Zilberman Gallery – Istanbul presents Simon Wachsmuth: Dramatization, the artist’s second solo show at the gallery.
Simon Wachsmuth is interested in the materializations of memory and dealing with cultural (re)constructions of history. His art questions the relationship between material traces, representations and forms of their present employment. As often, Wachsmuth focuses on the images we have of the past. But how true and accurate are the accounts of history presented to us? And how can we use these materials and their history in order to critically reflect our present?
The video titled “Qing” shows a dancer interacting with traditional Chinese silk-robes and Japanese porcelains. Taking its roots from a personal story, this piece focuses on the idea of “migration of gestures” through the situation of the immigrants who cannot take anything with them except the physical knowledge that is part of their cultural heritage. Accompanied by an arrangement of archival materials, “Qing” experiments with narrative formats and modes of meaning production, thus suggesting an interpretation of the continued existence of antique forms and signs into the present.
The Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648) and the Peace of Westphalia (1648) are the starting points for another extensive new project by Wachsmuth. Alongside Bertolt Brecht´s play Mother Courage and her Children, Wachsmuth is creating a complex series of works that refer to the war and its afterlife, asking: How have artists captured that moment, how has this war been displayed in images, literature, music and documents? Yet most crucial is the question how it is represented, interpreted and used by the society in present times.
The first part dealing with these issues, was produced in 2016/17 for the MARTA Museum in Herford*. The installation “Pax Optima Rerum” (Peace is the Greatest Good) pursued how documents, monuments and images as materialized memories can form our cultural memory and understanding of history. Using especially collected materials from the city and the region of Herford/Westfalia, Wachsmuth spun a web from the historical events, from a local perspective up to the present. Centerpiece of the installation was a four-wheeled cart, reminiscent of the hand pulled cart of the main character in Bertolt Brecht´s play Mother Courage and her Children. But that vehicle is not only a sutler´s mobile shop, it is also a symbol for war, death and flight as well as for the mobility of images and an allusion to the term “Bilderfahrzeug” (image vehicle), coined by the well-known art historian Aby Warburg—referring to the transfer of history to new contexts of content.
In the continuation of this project in Istanbul, Wachsmuth presents now an object and a series of graphic works that focus on Brecht´s preoccupation with this subject. As Brecht was using the historic backdrop of the Thirty Year’s War for a critique of the events in Europe in the 30´s and 40´s, the question arises, how art generally uses historical material in order to address contemporary issues.
*The Marta Prize of the Wemhöner Foundation was awarded to Wachsmuth in 2017. It comes with an endowment and provides for the commissioning of a prominent artistic work every two years for the Marta Collection. This is to be developed locally in line with the collection and exhibition focus of the museum.
Simon Wachsmuth (Hamburg, 1964) lives and works in Berlin. He studied painting and visual media design at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. He participated in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, at prestigious institutions including Steirischer Herbst/Kunsthaus Graz (2016), Suzhou Museum of Art (China, 2016), Neues Museum Nürnberg (2016), 21er Haus in Vienna (2015), Busan Biennale (South Korea, 2012), the Museu Reina Sofia in Madrid (2010), Istanbul Biennial (2009) and documenta12 (Kassel, 2007). He was awarded the Otto Mauer Prize (2003), the distinction of the Prix Ars Electronica (1989) and most recently, the Prize of the Wemhöner Stiftung of the Marta-Museum in Herford as well as the Outstanding Artist Award of the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Wachsmuth was a guest-professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar.