On the Shoulders of Giants

On the Shoulders of Giants

Kunsthalle Mainz

Goshka Macuga, Madness and Ritual, 2014. Collage on c-print, 48 x 66 cm. Courtesy Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle. © Goshka Macuga.

February 24, 2016
On the Shoulders of Giants
February 26–May 22, 2016
Opening: February 25, 7:30pm
Kunsthalle Mainz
Am Zollhafen 3-5
55118 Mainz
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–5pm

T +49 6131 126936

Matthew Buckingham, Cao Dan, Cao Fei, Ragnar Kjartansson, Agnieszka Kurant, Zac Langdon-Pole, Goshka Macuga, Kris Martin, Deimantas Narkevičius, Egill Sæbjörnsson

“Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
John of Salisbury: Metalogicon 3, 4, 46–50

The saying is as contemporary now as it was centuries ago, because nothing comes from itself, there was always a Before. What connects every person on earth is the fact that we all have a history. Rather than existing in isolation, we are all bound together in an interwoven network of biological, social, professional, ideological and genetic relationships. In countless spheres of life we follow those who have gone before us: our forerunners. In families there are ancestors, with respect to history or career there are generally predecessors, researchers and scholars rely on the findings of pioneers, while thought and imagination are sparked by the achievements of founders, inventors, ground breakers, and modernisers. The history of humankind is made up of an accumulating wealth of events, discoveries, and triumphs which provide a secure footing for subsequent generations.

The international group exhibition On the Shoulders of Giants is devoted to the theme of predecessors in contemporary art. This involves patterns of evolutionary phases or family relationships as much as it addresses the relationship of contemporary artists to the works and achievements of their counterparts from the past. As the successors of specific human beings, artistic achievements or stylistic schools, the artists’ oeuvres are trapped in an ongoing quest to be evaluated and classified. The urge to create something new which has previously been neither seen nor thought is growing, along with the fear of creating something that looks strange, something not easily grasped or categorised. This tension characterises artistic creativity.

The exhibition On the Shoulders of Giants is by no means an exhortation to put up with what has already been achieved. On the contrary, blind, dogmatic assumptions can only be avoided by constantly questioning the ruling consensus. Exploring the roots and influences of visual artists, it attempts to recognise the successes of predecessors by both critically considering them and actively using them—for something altogether new.

Curated by Stefanie Böttcher

Series of lectures
On the Shoulders of Giants
in cooperation with Kunsthochschule Mainz, Prof. Dr. Linda Hentschel

Wednesday, March 23, 7pm
Lecture by PD Dr. Stefan Seit

Wednesday, April 13, 7pm
Lecture by Prof. Dr. Victoria von Flemming

Wednesday, April 27, 7pm
Lecture by Prof. Dr. Änne Söll

Wednesday, May 11, 7pm
Lecture by Dr. Marion Witteyer

Wednesday, June 1, 7pm
Panel discussion with Ursula Schöndeling, Dr. Ingrid Pfeiffer, Lucas Fastabend, Prof. Dieter Kiessling, moderated by Prof. Dr. Linda Hentschel and Stefanie Böttcher

“Fade into You”—a series of film screenings
View, drink and discuss
Episode LIII-LV

Wednesday, March 16, 7pm
Deimantas Narkevičius, The Role of a Lifetime, 2003 / Peter Watkins, Forgotten Faces, 1961

Wednesday, April 20, 7pm
Nathalie Djurberg, New Movements in Fashion, 2006 / The Mad Tea Party, 2004; music by Hans Berg

Wednesday, May 18, 7pm
Rosalind Nashashibi, Eyeballing, 2005

Other events
Wednesday, March 9, 7pm
Guided tour with Dr. Michael Schmitz and Stefanie Böttcher

Sunday, April 3, 1:30pm
Guided tour through the Zollhafen area in cooperation with Geographie für Alle e.V.

Saturday, May 7
In Zukunft: Mainz in cooperation with Staatstheater Mainz and Johannes Gutenberg-University
resources theme day

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Kunsthalle Mainz
February 24, 2016

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