The SCHIRN dedicates an exhibition to the fascination of espionage as source of current artistic inspiration


24 September 2020 until 10 January 2021

The SCHIRN is dedicating an international group exhibition to espionage with its power to fascinate, illuminating this theme as a current source of artistic inspiration. Although spies are presented as glamorous in popular culture, the information they obtain from covert campaigns is socially explosive. Espionage is linked to the unauthorized procurement of rare secrets or confidential information. While in the past national governments spied on individuals or states, in times of digital communication private individuals are now able to reveal hidden governmental secrets or whistleblowers can expose governments spying on their own citizens. This has created the perfect grounds for a renewed interest in the mechanisms of secrecy. The exhibition presents works from around 40 international artists, including Simon Denny, Thomas Demand, Stan Douglas, Dora García, Rodney Graham, Gabriel Lester, Jill Magid, Metahaven, Trevor Paglen, Cornelia Schleime, Noam Toran, Suzanne Treister, and Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas. About 70 paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, and installations address the topic from a contemporary perspective, with the works touching on aspects of espionage like surveillance, paranoia, conspiracy, threat, camouflage, cryptography, manipulation, or propaganda. On view are a multitude of artistic strategies and unexpected objects, exploring the “golden age” of espionage during the Cold War and in the context of media super-exposure.

The exhibition was initiated and conceived by Cristina Ricupero and Alexandra Midal.



Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Maja Bajevic, Jean-Luc Blanc, Nina Childress, Guy de Cointet, Thomas Demand, Simon Denny, Mauricio Dias & Walter Riedweg, Stan Douglas, Charles and Ray Eames, Forensic Architecture, Dora García, Rodney Graham, Eva Grubinger, Humans since 1982, Alfredo Jaar, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Gabriel Lester, Lim Minouk, Jonas Lund, Mathis Gasser, Dora Longo Bahia, Jill Magid, Fabian Marti, Josephine Meckseper, Mieko Meguro, Metahaven, Aleksandra Mir, Henrike Naumann, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Trevor Paglen, Park Chan-Kyong and Park Chan-Wook, Cornelia Schleime, Jim Shaw, Taryn Simon, Jonas Staal, Noam Toran, Suzanne Treister, Jane and Louise Wilson, Liam Young und Tamir Zadok.