The Telegraph
Saturday , February 4 , 2017

Art that transcends borders

Curator Ursula Zeller with (left) Goethe Institut director Friso Maecker at National Library, the venue of the exhibition, on Friday. Picture by Rashbehari Das

Feb. 3: At a time when countries are looking inwards and building walls, Artspace Germany: Revisited represents the transnational art scene that flourished in post-war Germany, thanks to an "open cultural policy".

The works of artists of different nationalities who have lived and worked in Germany will be on show at the National Library, the venue of the exhibition of the Institute for Cultural Relations, Germany, presented by Goethe Institut Calcutta, and a part of CIMA Awards, The Kolkata Art Festival 2017, in collaboration with the ministry of culture, from Saturday to March 5.

"Globally, when the discussion is 'us versus them', this exhibition shows a contrary German policy under which artists not born in Germany, thrive, work and teach there," said Friso Maecker, director, Goethe Institut, Calcutta.

Dutch artist Armando, a Jew whose family was killed by the Nazis, travelled to Germany in 1979 and produced a sizeable body of work. "His work Flags in black and white reflects his family's sufferings," said curator Ursula Zeller, who walked Metro through the exhibition.

The exhibition also includes a work by another artist from The Netherlands, herman de vries. His Two Days under the Hawthorn Hedge is a piece of paper that he put under a bush. He then pasted the leaves that fell on the paper and framed it.

Tony Cragg, a British sculptor who teaches at Dusseldorf Academy, created Flotsam, experimenting with laminated plastic.

A series of photographs on the Atlantic Wall, a line of concrete bunkers that the German armed forces had built against the Allied invasion, is the work of Magdalena Jetelova from the Czech Republic. "The long exposures and twilight cast a misty veil and she uses quotations to project her perception," Zeller explained.

Your Time My World is a four-part photographic portrait of people taken by Marianne Eigenheer. It captures memories left on shelves or walls.

Joseph Kosuth, who came to Germany from the US, is an avant-garde conceptual artist who "uses a philosophical text and a photograph that shows what the mind is thinking of the text".

Italian ceramic artist Giuseppe Spagnulo works with coal to paint towers.

The shell of an ancient TV set with a burning candle within is Korean artist Nam June Paik's video/media art. His other exhibit, the Internet Dweller, includes surveillance and Polaroid cameras and laser-disc players that form a robot.

Danish artist Per Kirkeby's paintings can be viewed as landscapes but they can easily transcend into the abstract.

Christine Hill's set is as yet empty as visitors create the work. Viewers will be photographed on a Polaroid camera, a "counterpoint to today's selfie", as Zeller put it.

Candice Breitz's Factum series consists of interviews of identical twins.

The exhibition rounds up with Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen's Here and There that comprises 16 trapezoid metal bodies taken from differently coloured old cars.

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