Francis Alÿs Duett, 1999, In cooperation with Honoré´ d’O, Production still, Courtesy Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich.

Civic Opposition and Conflict as a Source of Cultural Dialogue

Nathan Coley, Annihilated Confessions (Black), 2007, Black and white photography and lacquer spray, 75 x 56 cm, Courtesy doggerfisher, Edinburgh and Haunch of Venison, London, Photo: Ruth Clark.

Mark Clare, Ping Pong Diplomacy, Installation view, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, 2008.


Kunstverein Hannover e.V.
Sophienstraße 2
+49 (0)511.32 45 94
Oppositions & Dialogues
Francis Alÿs, Nina Beier, Marie Lund, Rolf Bier, Mark Clare, Nathan Coley, Jeremiah Day, Öyvind Fahlström, Claire Fontaine, Lotte Lindner + Till Steinbrenner, Alex Morrison, Garrett Phelan, Ulay + Marina Abramov, Stephen Willats, Artur Zmijewski
May 30-August 9, 2009

Oppositions & Dialogues shows works from the 1960s to the present focusing on opposition as a crucial productive force in our culture and politics. Strikes, parliamentary debates, divorces, and lawsuits being only a few oppisitions making the dualistic nature of political and private everyday life clear. Differing opinions, points of view, and convictions often lead to conflicts in political and private areas.

Aside from the negative aspect of conflict, opposition and duality also contain the positive, productive aspect of reciprocal discussion and understanding through which something new can come about. In Francis Alÿs’s (born 1959 Antwerp) video Duett (1999), for example, two persons, each carrying half a tuba, walk aimlessly through the streets of Venice until they meet purely by chance; they join the two parts of the tuba together and play the assembled instrument.

The exhibition presents the use of opposition and confrontation as a means of artistic expression as well as artistic dealings with political and cultural resistances and areas of conflict. The productive aspect of dualities is often expressed in contemporary art by means of interaction. A confrontation is constructed in order to suspend it through interaction. A crucial aspect of the exhibition is therefore the representation of the intrinsic as well as factual forms of interaction in contemporary artworks.

The very literally playful installation, Ping Pong Diplomacy by Mark Clare (born 1968 London), invites the visitor to take part in a game of Ping Pong on a table tennis table, the surface of which has been modified to the extent that the ball does not react as usual. With this simple gesture, Clare demonstrates the vulnerability of a debate among equals: The interplay between the two participants in the game is influenced and made more difficult by a third unknown aspect — the ball’s altered trajectory and bounce angle.

Lotte Lindner + Till Steinbrenner (born 1971 / born 1967) send the visitors themselves on a collision course: ceiling-high partitions form a labyrinth-like parcours accessible from both sides, the width of which is hardly large enough for one person to pass through it. Although the interior is brightly illuminated by closely pressed together neon lights, the visitor entering the installation cannot see if someone is approaching from the other side. In the process, Lindner and Steinbrenner have created a space that not only enables encounters between the visitors, but also forces them to interact with each other according to the random principle when they attempt to pass by each other.

For the Willkommende Gemeinschaft [Welcoming Community] series (2006-2007), Jens Ullrich (born 1968 Tukuju, Tanzania) collected press photographs from all over the world and replaced the slogans on the banners with seemingly calligraphic letter collages made out of Letraset dry transferrable lettering sheets. With this intervention, Ullrich eliminates the object of the opposition from the photographs and directs the viewer’s attention to the culture of resistance itself.

For his piece Yes – no – but, Rolf Bier assembled one hundred forms filled out by friends, acquaintances and chance contacts in New York between April 2004 and March 2005 on which the three words “yes,” “no” and “but” are translated into the native tongue of the respective person and the signed specifying his or her name and nationality. The three words representing the basic vocabulary of every decision between agreement, negation and consideration are removed from all contextual backgrounds: Bier displays instead the universal spectrum of potential decisions itself.

In the video installation Them (2007), the Polish artist Artur Zmijewski documents the course of a clash staged by the artist between representatives of antagonistic social grouping in his native Poland. In a large artist’s studio, he initiated a workshop in which representatives from the Polish Socialist Youth, Democrats, Conservatives and Freedom Fighters took part.

Each group was given the task of representing values that were important to them on a poster. In a second step, all groups were given the opportunity to alter the posters of the other groups according to their own viewpoints. The viewer can follow the gradual escalation of the situation that begins with constructive commentaries in the form of additions, overpaintings and inscriptions. Hostile group dynamics then ensue when the discussion about the posters develops into fights and culminates in the burning of the completely destroyed posters and the flight from the studio.

The exhibition was curated in close cooperation with Matthew Packer (Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork / IR).

Jens Ullrich, Willkommende Gemeinschaft, 2006-2007, inkjet print, frames, Courtesy VAN HORN Düseldorf.

Francis Alÿs Duett, 1999, In cooperation with Honoré´ d’O, Production still, Courtesy Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich.