HOME SWEET HOME

September 12 to November 15, 2020

Trailer of the exhibition opening by Stefan Daub (duration: 01:00)

As part of the 11. Darmstadt Photography Days “Bizarre Escapes – Humour in photography”, the Kunstforum der TU Darmstadt shows its first outdoor photography exhibition HOME SWEET HOME. At six central locations in the city and in the Konsum Mathildenhöhe (Pützerstraße 6, 64283 Darmstadt) the Kunstforum der TU Darmstadt presents 90 photographic works by international artists and make them usable for art in public space for the first time in Germany.

In HOME SWEET HOME, the own home becomes an unconventional projection surface for different confrontations: with oneself, own past or origin – or with a partner. The cozy home serves as a refuge and protected space, in which – inspired by the imagination – bizarre escape opportunities arise.

Humour is not resigned; it is rebellious. It signifies not only the triumph of the ego but also of the pleasure principle, which is able here to assert itself against the unkindness of the real circumstances. (Sigmund Freud)

The exhibition, curated by Julia Reichelt (Head of the Kunstforum der TU Darmstadt), brings together international stars of the photo art scene such as Erwin Wurm and Ren Hang, the pioneers of staged photography Anna and Bernhard Blume. It shows the photographic works of AdeY, Pixy Liao, and Alexey Shlyk for the first time in Germany and to this extent the Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja.

With artworks by: AdeY, Katrin Binner, Anna & Bernhard Blume, Ren Hang, Andy Kassier, Pixy Liao, Alexey Shlyk, Iiu Susiraja, Erwin Wurm

Reviews

Exhibition locations

Konsum Mathildenhöhe

Due to the Covid-19 measures taken by the City of Darmstadt from October 24 and for the protection and safety of our visitors and employees, we would like to point out the obligation to wear surgical face mask on Friedensplatz, in Schlossgraben, as well as in the Konsum Mathildenhöhe. We ask you to keep the minimum distance of 1.5 meters, to take into account floor markings and to disinfect hands in the consumption Mathildenhöhe. People who feel sick must refrain from visiting our exhibition.

Participating artists

AdeY: “Portrait” (2016)

In his photographs, the former dancer and choreographer AdeY arranges his models sculpturally: often dressed only in sneakers, they are put into geometric groups, leaning together closely or stacked on top of each other. The civilizing scaffolding of our everyday life is visibly and humorously questioned as such. The Swedish-British artist combines his protagonists in the no-frills environment of a laundry room (Laundry Time, 2015) or places them on an empty shelf (Modern Living, 2017). He places them in stacked boxes, as in “Product Placement France (2018)”. An allusion to one of Will McBride's most famous photo series, the “Box Stories”. For his magazine Twen, McBride photographed the sixteen performers of the then Munich Hair Musical naked and staged them in eleven boxes – as a protest against the Vietnam War and as a plea for a free life in which everyone is allowed to show their nakedness differently, thoughtfully, bashfully, carefree.

The nude back act of the members of Kommune 1 by Thomas Hesterberg “Kommune I (1967)”, which has meanwhile also become a photo icon, is another motif that AdeY refers to in “Hangout Part IV (2017)”. This, too, is one of the most striking pictorial documents of the 1968 movement in Germany, and at the same time a symbolic image of the sexual revolution. The longing for the free society postulated at the time is also expressed in AdeY's “Accumulate (2017)”. Three women climbing on a tree in the backyard of a house naked – a contemporary “commune photo”? Other allusions in AdeY's works to artistic models are also revealing: “After you (2018)”, for example, recalls the performance „Imponderabilia (1977)“ by Ulay and Marina Abramovic, where museum visitors had to make their way past the two unclothed artists in order to enter the exhibition.

A humorous interpretation of the Darwinian theory of evolution can be found in “Evolution Part II (2018)”. AdeY counteracts the path to the “upright walk of man”, as postulated by Darwin, by the comical stringing together of crouched to standing people, the last of whom is upside down and not standing upright. AdeY's photographs avoid focusing on the individual. He does not show the faces of the participants and thus achieves a stronger identification with the viewers. The right to differences drives his pictures. Humorous and experimental, they visualize human vulnerability and loneliness, but also strengths. In “Devotion (2017)” the “home” has already collapsed and degenerated into a ruin. Two people cling to the last beam – what remains is the bond as the last straw in the middle of a collapsed world.

