EXHIBITION Jan 27 — Apr 13, 2017
As the gallery’s first exhibition in 2017 Kicken Berlin presents “German Bodies: Action, Performance, Staging (1970s/80s).” Works by Dieter Appelt, Anna and Bernhard Blume, Rudolf Bonvie, Jürgen Klauke, Floris Neusüss and Klaus Rinke from the 1970s and ’80s represent an important phase of performance art in Germany. Klaus Rinke, a painter and sculptor who studied at the Folkwang School in Essen, was the first German artist to stage his productions in time and space internationally (since the late 1960s), initially in actions revolving around water, and from 1970 with a focus on his own body. His “primary demonstrations” investigate the conditions of its own existence: Rinke presents the body as a sculpture in relation to interior or outdoor space (Boden, Wand, Raum, 1970; Museumstreppe: Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo, 1970; New Urban Landscapes, 1975) or performs the simplest gestures (Inhalation II, 1971) as “sculptural actions.” Cultural aspects of the outdoors can also be significant, like the forest in Eigentlich sollte ich Wotan heißen (1970). In the maquette for the piece Durchs Bildformat gehen (1972) collaged self-portraits call to mind the aesthetics of op art. In Maskulin-feminin. Ich, Du, Wir, Du, Ich (1972), the characteristic primary demonstrations series is expanded to include an examination of the discourse on gender and relationships, in collaboration with Monika Baumgartl. Jürgen Klauke visualizes similar topics, concepts of femininity and masculinity (Masculin-Feminin II, 1974) and their negotiability, and splits himself into two figures interacting in an affective, but also aggressive manner in the double exposures of the sequence Begegnung (1975). Concrete physical experience is not at the center of attention with Klauke, but instead questioning the rigid rules of social life, playing with self-staging, transvestism and transformation. They reveal the flexible character of terms such as subject, identity, gender and body. Rudolf Bonvie reduces the human body to its allegorical function. On the one hand, in the serial details of bodies in Zu Femmes damnées (1974), the sculptural character of arm and hand gestures appear as a typological study or experimental setup. But the spontaneousness of the process is reflected in the use of Polaroid film. On another level the reference to Charles Baudelaire’s poem “Femmes damnées” from the volume Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) finds expression. Dialog I (1973) between two persons, female and male, is likewise reduced to the highly simplified form of two hands. They search for and find each other as symbols—pars pro toto—of an encounter, the character of which remains undecided. The absurdity of social conventions and the unleashing of secret forces hidden behind them are revealed in the enactments of Ödipale Komplikationen (1977-78) by Anna and Bernhard Blume in a five-part sequence of intimate small-scale pictures. The Blumes’ staged scenes are motivated by philosophical and psychoanalytical considerations, literally making the only seemingly ordered circumstances of the everyday world dance —with irony, lightness and dynamism. A piece by Floris Neusüss also addresses the notion of lightness and flying: His Flugdrachen (1977), featuring a photogram of his own body is both an artefact of a performative action as well as an experimental picture (itself the result of an active creative process). The latter unites the immediacy of the body’s trace in the photogram with the lightness and transparency of the photograph. As an artist and university professor, Floris Neusüss, who turns 80 this March, made an outstanding contribution to rethinking the aesthetics of experimental photography. Dieter Appelt in turn exposes himself to precisely defined situations, which serve both to expand consciousness and as a precisely calculated visualization. The seven-part sequence from Tableau Oppedette (1980) shows the figure of the artist in different constellations at a location with objects and devices that can be interpreted mythologically as well as in the context of a ritual of self-exploration. Photography makes it possible to objectify the body and display it within an environment. Beyond the mere documentation of an action, photography thus achieves a consciously designed visualization: the action becomes a multipartite image.