November 4, 2017 - Kunstgebäude Stuttgart - What Are the Clouds?
November 4, 2017

Kunstgebäude Stuttgart

(1) Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme. (2) CPKC. (3) Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme. (4) Pier Paolo Pasolini. Design: Levin Stadler.

What Are the Clouds?
November 18, 2017–March 4, 2018

Opening: November 17, 7pm

Kunstgebäude Stuttgart
Schlossplatz 2
70173 Stuttgart
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Opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday–Sunday 11am–6pm, Wednesday 11am–8pm
Free guided tours: every Sunday, 5pm

Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, CPKC (Emily Fahlén, Peter Spillmann, Marion von Osten), Tim Etchells, Glenn Ligon, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Catarina Simão, Ana Torfs, Ana Vaz, a. o.

The exhibition What Are the Clouds? takes as its point of departure the Reformation Anniversary in order to reflect on freedom, emancipation, and imagination from the perspective of contemporary art. The exhibition’s starting point is the short film Che cosa sono le nuvole? (What Are the Clouds?) from the year 1968, by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The exhibition explores such aesthetic and discursive planes of resistance and participation, as well as the political and social implications evident in Pasolini’s film, and then places the artistic positions with their historical and current reflections on freedom, emancipation, and imagination into an intertextual relationship. Shown here especially are works based on rereadings or dis/reassemblies from the realms of art, literature, film, and theater.

This film revolves around a performance of Shakespeare’s Othello as a marionette theater—with the marionettes played by actors on strings. They question both their roles and their actions, with even the audience rebelling against the narrative: in order to avert the murder of Desdemona, they rush onto the stage and overcome Iago and the “Moor of Venice,” Othello. By having the latter played by a light-skinned actor with his face colored black, Pasolini is criticizing the racist rendering of dark-skinned people by white actors, a practice that is today called “blackfacing." In the end, Iago and Othello are carried away by a garbageman. At the dump, Othello sees clouds for the first time in his life… Pasolini’s film may be read as a parable for narratives of resistance from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

A central motif is the agency of the subject—his yearning and quest for the freedom of other ways of life, as well as the political dimension of one’s own thoughts and actions, defined here for instance as doubt, revolt, and reformulation.

Other topics in the exhibition include the ramifications of modern colonialism and the global slave trade, known to be rooted—together with capitalism—in the age of the Reformation.

Moreover, What Are the Clouds? references forms, discourses, and cultures of resistance with regard to the reworking of contemporary historical events, such as the protests against the Vietnam War or the independence movement against the Portuguese colonial powers in Mozambique during the 1960s and 1970s.


Curated by:
Iris Dressler, Christine Peters


The exhibition is accompanied by performances, lectures, workshops, and films, thus forming an associative field that complements the conceptual guiding motifs. All relevant information such as the dates of the curators’ tours can be found at

Still on show at the Württembergischer Kunstverein until January 14, 2018, is Alexander Kluge’s homage to Pasolini’s What Are the Clouds? as part of the exhibition Alexander Kluge: Gardens of Cooperation. There are combi-tickets available with this show as well as with Reformation in Württemberg, a special exhibition by the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg in the old section of the Kunstgebäude.


Press contact:
Birgit Gebhard & Maximilian Lehner, gebhard_lehner [​at​]

Kunstgebäude Stuttgart
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