Kunsthalle Osnabrück launches this year's theme Romanticism

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Kunsthalle Osnabrück launches this year's theme Romanticism
Anna Haifisch, The Artist - Ode an die Feder, 2021, Reprodukt Berlin, Courtesy Anna Haifisch./Anna Haifisch, The Artist - Ode an die Feder, 2021, Reprodukt Berlin, Courtesy of Anna Haifisch.

OSNABRÜCK.- The Kunsthalle Osnabrück launched the first part of the exhibition and art mediation programme "Romanticism". Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a war in Ukraine, Kunsthalle Osnabrück sets out to explore the question: What’s the current state of our hope and desire for love, identity and belonging? This year’s theme “Romanticism” uses the eponymous art and literature movement as a distorting mirror with which to examine the current state of society. Sweeping across Germany and Europe, hardly any other movement has managed to shape such a strong collective feeling situated between departure, nostalgia and nationalism through aesthetic means.

Set against the backdrop that is the art gallery’s medieval architecture, we want to investigate whether the current sense of global turmoil has inspired a comeback of the visual and linguistic worlds of Romanticism. The forest? The ruin? The artist in bed? What is this telling us? And how can we offer resistance and stand up for freedom in society through the means of art?

The programme includes solo exhibitions and new productions especially created for Osnabrück by national and international artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings (UK), Forum demokratische Kultur und zeitgenössische Kunst (DE), Gabriella Hirst (AU), Anna Haifisch (DE), Irène Mélix (DE), Cemile Sahin (DE) and Andrzej Steinbach (DE). The last two will launch their work at the opening of the second exhibition round on November 5, 2022.

For the entrance area and cloister of Kunsthalle Osnabrück, the artist Anna Haifisch developed several table sculptures and a new narrative image series in which she lets “The Artist” explore the city of Osnabrück. Anna Haifisch is a comic artist and illustrator. With a humorous and revealing take on our society, she portrays her protagonists as animals. Haifisch became known for her comic “The Artist” – a tormented, skinny bird that can be viewed as a mirror of the modern-day struggles artists face under neoliberalism, but also as a reckoning with the arts industry and the ever-present, contradictory idea of art as a creative and higher calling.

Gabriella Hirst's archive of living and dying plants, which has continuously been growing since 2014, reveals a complex history, reflected in the breeder’s naming of plant varieties based on historical events. The installation ”Battlefield“, conceived for the courtyard of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, references the construction of both military drill formations and historical garden designs and focuses on plant cultivars as representing historical heritage and the culture of remembrance. The approximately 200 plant varieties used have been named after famous battles, conquered territories, generals or weapons.

Working across film, painting, drawing and performance, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings address the socio-cultural and political structures that reinforce conservatism and discriminatory practices within and around the LGBTQI+ community. For their solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, the artists will present a new installation, “Inside“, which combines a multi-channel sound work with fifteen found dollhouses representing various domestic architectural styles. Sourced in the UK, the houses date from the late 19th century to the present day.

As part of their artistic practice, the Forum demokratische Kultur und zeitgenössische Kunst (Forum DCCA) employs a method of cultural critique to focus on the cultural continuities of racism and antisemitism. Building on from their examination of different waves of Romanticism and ethno-nationalist ideas in the “Völkisch” movement, the Forum demokratische Kultur und zeitgenössische Kunst will present two new video works in the installational setting of a ruin. In their work, they explore the political and cultural impact and reciprocal nature of Romanticism and antisemitism as well as a continued rejection of modernity up until the present day.

Irène Mélix is an artist with a strongly activist-based approach. In Osnabrück, she traces moments of historic and contemporary queer encounters. Throughout the project, she will be offering opportunities for collective participation and interaction. Based on extensive research in archives, personal interviews with queer people of all generations and political activists, the common search for queer life with the people of Osnabrück will translate into a diverse range of event formats.

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