AdeY's works are politically motivated. They explore how society is defined, who we are and how we are perceived. The human being is fitted into external structures – whether it suits him or not. The sensitivity of unprotected skin contrasts the inhospitality of the civilized environment. Be it the laundry room with its cool tiles and the washing machine or the angular compartments of the prefabricated empty shelf. The vulnerable body is crammed into it and the feeling of being different is intensified. But fortunately there are still others to cuddle up to. A plea for tolerance.

The viewer first notices the side dishes: plump grapes and a cucumber, then the yellow glowing lemons, the sparkling gold tableware.

But the bad suspicion, that grandmother did not invite here for Sunday Dinner, is as visibly clear as the white ghost cloth. One wants to ignore this softly falling fabric. Or at least smooth it out as a blanket to bring order back to the table. Once you have exposed the ghost as a naked woman, wrapped in a thin plastic blanket, the view is spoiled.

Nothing that glitters here is gold: canteen dishes and paper plates, the fake gold cups: broken, the pineapple: inedible, the egg: as good as gone. Everything becomes a facade or foreground, ephemeral and fragile. In this photographic work, Katrin Binner plays off the classic genres of art history against each other. “Rückenakt” beats still life.

Anna und Bernhard Blume: “Ein Psychopathetischer Vorgang” (1985 – 1990) Bild: Anna und Bernhard Blume / VG Bildkunst

Anna and Bernhard Blume are among the pioneers of experimental photography. Far away from digital image processing and Photoshop, they bring themselves and various everyday objects into crazy situations and positions.

In their photographs, the domestic world is thrown out of joint: in the 1984 series “Im Wahn-zimmer” (In the Delusional Room), stable furniture is defying gravity and Anna Blume flies through the air with a vase. In “Küchenkoller (1986)” it's potatoes, juggled by an invisible hand, and in the midst of the potato dot chaos, a falling Anna Blume with a chair. In the image sequences of the series “Trautes Heim. A Psychopathic Process (1985/86)”, both the kitchen as the “the Housewife’s germ cell” and the living room become the scene of a playful dismantling of the petty bourgeois order.

In this “home away from home” nothing is safe and stable anymore. Something always happens, there is always a story and a transfer into the symbolic, a game with art history and a game with life itself. The “trautes Heim” becomes a field of experimentation for dealing with traditional roles and playing with art-historical currents such as the avant-garde and constructivism.

“But for the viewer, it is not the feeling of threat that predominates, but rather the desire for liberation. For over 30 years Anna and Bernhard Blume have been fighting with their drawings and photographs against the ”petrification of bodies, soul and spirit, forced and become by internalized circumstances". By giving the familiar things from our surroundings a life of their own, they show reality as a system of madness. Their photos parody our everyday life – and thus awaken the desire for chaos. (Martina Müller, WDR about the exhibition Anna & Bernhard Blume: Trautes Heim im Museum Ostwall, Dortmund, 2011)

Ren Hang (*1987 in Chang Chung, †2017 in Beijing) is one of China’s most prominent contemporary photographers. His analog photographs of friends, later fans as well, which he took mainly in the safety of his own four walls, are a homage to the freedom of naked bodies. “I rarely leave my house unless necessary. I don't wander around outside, I only go to my destination” he tells about himself in the short film “Getting close to Ren Hang”, in 2014.

Ren Hang's photographs are highly aesthetic and virtuously composed – but not euphemistic. They are undercooled and brutally direct – and feel like the scene in “Andalusian Dog (1929)” by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí when a razor is cut through the eye. Hang's visual universe is fed by this first great heyday of photographic art: Surrealism with its bold combinations of disparate elements and whimsical props. But he is also influenced by Bauhaus photography and its treatment of the human body. For example when he makes bodies lined up one behind the other look like a desert landscape.

Ren Hang's approach to the human body is experimental and surprising. Uncompromising yet intimate. Like Nobuyoshi Araki, he uses them to explore the existential themes of the human body: Life, love, pain and death. It is the man who fell down he portrays, even if he has bright red lips or is decorated with brightly colored accessories such as flowers or animals. For despite playful, colorful scenes of young and beautiful bodies, which seem to be equals, his pictures show human conditions, which are characterized by loneliness and vulnerability.

For this reason, Hang is also reminiscent of Francesca Woodman's black and white photographs and her examination of herself and her body. Her self-portraits “Some disordered interior”, published in 1981 shortly before her suicide at the age of 22, are reflected in motifs by Ren Hang. In his work too, attributes appear like a suitcase in which a female body disappears. Morbid and beguiling.

