September 23, 2020 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - We Never Sleep
September 23, 2020

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

WE NEVER SLEEP, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2020. Illustration © csaimages.

We Never Sleep
September 24, 2020–January 10, 2021

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
60311 Frankfurt am Main
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The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is dedicating an international group exhibition to the fascination of espionage in contemporary art. Whereas in the past, individuals or states were spied on by national governments, in times of digital communication citizens make state secrets public, and whistleblowers denounce the surveillance of the general population by their own government. Today, the openness and transparency of modern states is countered by new mechanisms of surveillance, manipulation, and espionage. Digital networks and technologies, as well as the willing spread of personal data, open up hitherto unforeseen possibilities for obtaining and disseminating intelligence. Against this backdrop and in the face of global crises, digital surveillance, fake news, and conspiracy theories, a renewed interest in the strategies of secrecy is emerging.

We Never Sleep highlights espionage through the prism of contemporary art and design and presents works by 40 international artists. About 70 paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, and installations explore the topic from a contemporary point of view, with the works touching on aspects of espionage such as surveillance, paranoia, conspiracy, threat, camouflage, cryptography, manipulation, and propaganda. On view are a multitude of artistic strategies dealing with the “golden age” of espionage during the Cold War, while other works probe the current context of media super-exposure. New and already existing projects, as well as a collection of unexpected objects, are presented in Adrien Rovero’s exhibition architecture as an intriguing and comprehensive environment—exploring the world of espionage between reality and fiction. Historical apparatuses such as the Enigma encryption machine provide insights into the reality of surveillance and secrecy. Also, popular culture has created a glamourous image around the myth of the spy, featuring heroic and shady figures, an image that continues to thrill audiences still today. As early as the nineteenth century, spy novels emerged as a separate narrative genre; and the history of film and cinema has also contributed much to the popularity of the subject. Selected book covers as well as film posters and film will be on view in the exhibition, demonstrating how the entertainment industry has been inspired by the reality of intelligence gathering.

All the artists in the exhibition: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Maja Bajevic, Jean-Luc Blanc, Nina Childress, Guy de Cointet, Thomas Demand, Simon Denny, Mauricio Dias & Walter Riedweg, Stan Douglas, Charles and Ray Eames, Forensic Architecture, Dora García, Mathis Gasser, Rodney Graham, Eva Grubinger, Humans since 1982, Alfredo Jaar, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Gabriel Lester, Jonas Lund, Lim Minouk, Dora Longo Bahia, Jill Magid, Fabian Marti, Josephine Meckseper, Mieko Meguro, Metahaven, Aleksandra Mir, Henrike Naumann, Trevor Paglen, Park Chan-Kyong and Park Chan-Wook, Cornelia Schleime, Jim Shaw, Taryn Simon, Jonas Staal, Noam Toran, Suzanne Treister, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Jane and Louise Wilson, Liam Young, and Tamir Zadok.

The exhibition was initiated and conceived by Cristina Ricupero and Alexandra Midal.

A catalog edited by Cristina Ricupero, Alexandra Midal and Katharina Dohm (Schirn) has been published in an English/German edition. It includes a foreword by Philipp Demandt and essays by Jörg Heiser, Jelena Martinovic, Marina Otero Verzier, Cristina Ricupero, Noam Toran, and Wladimir Velminski as well as facsimiles of previously published texts by Ulrike Knöfel, Metahaven, Joanna Moorhead and Jonas Staal.

The exhibition We Never Sleep is supported by the City of Frankfurt am Main, and by the Friends of the Schirn Kunsthalle e. V., including members of the Executive Board and the Board of Trustees of the Friends of the Schirn Kunsthalle e. V., and the Mondriaan Fund and the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia.

Director: Dr. Philipp Demandt
Curator: Cristina Ricupero
Press contact: Johanna Pulz (Head of Press/Public Relations): / T (+49 69) 29 98 82 148
Press (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS)

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
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