Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, Germany
“Germany is not an island” – this quotation is not attributed to anyone in particular, but, nonetheless, has been used many public figures in a variety of contexts. When applied to this exhibition, it seeks to centre the idea of Germany as a multi-cultural place, somewhere where everyone is welcome. And a place where all forms of the arts can develop in an interdisciplinary manner. Art often looks for confrontation with conventional viewpoints and ideas, opening up new spaces that challenge us to be more tolerant, accepting and open to reflection. Art does not need any kind of societal consensus or agreement in order to function, it is, above all, independent. Nonetheless, it is political and inherently fostering of society, especially when it invokes its independence and idiosyncracy. It is only in this manner that it can elicit discourse, provide fresh impetus and call attention to things or suggest contemplation.
The exhibition showcases a total of 150 selected works by 81 artists, whose work has been acquired by a committee of experts for the Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany over the last five years for approximately 1.7 million Euros. They focused primarily, amongst other things, on the question, “Which artworks make particular reference to our society, and can convey information, now and in the future, about the state of our present-day Germany?”
The decisive ideas and categories behind the conception of the exhibition included political and social significance, visual aesthetics and artistic considerations in respect of the media in question. The exhibition investigates what significance is accorded to formal and aesthetic deliberations, messages critical of the political and institutional, simple narratives and popular cultural stances within the context of conceptual art that is relevant to contemporary society. “Germany is not an island” accounts for the Federal Collection within the contemporary context, demonstrating how historic and current developments and tendencies, collective viewing habits and interrogations of visual structures are implemented artistically and as models for future practice.
The selection of works provides a good overview of contemporary artistic production, and makes clear that contemporary art forms embrace a broad palette of techniques and media – ranging from extensive installations to drawings, painting and sculpture, as well as photography, video and acoustic work. A look at the names of the artists exhibited demonstrates the multiple forms of contemporary art, springing as it does from a pluralism of cultures, world views, religions and lifestyles present within our German society.