“Sometimes words can't leave my mouth But it's not because I have nothing to say Sometimes I can't go out But it's not because there are no more roads to wander Sometimes I just want to lie down quietly for a while.” (Ren Hang | I don't feel like talking | 10.01.2013)Source: Elena Rebaudengo, Yogurt Magazine in cooperation with Photography of China.

Andy Kassier: “Work Out” (2018)

In the midst of the current debates on gender and diversity, the conceptual artist Andy Kassier creates a typology of the representation of masculinity on the Internet. From dozens of self-portrayals in social media, he crystallizes how the “normal” man today prefers to be seen. Compared to earlier times, nothing has changed. It is still a patriarchal value system in which the man presents one thing above all else through his attributes: power. The credo “The world is subject to me” is taken over by Kassier and drives it ad absurdum in one of his early photographs: It shows the artist, dressed only in a fur coat, sitting high on a mountain top – in the background the view of the wide mountain world. The photographer knows how to achieve effects and advertise himself best. “I noticed early on that people on the Internet portray themselves completely differently than they really are, and I immediately tried to take this to the extreme.” (Andy Kassier)

In 2013 he created his alter ego, which is also called “Andy Kassier” but lives a fictitious luxury life. After all, where is power more readable today than on the insignia of success? This other Andy Kassier is a well-dressed, highly motivated businessman, always busy living his best life. The figure of the Kassier is the personification of the false promise that money, power and carefreeness make available to everyone. He calls this art project, which he runs exclusively digitally on Instagram “success is just a smile away”. It is a persiflage on the heightened self-portrayal of men online, which he has been running on Instagram ever since and which he always fills with new posts: They show him riding a grey horse along perfect beaches, golf club in hand, sunbathing on expensive yachts and standing in front of luxurious limousines. Ironically he embodies the narratives of success and happiness in today's capitalist society.

Even your own home is robbed of its original meaning. No longer a place of retreat promising security, but a minimalistically reduced space without soul, reduced to a facade. Clean as a whistle, as if from a fine furniture catalog. The cashier has everything under control, nothing lies around or suggests real life. He stages himself in the swimming pool to fake a jet-set life that does not exist in reality.

Not only the world but also the body is subject to him, he signals the perfectly trained and immaculately attractive artist in work out. It is a slick beauty that is put on display here. The picture shows the figure of the Kassier doing morning sport. One arm is enough for the push-ups, he seems to succeed in everything. The pose is perfect – by looking in the mirror he notices it himself. Andy Kassier demonstrates how this virtual world lacks the essential. Real life makes itself felt through breaks, beauty only becomes beautiful through the imperfect. The break, the strange, gives the world true life. “Beauty is always bizarre”. (Charles Baudelaire, Curiosités esthétiques, 1855)

Pixy Liao: “Things We Talk About” (2013)

“As a woman who grew up in China, I was used to believe that I could only love someone who was older and more mature than me, who would take on the role of my protector and mentor. Then I met Moro, my current boyfriend. Since he was five years younger than me, I noticed how the whole concept of relationship changed, completely reversed. I became a more responsible and stronger person.

One of my male friends even questioned how I could choose a boyfriend the same way men choose their girlfriends. And I thought to myself ”Damn right. This is exactly what I do. And why not!“

I started experimenting with this relationship. Again and again I staged all kinds of situations for Moro and me, where we posed for shots. My photographs explore alternative possibilities of heterosexual relationship models. They question the norm of such relationships. What happens when man and woman exchange their gender roles and power relations?

Since my boyfriend is Japanese and I am Chinese, the project ”Experimental Relationship“ simultaneously describes a love and hate relationship. It is designed to last and grow with our actual relationship. However, the project never claims to be a documentation of our partnership.”

Alexey Shlyk: “The Vase” aus der Serie “The Appleseed Necklace” (2016)

In his most recent work “The Appleseed Necklace”, Alexey Shlyk processes memories of the once predominant DIY-culture in his home country, which developed in his early childhood. Inspired by the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the people living in conditions of constant scarcity, he discovers a certain beauty in it and re-stages everyday items of his home to illustrate post-Soviet society functions today.

