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25 Feb 2010

Jochen Schmith at Kunstverein Braunschweig

Vague Memories, C-Print, 44 x 34 cm,
2010, (c) Jochen Schmith und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Jochen Schmith. Certain Arrangements
Kunstverein Braunschweig


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Sarah Frost
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Kunstverein Braunschweig
Lessingplatz 12
38100 Braunschweig

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Haus Salve Hospes


February 27–May 9, 2010

A bouquet of tulips at the reception desk—a casual gesture with which the artists' collective Jochen Schmith makes reference to the first documented speculation bubble in economic history: so-called tulip mania. When the flower's still unknown bulb was brought to Holland in the late 16th century, the exotic plant sparked a downright tulip craze among the Dutch. A price explosion occurred in the 1630s, in part fifty-fold, so that, for example, a house in Amsterdam could be purchased for three tulip bulbs. The bubble burst in 1637: virtually overnight, prices fell by more than 95%. One of the paintings in the exhibition also features tulips. It is the copy of Flowers in a Glass Vase by Jan Brueghels the Elder (1568–1625), a painting stolen in 2008 and currently being sought by Interpol— Jochen Schmith had it reproduced in an 'artist village' in China, where painters produce commissioned assembly-line paintings

Jochen Schmith, an artists' collective consisting of Carola Wagenplast, Peter Hoppe, and Peter Steckroth, pursues the question of perceived values at different levels: on the one hand, it relates to the mechanisms that establish value and exclusivity, and, on the other hand, to the resulting consequences. However, Jochen Schmith consistently negotiates the fragmentation of realities or visual worlds, and in doing so makes the potentiality of places or things visible. By performing certain interventions, the collective visualizes structural changes to the historyladen, Early Classicist Villa Salve Hospes and relates these to current social constructions: in the spaces of the upperclass villa it presents, among other things, the former doorknobs of a contemporary highend boutique. The scratches on their surfaces are testimony to their having been used for twenty years; to the heavy rings on the fingers of customers with money to spend. Light projections on the villa's walls make reference to former (servant's) entrances that have been closed off in the meantime. Jochen Schmith enshrouds the stucco statues in the Haus Salve Hospes' rotunda with fabrics from haute couture collections, at the same time revealing their actual purpose: representation.

A comprehensive catalogue featuring contributions by Yilmaz Dziewior, Jörn Schafaff, and Hilke Wagner is being published in conjunction with the exhibition in collaboration with kunstzeitraum in Munich, from which the artists' collection Jochen Schmith has received a grant.



February 27–May 9, 2010

The Wild West is everywhere! The installation artist Christoph Dettmeier (*1966 in Cologne, lives in Berlin) seeks out and finds the endless expanse of the prairie in the Ruhr area, in Detroit, or in Berlin. In his works, desolate industrial wasteland takes on the role of the ghost towns. It constitutes the background for silhouettes of lonesome men on horseback or relief-like figures wearing cowboy hats. Whether in photographs or collages, in sculptures or as the video background for his bizarre performance Die Stunde des Cowboys (The Hour of the Cowboy): Dettmeier stages non-places in such a way that they appear to be surreal, utterly timeless, and surprisingly painterly. Although the focus is always on their pictorial quality, these photographs are also a sociology of decay—atmospheric, perhaps melancholic, yet never sentimental.

The locations are interchangeable, regardless of whether it is a shrinking city like Detroit, a sprawling megalopolis like Istanbul, or a brownfield in Berlin. The images in the viewer's mind charge the vast landscapes with emotion, and ultimately, only a few additional props are required—such as the spurred boots, the Johnny Cash songs, whiskey, or cigarettes Dett-meier uses in his 'Country Karaoke Shows'—and the myth of the heroic Wild West celebrates its merry revival!

Hatje Cantz has published a catalogue in conjunction with the exhibitions at the Städtische Galerie Remscheid and the Kunstverein Braunschweig with contributions by Jörg Heiser, Hilke Wagner, and Oliver Zybok.