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


Top Secret. Classified sensitive information. We have a new source on the ground. Embedded, undercover and portable. Eyes and ears. What started out as a fly on the wall became a bug on the floor. Welcome to a sealed reality that only comes to actual reality when observed. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Can something exist without being perceived by consciousness? We are tackling the problem. We are on it. Infiltrating it, blending in with the setting, as it were. Have you heard the secret services are now equipping insects with cameras and radio devices? Be careful what you squash! Fortunately, we are right up there with them. The race to empty space. Access restricted. Access restricted. Our intelligence program rolled out, literally sucking it all up. We’ll return your freedom, as you can roam where nobody can. Do take a ride on our surveillance agent and get your covert juices flowing.

In view of the pandemic, current lockdown and closing down of the exhibition artists Jonas Lund and Gabriel Lester further develop their viral interventions on the SCHIRN website with a special project called "The Bug on the Ground"


Information about the temporary closing

In order to slow down the further spread of the coronavirus, the SCHIRN is closed from November 2 2020 to January 31 2021 inclusive. All events are also cancelled during this period. We will continue to be there for you online with exciting articles on the SCHIRN MAG, new podcasts, video interviews, live tours and more. TIP! Why don't you register for the SCHIRN Newsletter right now?


The exhibition tickets remain valid for the entire duration of the exhibition. Tickets can be cancelled until the end of the exhibition, 10 January 2021.


Do you have tickets for a tour that has now been canceled? You can return them until the end of the exhibition. Thereafter the tickets expire. For this, please send the email address used to purchase the tickets with, your bank details and the transaction number to


If you have further questions, please contact us via


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.