Alexey Shlyk was born in Belarus in 1986, when the state was still part of the Soviet Union. The collapse of Soviet communism in 1991 is still one of the most significant and turbulent events in recent history, with shock waves felt around the world. The countries of the Ostblock went through a transition from communal to individualistic, market-economic thinking. Families were forced to be creative and responsible if they wanted to make ends meet and survive at all.

“The Appleseed Necklace” series is based on the childhood memories of Alexey Shlyk. In this work, small personal anecdotes become socio-historical investigations of human flexibility, creativity and survival instincts. A bicycle wheel becomes a chandelier, a broken vase is laboriously glued back together and a chicken coop is built out of old wood.

Shlyk carefully builds facsimiles from memories: So they are not the things themselves. These objects have passed through the complex filter of time that determines what is left and what is lost. In fact, his images are as subjective as photography itself, which chops and alters time while pretending to show reality.

Alexey Shlyk's photographic work simultaneously transports itself to the present and the past, forming an ode to the tiny acts that carry the weight of history.



Exhibited works


Paper Hat
Mainly used by constructors, it was a number one toy for the kids’ war games.

The Lamp
Based on the story that was told by a friend, this lamp is a reconstruction of the traditional wheel chandelier, which was destroyed during one of the crazy wedding parties that where held in the house.

Weight Lifter
Cheering up the people during one of the financial crisis Lukashenko (president at that time) stated: You don't have enough of money for the gym? Take the bricks, and exercise at home!

The Vase
I don't remember exactly who broke the vase, weather it was my brother or I. It took my grandmother almost a week to glue it together from the small pieces. At the moment it is still standing there, at my parent's house.

The Dress
Re-styling and re-shaping the clothes that were previously worn by the parents has been one of the few means to actually have a fashionable dress.

Medical Matches
Activated charcoal was used to treat food poisonings and prevent hangovers. An urgent measure was to swallow the burned matches. Be sure to discard the “heads”!

The Potato Picker
It is still quite normal in Belarus to send students to summer job of collecting potatoes on almost obligatory basis. My classmate came unprepared for that dusty work and the crafty tractor driver made the protective glasses out of the available material – a plastic bottle and a rubber string. This ability to make something vital out of nothing has really surprised me.

The Horse
It has been a great moment in my life to own that wooden horse that my father made. I have tried to carefully reconstruct it from my nostalgic feelings of that moment.

The Chair
Nothing was thrown away, even if there was no evident need to keep it at the moment. Later those still working pieces were used to repair another objects.

Umbrella
Inner bicycle tires were a kind of a treasure material. The thin and light rubber was used to fix various things – from umbrellas to inflatable boats.

Flower Pot
The similar flowerpots can be seen today in almost every city of the post-Soviet region. I don't have a clear explanation for those objects, but I guess that it was one of the means of recycling the material and at the same time the source of joy to the owners.

The Patchwork
Old clothes were never thrown away. They were recycled in any possible way –starting from the ropes that were used to support the tomatoes in the garden to the beautiful patchwork blankets and curtains.

Fishing Shrimp
One summer we went for a vacation to the seaside. At very moment when we came to the water my father saw that it was full of shrimp, and he ran to the apartment that we stayed at, and came back with a pillow cover. It was a delicious dinner that day!

Mayonnaise Hair Nest
Inspired by the rare western movies, high hairstyles became very popular. To obtain that look all different kinds of objects were hidden in the women's hair. Some people say that empty mayonnaise cans were the best.

The Chicken House
'Dachas' or the summer cottages are a specific cultural phenomenon for the post-Soviet region. Those tiny islands of freedom mostly feature constructions built out of the accessible material.

Moonshine
Home made alcohol at all times was an important product and in most of the cases it could even replace money. I think that pretty much every family was at different points making either house wine or ‘samogon’.

Baby Bed
My very first bed was made from chairs that were put together. I do not remember much of it except that I was trying to escape from that little cage.

Green Corner
Back in the days green corners could be found in schools, polyclinics or other institutions. Perhaps they were aimed to teach kids how to take care of nature but later some plants were replaced by the plastic ones.

Storage Car
As nothing could be thrown away in 90s, car was a great place to store material on the way to the summer cottage.

