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ifa-Galerie Berlin presents Spheres of Interest

June 24–September 18, 2022

Opening: June 23, 6–10pm

How did the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) art collection come to be? What can these decisions teach us about the socio-political conditions, trends, and protagonists of the time? Which works were acquired when and by whom, and what can these decisions reveal us about the socio-political conditions, trends, and protagonists of the time? From today’s perspective, how might we participate in and restructure collections like these? Six international artists working in Berlin have been invited to participate in an open process to approach ifa’s extraordinary collection, which includes over 23,000 works, in all of its nuances and layers, for this exhibition.

The six artists use the ifa art collection’s historic architecture, exhibition histories, and, in particular, the partial preservation of the collection that originally belonged to the GDR Zentrum für Kunstausstellungen (ZfK) to conduct personal study. They scan the collection for overlaps, parallelism, and omissions based on their own “Spheres of Interest.” The exhibition’s title refers to Ruth Wolf-eponymous Rehfeldt’s work, a pioneer of the GDR’s Mail Art movement who, unlike her husband Robert Rehfeldt, was hitherto unrepresented in the collection.

Some pieces were kept in their ifa shipment crates until recently, while others are returning home after extensive exhibition tours with numerous stops, and still others have only recently been repaired. Such are the diverse pathways that these pieces have taken to arrive to the ifa-Galerie Berlin.

Isaac Chong Wai has created a performance based on Käthe Kollwitz’s woodcut The Mothers (1922–23), which depicts the portrayal of a collective body affected by war experiences. May, Lizza David’s research focuses on post-World War II portrayals of German migrant societies. Ofri Lapid has constructed a “Language Tour” following the exhibition places based on Joseph Kosuth’s lexical works. MOTUS, a local pop-up touring exhibition for which Adrien Missika created a cargo bicycle that activates selected Fluxus works in public space, will be presented by Adrien Missika. Wilhelm Klotzek’s intervention contains previously unseen works from the ZfK collection, including works by Wieland Förster and Carlfriedrich Claus, which he responds to with an audio assembly.Gitte Villesen examines the collection’s absences with a feminist eye, selecting items accordingly. Her text and image tableaus explore the orientations of the artists’ and curators’ collaborative process.

This close collaboration allows critical and amusing views, remarks, and questions to influence one another and condense into a polyphonic form, a tapestry of interlaced relationships that provides fresh perspectives on the ifa art collection. Simultaneously, the show represents forms of connection based on faith in artistic and collective processes. They address pressing issues of the day, highlighting both collective memory and new opportunities for action.

The ifa art collection

The history of the ifa art collection is inextricably linked to the notion of ifa touring exhibitions, which have been developed by curators since the 1970s and feature works from Germany. They are on display in both large and small worldwide museums and cultural institutes. Projects that are socially and politically significant and communicate contemporary artistic impulses are also a focus. Currently, works from ifa are on display in 20 shows, and a portion of the collection is on loan to museums.

Since 2020, contemporary artists have been invited to engage in dialogical interactions with individual artworks from the ifa art collection at the ifa galleries in Berlin and Stuttgart. This method of re-evaluating individual works is known as “Out of the Box.”

Isaac Chong Wai, Lizza May David, Wilhelm Klotzek, Ofri Lapid, Adrien Missika and Gitte Villesen feature works from the ifa art collection by Joseph Beuys/ Nicolás García Uriburu, Carlfriedrich Claus, Wieland Förster, Zille Homma Hamid, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Hannah Höch, Franz Klekawka, Käthe Kollwitz, Joseph Kosuth, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Simone Nieweg, Robert Rehfeldt, Takako Saito, Eran Schaerf, Endre Tót, Rosemarie Trockel, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt.  

Curated by Inka Gressel and Suanne Weiß. 

ifa-Galerie Berlin
Linienstraße 139/140
10115 Berlin
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 2–6pm,
Thursday 2–8pm

T +49 30 28449110
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