press release

From September 13 to November 9, 2008, the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart is presenting the exhibition "Wild Signals. Artistic Positions between Symptom and Analysis." The exhibition comprises works by eleven international artists who have appropriated scientific methods in different ways. Historical documents are subjected to a shifted reading. The instruments and discourses of criminology, psychoanalysis, ethnology, natural and parasciences are borrowed as much as questioned. With an attitude that is as critical as it is ironical, the artists confront that production of truth that seeks to master the unknown and the incomprehensible and that rests on the denial of its own fallacies.

Speculation and staging, as techniques intrinsic to scientific thought, its experiments and reasonings, receive special attention – not least because this is the point at which aesthetic and scientific practices intersect. For example, stage, photography and film have long been described as instruments of knowledge, that serve not to prove but rather to actually produce and stage knowledge.

"Wild Signals" presents artistic mis-en-scènes of knowledge – and non-knowledge – in which the performative aspect is manifest. Here, knowledge appears in an open resonant space in which fact and possibility, what may be interpreted and what may not, are mutually conditional.

The exhibition's title refers to Kevin Schmidt's video installation of the same name.

Corinne May Botz (*1977, USA), The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 2004 In her photographs, Corinne May Botz presents a collection of meticulously created crime scene models made by Frances Glessner Lee (USA) in the 1940s. Each of the doll's house-like dioramas presents a composite of various unsolved criminal cases. They were designed on the basis of police reports, while the detailed furnishings of the various crime scenes were the product of Lee's imagination.

Sorel Cohen (*1936, CND), Divans Dolorosa, 2008 Sorel Cohen's series shows photographs that the artist took in the consultation rooms of fourteen different psychoanalysts from Quebec. The focus in each case is on the couch – the icon of Freud's talking cure. Each deserted interior is assigned a concept from the field of psychoanalysis. 

Martin Dammann (*1965, D), Soldier Studies, 2007 Martin Dammann's works are based on an extensive collection of photographs from the two world wars. The "Soldier Studies" series focuses on German World War II soldiers involved in various "cross-dressing" scenarios.

Charles Gaines (*1944, USA), Night Crimes, 1997 Charles Gaines researched in the archives of the Los Angeles Times for crime scene  pictures and portraits of killers. In the four photomontages he assigns a criminal's face to each scene of a crime, while in fact there is no connection between the two. The third  element he adds is a sky chart displaying the constellation at the exact time of the crime. 

Jana Gunstheimer (*1974, D), Stammsitz, 2005 In her work – ensembles of black-and-white watercolors and objects – Jana Gunstheimer takes a critical, tongue-in-cheek look at the structures of scientific methods. Here, the construction and reconstruction of the research findings coincide. This also applies to the "Stammsitz" project, a work in progress that examines the Krupp dynasty and its domicile, the Villa Hügel in Essen.

Susan Hiller (*1942, UK), The Curiosities of Sigmund Freud, 2005 "The Curiosities of Sigmund Freud" is based on eight tiny microscope slides – micro-dots of collages of paintings and photographs –, possessed by the family of Sigmund Freud. Susan Hiller created magnified prints of them. The pictures are only shadowy and barely decipherable. A further find reveals a slip by the scientist.

Joachim Koester (*1962, USA), The Magic Mirror of John Dee, 2005  "The Magic Mirror of John Dee" is dedicated to one of the most important scientists of the seventeenth century and his occult practices. His attempts to communicate with the otherworld, in order to better understand the earthly, failed. The piece features one of the tools of his experiments: the surface of a black mirror.

Joshua Mosley (*1974, USA), dread, 2007 Inspired by Blaise Pascal's "Pensées" and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Emile", Joshua Mosley drafts a fictitious dialogue between the two philosophers. The subject is the relationship between man and nature, the question as to whether things are there by themselves or created by god and are therefore good.

Pablo Pijnappel (*1979, NL), Felicitas, 2005 In his works, Pablo Pijnappel re/constructs the unusual paths through life of various family members. Based on the family archive and other historical visual documents, his narratives oscillate between the credible and the incredible, the mundane and the grotesque. The three-part slide projection "Felicitas" revolves around the story of Felicitas Baer, a friend of Pijnappel's mother.

Tim Roda (*1977, USA) Tim Roda's black-and-white photographs are based on elaborate stage-like installations in which he interacts with his family. The opulent sets are furnished with numerous obscure, fantastic props made from everyday materials and remnants, that the actors use for their performance.

Kevin Schmidt (*1972, CND), Wild Signals, 2007 The video installation "Wild Signals" presents a stage rig that is both spectacular and spectral in the midst of unspoilt nature: as if it were about invoking the sublime, the incomprehensible, that does not, however, appear. The installation features the five-note melody that served to communicate with extraterrestrials in Steven Spielberg's film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

Wild Signals
Artistic Positions between Symptom and Analysis

Künstler: Corinne May Botz, Sorel Cohen, Martin Dammann, Charles Gaines, Jana Gunstheimer, Susan Hiller, Joachim Koester, Joshua Mosley, Pablo Pijnappel, Tim Roda, Kevin Schmidt