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Ludwig Forum Aachen presents Kerstin Brätsch: Die Sein—Para Psychics

September 24, 2022–February 5, 2023

Opening: September 23, 7pm

Book launch: September 24, 11am, with a guided tour through the exhibition with Kerstin Brätsch, Kerstin Stakemeier, and Eva Birkenstock

Painter Kerstin Brätsch, who divides her time between Berlin and New York, has honed a particular method of working through which she continuously broadens the scope of painting, redefining and interpreting it through the inclusion of performances, artistic interventions, and installations. She draws on traditional artisanal techniques, some of which have been lost, in addition to her regular collaboration with other artists like Adele Röder (DAS INSTITUT), Debo Eilers (KAYA), and Ei & Tomoo Arakawa (UNITED BROTHERS), in order to humorously reveal painting’s metaphysical and animistic qualities.

Her most recent series, Para Psychics, continues this investigation, but in a different way. Brätsch converted her expansive and collaborative style into a daily introspective sketching process during the first Covid-19 lockdown in New York. She produced 100 Mandala-like drawings between January 2020 and March 2022, during which time she actively studied mysticism, tarot, plant medicine, and gods including the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna. In a site-specific installation of transparent spatial constructions and tinted window panes that alter the light, Die Sein: Para Psychics at the Ludwig Forum Aachen exhibits all 100 drawings from this series for the first time, giving the observer a singular experience. The drawings are a continuation of her investigation into how painting relates to the body, whether it be social, physical, or spiritual. The designs, which are scattered throughout the museum’s metal structures and walls and recall abstract fortune-telling, are arranged so that viewers can explore and interpret them.

The series’ name alludes to earlier works by Brätsch, the so-called Psychics (2005–2008), for which she scoured New York for a plethora of fortune tellers. Ultimately, the outcomes of the meetings served as the inspiration for a large number of oil paintings—painted, temporary realities that vacillate between irony and authenticity. In series like the Psychics, the subsequent Unstable Talismanic Renderings (since 2014), the Blocked Radiants (2011), or the Fossil Psychics (Stucco Marmo) (since 2017), however, it was the materiality of the works themselves or the associated production processes that opened up links to questions of animism in painting: by building images out of drops (marblings), by sculpted brushstrokes that seem fossilized (stuccos), and through the constant multiplication of her own artistic identity, including old handcrafts and their masters (or in the case of the Psychics, by painting abstract portraits after actual sessions with psychics). After many years of collaborating with artists and craftspeople, Brätsch, however, is inverting this collaborative impetus with the Para Psychics. She no longer creates the means for investigating different realms, temporalities, and personalities by enlisting others or through age-old methods, but rather (sparked by her own solitude brought on by the lockdown) via/para the multiplicity of her self. The drawings are essentially personal concretions of the involuntary pause during the pandemic and were created utilizing the most basic, easily accessible resources like colored pencils and paper. However, they also reveal a continuous process of seeing and being that is in transition through their formal reference to divination cards.Die Sein is a translation of the German word “Da Sein,” which means “to be there, to exist,” using the pronoun “Die/she” in place of “Da/there.” It also alludes to the transition in Brätsch’s artistic working style that the drawings represent: she emphasizes a personalized, feminine “being there,” in which the importance of her own mutability, complexity, and diversity is replaced by that of collaborators. 

With a sound sphere composed by Wibke Tiarks.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock


In parallel with the exhibition, the artist book Para Psychics, edited by Bettina Funcke, will be published by Ludwig Forum Aachen and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König. With contributions by Báyò Akómoláfé, Eva Birkenstock, Kerstin Brätsch, CAConrad, Bettina Funcke, Donna Haraway, Inanna, Lucretius, Kerstin Stakemeier, Zoe Stillpass, Merlin Sheldrake, and Michael Taussig. On the occasion of its release, we invite you to a guided tour with Kerstin Brätsch, Kerstin Stakemeier (Professor for Art Theory and Mediation, Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg), and Eva Birkenstock on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at 11am.

Ludwig Forum Aachen
Jülicher Str. 97-109
D -52070 Aachen
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm

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