SYNCH 03: An Imaginary Audience. A brief history of performance art at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden

Opening: Friday, December 02, 2022, 7pm

with works and archive material by Yael Bartana, Tracey Emin, Rebecca Horn, Stephan von Huene with Yasuhiro Sakamoto, Jürgen Klauke, Eva Koťátková, Oleg Kulik, and Emeka Ogboh

  • 7 pm: Introduction by Misal Adnan Yıldız, Director: Who is an Imaginary Audience?
  • 7.30 pm: Lecture by Johanna Sentef, Curatorial Trainee: -ISTORY
  • ca. 8.30 pm: Tour with the design collective Matter of: Footnotes by the Graphic Designer

The archive presentation An Imaginary Audience. A brief history of performance art at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, part of the exhibition series SYNCH, is based on a comprehensive research for investigating the exhibition history of Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden through performance art.

This endeavor focuses on performativity as an artistic tool and the transition of the audience from a receiver to a participant, performer, and user in the digital age. Observing the organization of everyday life in Baden-Baden, its maps of social relationships, rituals, and ceremonies, we are inspired to ask: in a distinctively ‘performative’ city such as Baden-Baden, how do a public institution and her publics remember performance art and performativity?

Specific artworks revisited from the Kunsthalle’s exhibition history, ask what stays with us after the physical bodies of the exhibitions are dismantled, how do they survive in our memories, in what forms and archives. After analyzing the exhibition history’s data from a gender sensitive perspective, as a critical attempt to rewrite a herstory of the institution, selected works from Tracey Emin, Rebecca Horn, and Eva Koťátková are revisited and positioned at the center of the presentation. With an interest in this intergenerational dialogue, Rebecca Horn’s 90-minute color film La Ferdinanda – Sonate für eine Medici-Villa (1981) reminds us of its contextual references that are still relevant today.

Emin’s video work entitled Sometimes the Dress is Worth More Money Than the Money (2000) with its strong potential of gaining a new meaning in the city of “good-good life”, has nevertheless never been shown before at the Kunsthalle, even though the artist exhibited here several times; also Koťátková’s sculpture Ear No. 4 (2014) is evidence of the tradition of connecting the sense of sight with that of hearing. Both are accompanying Horn’s piece with a strong emphasis on female ontologies, and the transition of body related ideologies.

The living documents by Oleg Kulik, Stephan von Huene with Yasuhiro Sakamoto, Jürgen Klauke, and Emeka Ogboh invite the visitors to experience various spirals of time and a merging of different eras. An unrealised proposal by Yael Bartana, who has been working with the current directors from the beginning of their tenure, comes back as a reminder of the shift in conceptual but also political framing of the programme.

An Imaginary Audience combines four forms of memory that are set in relation to each other: Exhibition history, publications, archival materials, and live moments make possible a multidimensional reflection on history, performance, and forms of the archive. Visitors are invited to leave their own memories as well as share them online. A specially created digital archive will expand the exhibition and change it over its course. An interlocking of analog and digital layers thus makes it possible to synchronize institutional and social forms of memory.

Publications are considered conversation pieces to initiate new connections as well as reconnect existing channels within our community. Exhibition material, ephemera, editions, previous logos and institutional identities are brought together to investigate bodies, materials and also forms of endurance, circulation, distribution and what keeps our memories.

SYNCH is a series of exhibitions conceived for mediating conversations between diverse creative ideas, specific collections, and forms of collectives. The aim is to uncover hidden connections between works from contrasting contexts, and to maybe reach a synchronization by reflecting on common references and shared historic narratives.

This edition of SYNCH is co-conceived by Misal Adnan Yıldız together with the design collective Matter of, Dominik Busch, and Johanna Sentef at different levels of engagement from research elements to design and display, or conception to reception. It is a process based project that will change over time in collaboration with external professionals, different publics, and a yet to define online community.