For the first time, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin will introduce
the recipients of the Villa Romana Fellowship. The exhibition
will feature new paintings, installations, and videos by Dani
Gal, Julia Schmidt, Aslı Sungu, and Clemens von Wedemeyer.
The Villa Romana Fellowship, awarded to exceptional young talent
since 1905, includes a stipend and a residency program,
allowing fellows to live and work for ten months in the artists’
house in Florence. This art prize is not just the oldest in Germany;
it also represents Deutsche Bank’s longest cultural commitment.
The presentation at the Deutsche Guggenheim marks a new
mile stone in the bank’s partnership with the arts, while also continuing
the series of exhibitions conceived by Deutsche Bank
within its joint venture with the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Foundation. Freisteller was curated by Angelika Stepken, Director
of the Villa Romana. The fellows were selected by the Berlin
artist Ayse Erkmen and the Leipzig art historian Beatrice von Bismarck.
The German term “Freisteller,” used in photography, printing and
computer graphics, describes an image that is cut out from its
background and context in order to insert it into a new composition.
Freisteller is also the title of the current exhibition at the
Deutsche Guggenheim that will introduce the Villa Romana Fellows — four young artists with diverse biographies and backgrounds
working in various media. At first glance, Dani Gal, Julia
Schmidt, Aslı Sungu, and Clemens von Wedemeyer seem to
have only two things in common: they live and work in Germany,
and they will now spend time together in a new cultural and geographical
environment — as residents of the renowned artists’
house in the hills of Florence.
Dani Gal: Oscillations, 2007
Courtesy Dani Gal
Yet, as the exhibition title suggests, the selected artists share a
number of common interests and strategies, specifically in the
field of photography. They disconnect motifs and themes from
their original context and, through this process of “cutting out,”
open up new discursive relationships. Dani Gal combines influences
from popular culture with historical research; Julia Schmidt
works with found images from magazines and the Internet,
which she fragments and isolates in her paintings; Aslı Sungu’s
videos explore everyday activities to show how our conception of
identity, and of “right” or “wrong” are socially determined; and
Clemens von Wedemeyer’s films fuse elements of political documentation
with fiction to expose the interplay between concrete
social situations and media representation.
Julia Schmidt: Ohne Titel / Untitled (crotch), 2007
Private Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2008
The organization of the exhibition
space as well departs from the
hermetic, protective structure of
the white cube. The window facade of the Deutsche Guggenheim is opened up, while partition
walls and platforms serve
as display units for the artworks.
Encountered within this temporary
exhibition design, the presented
works achieve a dual
purpose: they offer insights into
the creative practice of each of
the recipients, and they address
a broad spectrum of questions
raised by contemporary art — media and institutional critique, migration, and the ability to articulate
critical and political viewpoints.
Aslı Sungu: Faulty, 2007
Courtesy Aslı Sungu
The exhibition Freisteller documents how an institution like the
Villa Romana, rich in tradition and far from the great metropolitan
centers, can succeed in becoming a creative think tank of contemporary
art and a place for intercultural exchange. Equally
notable is the fact that the Villa Romana Fellows are now, for the
first time, being presented at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The
affiliation between both institutions establishes a public forum
that is capable of authentically reflecting the vital, internationally-oriented
art scene in Germany.
Clemens von Wedemeyer: Die Probe, 2008
Courtesy Clemens von Wedemeyer