POWER TO THE PEOPLE. POLITICAL ART NOW

March 21 – May 27, 2018

The Schirn is presenting an extensive exhibition on the political art of the present day. Based on a wide variety of different media, such as installations, photography, drawing, painting, and film, Power to the People: Political Art Now takes stock of contemporary positions that can be read as seismographs of political activity.
Democracy appears to be in crisis, the era of post-democracy has already dawned. The symptoms are manifold: populist leaders, fake news, autocratic backlash, totalitarian propaganda, and neoliberalism. For some time, however, society has also been experiencing the path of the art’s return to the political—a re-politicization is palpable. Images of demonstrations in the media have shaped public perception in recent years: waving flags, posters, or banners on streets and squares, at the Women’s March, in anti-Brexit campaigns, or in Occupy actions. There have been renewed waves of protest relating to very diverse contexts, countries, and political systems. This has affected artists as well. They create works that they regard as instruments of critique and explicitly motivated by politics.

Andrea Bowers, Radical Feminist Pirate Ship Tree Sitting Platform, 2013, Installationsansicht "Power to the People. Politische Kunst jetzt", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, Foto: Norbert Miguletz

With works by Halil Altindere, Phyllida Barlow, Guillaume Bijl, Julius von Bismarck, Andrea Bowers, Osman Bozkurt, Tobias Donat, Sam Durant, Omer Fast, Mark Flood, Forensic Architecture, Dani Gal, Katie Holten, Adelita Husni-Bey, Hiwa K, Edgar Leciejewski, Jonathan Monk, Ahmet Öğüt, Ricarda Roggan, Marinella Senatore, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nasan Tur and Jens Ullrich

The exhibition Power to the People focuses on fundamental questions and examinations of the phenomena of and potential for political involvement. Stances are called into question, forms of protest depicted, and new stages of de-democratization considered. In doing so, the mechanisms and logic of political participation are addressed, even beyond concrete concerns. Through bringing together artistic positions from all manner of countries—from Germany, England, Belgium, and the United States to Turkey, Israel, or Libya—it hence encourages reflection not least on what political participation can look like and the consequences it entails in each case.

Marinella Senatore, Protest Bike, 2018, Installationsansicht, © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, Foto: Norbert Miguletz

POWER TO THE PEOPLE. POLITICAL ART NOW

20.03.2018 | From March 21 to May 27, 2018, the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is presenting an extensive exhibition on the political art of the present day. Based on a wide variety of different media, such as installations, photography, drawing, painting, and film, Power to the People: Political Art Now takes stock of contemporary positions that can be read as seismographs of political acitivity. Democracy appears to be in crisis, the era of post-democracy has already dawned. The symptoms are manifold: populist leaders, fake news, autocratic backlash, totalitarian propaganda, and neoliberalism. For some time, however, society has also been experiencing the path of the art’s return to the political—a re-politicization is palpable. Images of demonstrations in the media have shaped public perception in recent years: waving flags, posters, or banners on streets and squares, at the Women’s March, in anti-Brexit campaigns, or in Occupy actions. There have been renewed waves of protest relating to very diverse contexts, countries, and political systems. This has affected artists as well. They create works that they regard as instruments of critique and explicitly motivated by politics. The exhibition Power to the People focuses on fundamental questions and examinations of the phenomena of and potential for political involvement. Stances are called into question, forms of protest depicted, and new stages of de-democratization considered. In doing so, the mechanisms and logic of political participation are addressed, even beyond concrete concerns. Through bringing together artistic positions from all manner of countries—from Germany, England, Belgium, and the United States to Turkey, Israel, or Libya—and hence encourages reflection not least on what political participation can look like and the consequences it entails in each case.

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Wallpanels of the exhibition "Power to the People. Political Art Now"

20.03.2018 | INTRODUCTION How political is art permitted to be? How political does art have to be? And how far may it diverge from the classic concept of art? How much democracy does a work of art tolerate? — These are fundamental questions that are asked time and again. However, depending on the particular society, the answers are very different. In fact, there is no art without society. Art always has a social component; it takes place in a context, in a specific period, and in a specific country. Involved in art are concrete persons who produce it, institutions in which it is presented, and finally viewers who do not stand in a vacuum. Art generally changes as well when social conditions change. A great deal has happened in recent years. On the one hand, we experienced (and are experiencing) a kind of bleak age, a neo-Biedermeier period in which withdrawing into the private sphere plays a major role. Some people are even speaking of an era of “post-democracy”. The symptoms: populist leaders, fake news, autocratic backlash, and totalitarian propaganda. Participation in political organizations is declining. Elections are no longer capable of mobilizing voters. Democracy’s loss of substance seems dramatic. At the same time, there have been a number of political eruptions: the Arab Spring, the anti-Brexit campaigns, the austerity debate that also mustered the »man on the street.« There was the global Occupy movement, the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. And there was also the enormous wave of anti-Trump demonstrations, Stuttgart 21, or the protests against the G20 summit. Artists are the seismographs of these political movements. In view of the current situation, they are under increasing pressure to raise objections. Hence in the world of art, in particular at various recent biennales, it has become apparent that a certain politicization has occurred—and is still occurring. And finally: Is it not the historical role of the avant-garde to be critical with respect to political power?

