves, Uriel Orlow, Jumana Manna, Taro Shinoda and Heather Phillipson interpret the motif of the garden as a metaphor for the state of the world and as a poetic expression to explore the complexities of our increasingly precarious world. Their artworks open a wider discourse on social, political and ecological phenomena, such as migration, gentrification and gender politics. In addition to this political reading the well-known reading of the garden as a place of yearning full of meditative, spiritual and philosophical possibilities, the exhibition featuring existing and newly commissioned works will tread the line between reality and fantasy, harmony and chaos, and a place of beauty and of exile.
The programme In House: Artist in Residence has been running since the beginning of 2018 and brings artists and their creative processes back to the Gropius Bau: following in line with the history of the building, the institution will once again become a place of artistic creation and production. Wu Tsang moved into the studio in February. Her work explores various states of connectedness and “in-between”-ness within society and with regard to personal identity. Often this fluidity manifests itself as collaboration, or in the merging of performance, moving image, sculpture, and installation – as seen with Untitled Lip Sync (for Ana Mendieta), a performance by boychild in front of a curtain specially designed by Wu Tsang, which was shown at the Gropius Bau in July of this year. A solo exhibition is planned following her residency.
Throughout 2019, the In House: Artist in Residence programme will be continued by Otobong Nkanga. Her performances, sculptures, drawings and installations are characterised by her commitment to comprehensively explore economic and ecological processes. Taking natural resources such as sand, minerals and oils as her starting point, she examines material, conceptual and historical structures. In addition to her studio at the Gropius Bau, in a ground floor gallery, Nkanga will continue her project Carved to Flow, initiated as part of documenta 14. In Carved to Flow black marbled soaps were produced in Athens, mixing together ingredients and traditions of various regions from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North and West Africa, and distributed in a second stage in Kassel. In Berlin the third phase, “Germination”, serves as a platform for research, public discussions and workshops.
The year concludes with the thematic exhibition Walking Through Walls, showcasing works by Jose Dávila, Mona Hatoum, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Christian Odzuck, Anri Sala, Regina Silveira, alongside many others to present a contemporary panorama of the artistic responses made on the detrimental effects of man-made barriers, divisions and walls. Acknowledging the location of the Gropius Bau alongside the former Berlin Wall, the exhibition offers a global perspective on the physical and psychological repercussions of coexisting in divided societies. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the exhibition is a timely exploration of how barriers can articulate feelings of vulnerability and anxiety and represent individual and collective identities.
And Berlin Will Always Need You. Art, Craft and Concept Made in Berlin
Curated by Natasha Ginwala, Julienne Lorz and Stephanie Rosenthal
Artists: Nevin Aladağ, Leonor Antunes, Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, Mariechen Danz, Haris Epaminonda, Theo Eshetu, Olaf Holzapfel, Dorothy Iannone, Antje Majewski and Olivier Guesselé-Garai, Willem de Rooij, Chiharu Shiota and others
Garden of Earthly Delights
Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal with Clara Meister
Artists: Maria Thereza Alves, Rashid Johnson, Jumana Manna, Uriel Orlow, Heather Phillipson, Pipilotti Rist, Taro Shinoda and others
Walking Through Walls
Curated by Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil
Artists: Jose Dávila, Mona Hatoum, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Christian Odzuck, Anri Sala, Regina Silveira and others
In House: Artist in Residence
Artist: Otobong Nkanga