Michael Beutler

Michael Beutler

Hamburger Bahnhof—Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

Michael Beutler, Moby Dick, 2015. View of installation during setup at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Thomas Bruns.

April 19, 2015

Michael Beutler
Moby Dick

April 17–September 6, 2015

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
Invalidenstraße 50-51
10557 Berlin 
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm, Saturday–Sunday 11am–6pm


From April 17 to September 6, Hamburger Bahnhof is dedicating a solo exhibition in the museum’s historical hall to the artist Michael Beutler (b. 1976), who lives and works in Berlin.

This artist’s installations inhabit and transform spaces. They are meant to be understood as reactions to architectural and social structures, as well as to specific situations found at each exhibition site. In the context of the exhibition Moby Dick, Hamburger Bahnhof’s central hall, with its prominent iron skeleton construction, is the starting point for Michael Beutler’s sculptural interventions. He takes existing architectural structural elements and transforms them into constructions that evolve into installations. These compositions, in turn, inherently unite a dual function that is both architecture and sculpture. Unlike the permanent, solidly built hall, with its heavy iron beams and spotlessly painted white walls, Beutler’s constructions appear open and light. Something seemingly unfinished, ephemeral and undefined exists within them. And it is from its open-ended constitution that the installation comments on the nature of the museum’s architecture. It makes reference to the history of this building, particularly by incorporating forms that bear witness to the train station’s original architectural style.

In this presentation the artist goes beyond simply elevating the historical hall as the show’s protagonist; instead Beutler transforms the space into a site of continuous production, i.e. into a “museum workshop” or some type of gigantic studio. Consuming the entire hall, the newly created installation will serve as the basic framework for integrating diverse sculptural components over the course of the show, including some earlier works. Various elements will be modified or enhanced during several “phases of construction.” Just how much the exhibition will change over the course of its presentation is not foreseeable at the time of the opening. This “undefined” moment—the playful flexibility and openness in Michael Beutler’s work—is decisive; and sculpture interpreted within these parameters refers to the possibilities of experimentation above all. The process is meant to be understood as (open) acts perceived in connection with the works’ claims to objecthood. The artist’s working methods in the historical hall at Hamburger Bahnhof become a visible platform for anyone viewing the exhibition, underscoring the performance character of the works, which are primarily characterized by Beutler’s cooperation with his team. Accordingly, the social structure and the decision-making developments connected to his “crew” are elemental components of the installation.

The role of the process itself also becomes evident in the apparatuses distributed throughout the exhibition space. The artist constructs his tools himself, usually assembled together out of wood. He produces them alongside the other elements of the installation, which will remain as autonomous objects in the space, or as components that will be integrated into larger structures. Characterized by sculptural presence and simultaneously left behind in the exhibition space as relics of production, the self-developed processes and devices counteract high-tech, dehumanized forms of work, and consequently also the economics normally associated with them.

Curator: Melanie Roumiguière; Curatorial Assistant: Greta Hoheisel

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition; published by Spector Books, and edited by Udo Kittelmann and Melanie Roumiguière for the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

The exhibition is made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie and is supported by VW.

Edited by Udo Kittelmann and Melanie Roumiguière for the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Texts by Melanie Roumiguière and Anna Szaflarski. Published by Spector Books, Leipzig 2015. German/English, soft cover, 208 pages, 75 illustrations.

Press contact
Dr. Katharina von Chlebowski Theresa Lucius
T +49 (0) 30 26 39 48 80 / F +49 (0) 30 26 39 48 811 / presse [​at​] freunde-der-nationalgalerie.de

Michael Beutler at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
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April 19, 2015

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