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Film of the exhibition

In addi­tion to the exhi­bi­tion exten­sive video content was produced. We are pleased to make this mate­rial avail­able to you free of charge for your current edito­rial reporting. We can also offer you compre­hen­sive footage mate­rial in HD quality for your own produc­tions. Please contact us with your request.

Julius von Bismarck, Image Fulgurator, 2009-2011 und Julius von Bismarck und Santiago Sierra, NO (Pope), 2011, Installationsansicht "Power to the People. Politische Kunst jetzt", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, Foto: Norbert Miguletz

Halil Altındere, Ballerinas and Police, 2017, Full HD Video, 9:38 Min., © the artist, Courtesy the artist and PİLOT Galeri, Istanbul

Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: 100banners2015, 2015, installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Guillaume Bijl, Voting Booth Museum, 2000, installation view "Power to the People. Political Art Now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Julius von Bismarck, Image Fulgurator, 2009-2011 und Julius von Bismarck und Santiago Sierra, NO (Pope), 2011, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Julius von Bismarck, Fuguration #5 (May Day Riot Police), 2009, Inkjet print, 50 x 75 cm, © the artist, Courtesy alexander levy, Berlin; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf

Andrea Bowers, Radical Feminist Pirate Ship Tree Sitting Platform, 2013, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art Now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Osman Bozkurt, Marks of Democracy / Portraits of the Voters, 2002, 10 C-prints, 60 x 40 cm each, Deutsche Bank Collection, © the artist

Tobias Donat, Agreement, 2018, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Tobias Donat, Agreement, 2018, Detail, "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Sam Durant, Let's Judge Ourselves as People, 2002, Vinyl text on electric sign, 175,3 x 124,5 x 23,4 cm, Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Sammlung Falckenberg, Photo: Egbert Haneke

Omer Fast, CNN Concatenated, 2002, Single Channel video, Color, sound (English), 18 Min. Loop, Courtesy gb agency, Paris

Mark Flood, 5000 Likes, 2015/16, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Dani Gal, The Record Archive, 2018, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Dani Gal, The Record Archive, 2018, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Katie Holten, She Persisted, Angela Davis, 2017, pencil on vat paper, 76,5 x 56,5 cm, © the artist, Courtesy VAN HORN, Dusseldorf, Photo: D. Steinfeld

Adelita Husni-Bey, The Sleepers, 2012, Oil on canvas, 165 x 350 cm, © the artist, Courtesy Galleria Laveronica, Modica

Edgar Leciejewski, A Circle Full of Ecstasy 2016, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art Now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Edgar Leciejewski, A Circle Full of Ecstasy (detail), 2016, 77 color photographies, each 45 cm x 33 cm, Courtesy the artist

Ricarda Roggan, Triptychon (Stuhl, Tisch und Stellwand), 2001, C - Print (detail), 100 x 125 cm, © the artist, Courtesy Galerie Eigen + Art Leipzig/Berlin

Marinella Senatore, Protest Bike, 2018, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2016 (freedom cannot be simulated, south china morning post, september 26-27-28-29-30), 2016 & Untitled 2016 (Form Follows Function or Vice Versa No. Two), 2016, Installation view "Power to the People. Political Art now", © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2018, photo: Norbert Miguletz

Jens Ullrich, Plakate 006, 2006/2018, print, dimensions variable, © the artist & VG-Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2018, Courtesy the artist and VAN HORN, Düsseldorf

Dr. Martina Weinhart, curator of the exhibition, © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, photo: Gaby Gerster

EXHIBITION NEWSPAPER

POLITICAL ART TODAY: ARTISTS’ VOICES BROUGHT TOGETHER IN ONE NEWSPAPER

Populist leaders, fake news and total­i­tarian propa­ganda: Democ­racy appears to be in crisis. At the same time, a notable re-politi­ciza­tion is taking hold. Artists too are now raising their voices and creating works they see as an objec­tion to the existing system, as a call to polit­ical action and as an instru­ment of crit­i­cism. In their videos, instal­la­tions, photographs, sculp­tures and paint­ings, they ques­tion polit­ical atti­tudes, analyze the discourse of power, and design imag­i­na­tive forms of a new protest culture. An exhi­bi­tion on polit­ical art needs a news­paper in which these voices can be raised: in the works of the artists, but like­wise in their state­ments and inter­views, which are avail­able to read here.