The first column*
Minorities, outsiders, troublemakers and other human beings

Art is more important than one thinks and art is less important than one thinks. Primarily important is the tension. As the new artistic director of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum I aim at perceiving and designing the spaces in between the one and the other. One tension already hides in the unique architecture of the Museum Fridericianum, another – and this is even more substantial - in the actual conception of art and culture, and their inherent nature of difference.

Not as program filler in between documenta exhibitions, but as a serious and distinguished formulation of utmost ambition, the Kunsthalle prepares for a restart. As from the fifth of September the neoclassical facade of the oldest public museum on the European continent will regain its function as a mock-up for contemporary and sometimes future-oriented contents, like it happened before during the eras of my predecessors Veit Loers and René Block and during the past twelve documenta exhibitions. This energetic tension between the outside and the inside of this building of 1779 bears at the same time the rare chance to be unique and distinctive.

The Kunsthalle Fridericianum will be presenting art that strives to be ambitious and committed. It shall be human with a spark of grandeur here and there, a pleading for the preconditions of humanity in the 21st century, yet to be defined. This sounds profoundly and then again not, because in its essence it is very common. Artistic positions shall come to the fore, grand gestures, a reflection on the performative and its reassessment and most of all more than just a bit of world. Besides that also art which provocatively celebrates a formalisation in terms of a metaphorical implementation of the artistic existence; less works which seem to be only interested in their own formal practice, but art which strongly believes in its communicative capabilities to speak a human language. Very often this language will be rough, here and there bohemian and sometimes even minimalist, but it always will be somewhat loud, so that it can be heard. The art we aim to present shall believe in the quality of its communicative potential. Though: art which believes? Of course art may also doubt. Important is that an artwork is well-founded and human, yes, maybe even superhuman – and like already mentioned – sometimes a little sublime.

Art does not have to be friendly and shall not at all be comfortable. A Kunsthalle namely is still a place where fragile truths, delicate suggestions and energetically charged provocations meet and converge and where the unconventional finds shelter. It will be quite hard to find luck and happiness in such a space. More likely we will spot abysses and dark profundities in the Fridericianum – or other parallel worlds and not quite tangible domains. Good art is beautiful and yet not beautiful, but always efficacious. Good art quite often has provocative and revolutionary qualities; good art can also be maladjusted.

Art is more important than one thinks, because it reaches far more than one can tell at first sight and art is less important than one thinks, because it is in the end only human and therefore not necessarily extraordinary. Our program will focus on these principles starting with Christoph Büchel who will totally reconstruct the interior of the Fridericianum in September followed by the existential metaphors, symbols and signs of Klara Lidén, Cyprien Gaillard and Marc Bijl in December and, and, and ….  The Kunsthalle Fridericianum will first of all be a place for artistic attitudes.

Rein Wolfs
April 2008

* At irregular intervals the Kunsthalle Fridericianum is publishing a web column. This first column was written by the new artistic director Rein Wolfs.

Rein Wolfs with Andro Wekua 'Wait to Wait', 2007
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen

Rein Wolfs

Since January 2008 Rein Wolfs is the Artistic Director of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum. From 2002 until 2007 he was the Director of Exhibitions of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In 2003 he curated the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennial. From 1996 until 2001 he was the first director of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich.

Among his most important exhibitions were shows with Douglas Gordon, Maurizio Cattelan, Angela Bulloch and Cady Noland at Migros Museum and retrospective exhibitions with Bas Jan Ader and Rirkrit Tiravanija as well as large shows with Urs Fischer and Erik van Lieshout at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. At Kunsthalle Fridericianum he curated major exhibitions with Christoph Büchel, Pawel Althamer, Teresa Margolles, Thomas Zipp, Monica Bonvicini and Danh Vo and shows with Klara Lidén, Latifa Echakhch, Cyprien Gaillard, Nina Canell and Navid Nuur among others. For 2012 he is preparing an exhibition with the title 'The New Public' for Museion in Bolzano.


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