Iiu Susiraja: “Garden Party is Over” (2018)

In the exhibition “Trautes Heim”, the self-portraits of the Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja are the artistic answer to the “Selfies” by Andy Kassier. The contrast could not be greater. In contrast to the immaculate and perfectly simulated world of Andy Kassier, Susiraja undermines common ideals of beauty and surrounds herself with petty bourgeois ambience. But she doesn’t pretend to be something, she does not gloss over anything. She takes what is there and drives it ad absurdum. This is where her artistic effect and power unfolds. Like Kassier, she herself is the creative works basis, her productions are perfect down to the smallest detail. However, she does not use palm trees or luxury yachts as insignia of power, but chain saws, balloons or roasted chicken. Her power is to be as she is. And she demonstrates this in dealing with everyday accessories in absurdly staged poses. “I myself appear in my pictures. That's practical, because I'm always available and can submit myself to all kinds of things,” she says about her artistic approach. And this goes far beyond categories of male or female, even if she explicitly refers to interpersonal relationships with titles like “Happy bride”, “Fair play with ex” or “Goodbye playboy cover”. “Strangely enough, people think I want to criticise beauty ideals or address any social problems. But that is not my intention.”

Susiraja knows that a good comedian needs props. The objects themselves must have character. “It all starts with the object.” And she chooses them with determination at flea markets, second hand- or recycling stores. She is the mistress of her world and the things she takes pictures of. Fearless and sometimes brutal. She spits a raw chicken on a chainsaw and presents herself in “Lovely wife (2018)”. With a lawn mower she is about to “mow” the tea set in “Garden party is over (2018)”, or separates soccer and rubber duck in two exactly equal halves in „Fair play with ex (2019)“. With her procedure she alludes to the “One Minute Sculptures” by Erwin Wurm, but goes further in her stagings. What is decisive is the direct eye contact she demands while posing with accessories such as an umbrella, high-heels, scissors, pillows, cakes, and fish. And this look is ambiguous, difficult to classify. Loneliness resonates, because she is always alone with all these objects. The place in the bed next to her is empty or occupied by a roast chicken on a silver platter (Dinner, 2017). In “Flirting with toilet seat cover (2018)”, she flirts between lampshade and houseplant, a turquoise toilet seat over her head, not with a person, with a toilet seat cover. That could be clown-esque, if it didn't have something bitter. But the drastic comedy prevents the maudlin. It is what it is. Not the person who deludes himself, but the one who takes on how he is and thus anarchically plays a joke on himself. Therein lies their strength.

“Humor is not resigned, it is defiant, it signifies not only the triumph of the ego, but also that of the pleasure principle, which is able to assert itself here against the disfavor of real conditions”. (Sigmund Freud).

Erwin Wurm: “Das ist falsch” (2018)

“Can the concept of ridiculousness be a sculpture? Can the concept of embarrassment be a sculpture? I've been thinking about that for years.”. (Erwin Wurm)

In his symbolic and bizarre examination of everyday life, Erwin Wurm is one of the most successful artists of the present day. Along with the pioneers of experimental photography Anna and Bernhard Blume, Wurm is an important starting point within the exhibition “Trautes Heim”, using his wit to show “everyday life from a different perspective”. “Humor is a weapon of the soul in the fight for its self-preservation,” wrote psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

In his photo series Noodle Sculptures, created in 2016, he explores the question of whether cooked spaghetti can also become a sculptural object. “That's right.” is the title of the picture under the beige lamp shade decorated with a noodle, “that’s wrong.” under a dark lamp that is decorated in the same way. These arbitrary attributions have a moral characteristic that is questioned by the absurd motif.

With this unusual depiction of everyday life, Erwin Wurm targets the petty-bourgeois narrowness of consumer society. “I am a very political person,” he says in an interview. “But I am particularly interested in the paradoxical relationship between reality and image or idea of reality.

The body and physical experience are the focus of his exuberant work – for example when he recreates his parents' house with all its details, including interiors and inventory, and makes it accessible to the public. ”Narrow house (2010)“ makes the oppressive confinement of his parents' home physically tangible, compressed to a width of 1.1 meters. The ”Fat House““, which was built in 2003 and is also walk-in, becomes a symbol of a greasy affluent society and is repeatedly artistically tackled by Wurm. A suburban house with a gabled roof is coming apart at the seams, the walls have swollen. In the video it begins to speak like a living being and to question itself: ”Who am I actually? A hint that we should better pursue this existential question instead of whitewashing it with consumption?“ Asked about his art Wurm says: “My work is about the drama of the irrelevance of existence. Whether one approaches it through philosophy or through a diet, in the end one always gets the short end of the stick.”