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Exhibition view
On disappearance


Association apsolutno (YU)
Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil (F)
Maja Bajevic, Emanuel Licha (BiH/F/CAN)
Lutz Dammbeck (D)
Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Thomas Nordanstad (S)
Thomas Köner (D)
Christine Lemke (D)
Via Lewandowsky (D)
Alice Miceli (BR)
Aernout Mik (NL)
Multiplicity (IT)
Oliver Pietsch (D)
Birgit Schlieps (D)
Wolfgang Staehle (D / US)
ubermorgen (A/CH)
Ina Wudtke (D)

Inke Arns, Ute Vorkoeper, HMKV (eds.): vom Verschwinden / On Disappearance, Revolver: Frankfurt/M. 2005 (144 p., partly colours, ISBN 3-86588-173-4), www.revolver-books.de, PDF version (9 MB)

On Disappearance. Loss of World; Escaping the World

PHOENIX Halle | 08/27/2005 - 10/30/2005

Either human beings are affected by losses, or their own disappearance affects others. In the first case, sorrow and desperation reign. Elements of human culture become lost. While the moment of disappearing and the grief experienced can turn into a media spectacle tuned into by millions, the histories and their consequences, the daily dramas and subtle disappearances are given little attention by the media.

This applies to destruction and forced displacement as well as to the private tragedies and crises of individuals, commonplace in affluent societies. Artists, in particular, consider becoming or being invisible in media world. They seek for modes of (re)presentation to make experience of loss public, to address them, and finally, to salvage them - keeping them open - while turning towards the future.

Besides involuntary losses of world, many artists address various means of escaping the world, escaping from private or given circumstances. Tied to any retreat from the world is the expectation of finding, constructing or permanently setting up a new world, be it an exotic other (island), a utopia (outer space) or one radically constructed (cyberspace). Nevertheless, a lot of unexpected conflicts arise. The artists emphasise the aspects of withdrawal that thwart voluntaristic plans, and examine the dilemmas or the failure to escape the world.

However, the moment of disappearing may also shed new light on widespread beliefs, scientific metaphysics, compulsive normality or hidden potentials. As long as we avoid a radical view of that which has disappeared and the act of disappearance, neither clinging obsessively to loss nor idealising the act itself, we are then at the dawn of a turning point. Here, disappearing also implies an opening to that which is new, a space in which to meet other ways of thinking, as well as the unexpected - even if these considerations are initially tentative in probing biased notions, or even to become light-hearted in a way that was previously unthinkable.

Co-curators Inke Arns and Ute Vorkoeper have invited artists who deal with world withdrawal and world relinquishment, the disappearing of private, social and cultural identities, or of space for political action, and its causes and effects. The artworks focus on the ambiguity associated with any experience of disappearance, in which fading away and starting anew, loss and gain, are inextricably tied to each other. Whether unintended or intentional, disappearance suggests an imminent end, the breakdown of existing relationships, the collapse of contexts as well as new beginnings and the promise of a new future.

Rather, the elusive and ambivalent character of disappearance/loss allows for a dialogue on immensely diverse perspectives and on representations of such ostensibly disparate subjects as migration, forced displacement, terrorist undergrounds, self-abyss, losses of beliefs and autonomy, addiction and world withdrawal. How such implosions of the political are presented also provides a good reason to discuss anew the possibilities and chances for contemporary political and poetic visual arts. In order to provide the audience with a framework for a possible interpretation the works are grouped in four thematic zones: Anchorless; Annihilations; Leaps in Time; Terrain Vague.

Various phases and extents of escaping the world can be noted. The view of the blue planet from outer space has become a definitive worldview, and turned the earth into a station from which to make the leap into the universe. The end of the illusion, the return, often turns out to be fatal. Globalisation is collapsing back upon itself, absurd patterns recur in the stock markets worldwide. Even the trip or the flight into the imaginary can, in technically created worlds, leave individuals aimlessly adrift between ecstasy, utter horror, insanity or the golden shot that ends it all. What otherwise remains is the withdrawal into the private, into one’s own little “I” and total pop-conformity, which ostensibly determines individual styling and branding to even the smallest detail.

Destruction and death result from the violence that breaks into an existing world and order, be it in order to radically change them or to shake their political and social structures to their foundations. The withdrawal from a world that is perceived as false is professed to be a way to the true and good. The belief that one possesses the one truth lies at the root of all violence perpetrated with the aim of destroying people and world. To those who are the successors of the victims or of the perpetrators, the violence perpetrated and its effect have an ambivalence that is appalling.

Leaps of Time
Wars and conflicts over borders confound conventional processes. They interrupt order and make previously obvious conduct seem strange or absurd. Or different orders, which possess changing validity, limits and levels of tolerance for different people, overlap. A home is lost, appears fleetingly in memory of a new place, which is not a replacement but instead something very much different that home. Something has died without anyone burying it or being meant to bury it.

Terrain Vague
It has long been thought that the project of the modern, meaning its central utopia of freedom and autonomy that has been achieved through the ongoing advance of science and technology, has failed. The shadows of violence lie over radical, modern hopes of a good or equitable life. What remains are the ravages, the wreckage and the wastelands of hope. When observed in exploration or without reservations, they can be read as vague terrains in which something other, unknown, perhaps even better might be possible.

Participating artists:
Association apsolutno (YU) / Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil (F) / Maja Bajevic, Emanuel Licha (BiH/F/CAN) / Lutz Dammbeck (D) / Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Thomas Nordanstad (S) / Thomas Köner (D) / Christine Lemke (D) / Via Lewandowsky (D) / Alice Miceli (BR) / Aernout Mik (NL) / Multiplicity (IT) / Oliver Pietsch (D) / Birgit Schlieps (D) / Wolfgang Staehle (D / US) / ubermorgen (A/CH) / Ina Wudtke (D)

Curated by Inke Arns and Ute Vorkoeper

Hartware MedienKunstVerein
in PHOENIX Halle Dortmund
Hochofenstraße / corner Rombergstraße, Dortmund-Hörde

Opening hours
Wed 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thu - Sun 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Guided tours
Each Sunday at 4 p.m.
(Please indicate your interest in English spoken guided tours at least 1 week in advance!)

The catalogue will be published by Revolver - Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt/Main, in German and English (144 pages, ISBN 3-86588-173-4)

Events in PHOENIX Halle Dortmund

Opening August 26, 2005, 7 p.m.
Susanne Ackers, Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund
Welcoming Address:
Kurt Eichler, Leiter des Kulturbüros der Stadt Dortmund
Ute Vorkoeper, Hamburg
Thomas Köner

5. Dortmund Museum Night
24. September 2005
The exhibition at PHOENX Halle opens 11 am - 12pm

Refresh! The First International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology
Banff New Media Institute (CAN), September 29 – October 1, 2005
Live-streaming of the conference starting daily at 4:30 p.m.

Presentation of the catalogue
October 14, 2005

Terrain vague: Film program / Workshop / Symposium
14./15.Oktober 2005
in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Stiftung NRW
Program Details

Klangraum Phoenix 05: Festival for Electronic Music
October 21 - 22, 2005
organised by sternschaltung & klangkabel (Dortmund)

Supported by
Kunststiftung NRW
Der Ministerpräsident des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
NRW Kultursekretariat Wuppertal
Mondriaan Stichting

In cooperation with
Kulturbüro Stadt Dortmund
Heinrich Böll Stiftung NRW

Media Partner
taz nrw