press release

Joachim Koester
The way out is the way in
March 9–June 27, 2021

“When we perceive an artwork, it happens through a string of correspondences, connections and associations. Of course we also connect to art through emotions, but as soon as we start thinking and speaking about an artwork we actively engage a web of potential meanings.” Joachim Koester

“Perception”, “consciousness” and “connectedness” are the crucial constant factors in Joachim Koester’s thought and oeuvre. They constitute both the driving force behind his artistic work and what results from it. At a formal level, his photographs, videos, sound pieces and installations appear minimalistic, but they spread out bit by bit with their immense, interwoven spectrum of meaning.

They tell of people whose bodily movements have been induced by a tarantula bite, which essentially seems to be driving them to a state of rapture; of praying mantises that virtually merge with their surroundings; of imaginary journeys that lead to a place of abandoned futures; of the characteristic surface structures of cocaine or marijuana particles, which are far from being immediately recognisable to people. Ways of blurring boundaries – the transition from animal to plant, or from animal to human—and borderline experiences—such as drawing when under the influence of the drug mescaline or achieving new states of consciousness via meditation—are the common thread running through the exhibition The way out is the way in. What are the methods and aids that allow us to temporarily leave the limitations of our own bodies and our own thoughts behind us? What results from these kinds of experiences in terms of movements, thoughts, actions or images?

The relationship between physical and mental experiences; physical perception and comprehension; and their influence on what penetrates through to our brains and vice versa: these are all issues that appeal to Joachim Koester. Certain areas of the brain are stimulated, while by contrast others are powered down. Which parts of our brain do we use? Can new experiences, can a work of art, produce new stimuli for areas of the brain, but also parts of the body, that are seldom activated?

This transgression of different kinds of thresholds is presented in the songs of (almost) extinct birds as well as in a planetary system to which objects of various origins, genus and eras are assigned. The new connections that emerge from this are both associative and inspire their own links. The subjective perception and consciousness of the visitors are as central as those of the works’ protagonists and of the artist himself. Animals, stones and plants interact with planets to create a constellation inspired by the mnemonic technique of the memory palace. Alternative connections are formed, as well as systems of categorisation; an art exhibition is transformed into an alternative memory palace. A step forward leads back to a new universe, as if in an infinitely rotating spiral—The way out is the way in.

The route through Joachim Koester’s exhibition resembles a stroll through neglected, abandoned or unknown locations – in the psyche, the body, the city, the cosmos. The artist himself calls the process of experiencing his works “inhaling the exhibition”: physically registering the exhibition spaces and the works, and then absorbing what is inhaled into the senses.

Curated by Stefanie Böttcher

The exhibition is kindly supported by Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz, Danish Arts Foundation, Denmark Deutschland Kultur 2020, Kgl. Dänische Botschaft and Mainzer Volksbank.