May 26, 2008 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Terence Koh and Michael Sailstorfer
May 26, 2008

Terence Koh and Michael Sailstorfer

Courtesy Peres Projects, Los Angeles Berlin
copyright the artist

Terence Koh.
Captain Buddha

Michael Sailstorfer.
10 000 Stones

28 May – 31 August 2008

60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49) 69 29 98 82-0
fax: (+49) 69 29 98 82-240
welcome [​at​]

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents the Chinese-Canadian artist Terence Koh and the German artist Michael Sailstorfer in two solo exhibitions.


In an incredibly short time, Terence Koh’s spectacular performances and experientially intensively accessible installations have made him a highly respected “gesamtkunstwerk”. The Chinese-Canadian artist is one of the most fascinating discoveries of recent years. Like no other artist, he transposes influences from post-minimalism and 1970s body art into a cosmos uniquely his own, governed by decadence and deliberate excess, which grants the viewer instants of fragile beauty. Following up on his spectacular installations at the Kunsthalle Zurich, the Wiener Secession and the Whitney Museum in New York, Terence Koh is installing one of his signature monochrome environments especially for the Schirn; for this exhibition, he will initiate the surreal objects, ritually summoning them to life, in a secret performance. Under the title “Captain Buddha”, visitors who set foot in the luminously flooded room are invited to accompany the artist on a journey that will take them on a search for themselves through the entire world – India, China, Burma, Belgium, Africa, Mexico and Canada are just some stations along the way – one that aims to reach nirvana and ends in nothingness.

For his installation at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Koh links two worlds that at first glance seem almost antipodal: Buddhism and that popular classic of world literature, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” – the tale of the fateful quest of charismatic and supremely obsessed Captain Ahab for the Great White Whale. But the two worlds are alike in their descriptions of endless and irresolvable search – a unity conveyed in the title “Captain Buddha”. For this installation, Koh himself set out on a quest: clad as a monk in a golden robe, he journeyed to fifteen places – Canada, Japan, China, Thailand, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Iceland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Africa, and the USA – in his search for objects, much as Captain Ahab sailed the world over in search of the White Whale. In Terence Koh’s words: “I’m like the captain in Moby Dick. I’m trying to find the White Whale in the white objects, but in the end I find nothing.”


Transformations, context shifts, laying claim to space – Michael Sailstorfer’s works rapidly reveal the artist’s interest in everyday objects and the materials of our immediate environment, and his fascination for the specific identity and history of these objects. Sailstorfer subjects his objects to stringent scrutiny; they are dismantled, dissected, deformed, adapted, reassembled in novel forms and rededicated as poetic-realistic installations. In this process, both the space which they take up and the space that surrounds them are of essential significance. Space becomes the battleground for such antagonistic concepts as home(land) and distance, mobility and stasis, motion and the past. The exhibition in the Schirn presents five works that impressively showcase the artist’s poetic, political and ironic vocabulary – among others the large light installation “Untitled (Junger Römer)” (“Untitled (Young Roman)”), which he created especially for the Schirn. The work illuminates the urban space from its “table” – a concrete structure in the Schirn’s exterior space.

Untitled (Junger Römer)” (“Untitled (Young Roman)”), the recreation of an old illuminated sign from the former German Democratic Republic with a rhythmically flashing program, confronts visitors even before they enter the Schirn proper. The title of this powerful, eight-meter-long neon skeleton, erected in a prominent location outside the Schirn, is a play on both the song title “Junge Römer” (“Young Romans”) by the Austrian singer Falco and the neighboring “Römer”, Frankfurt’s historic City Hall. The original of the display, the illuminated sign of a radio manufacturer of the former GDR, may still be glimpsed today as an advertising ruin perched above the rooftops of Berlin’s central Mitte district. For the Schirn, Sailstorfer programmed a cycle that causes his neon creation to flash just as it might have over East Berlin in the days of the GDR. Two circles on a horizontal pattern of lines propagate, wave-like, outward, concluding in a colorful finale of light. This almost psychedelic “quasi-readymade”, bearing the Falco title, emitting radiantly pulsing sound-wave patterns, and sited in the heart of Frankfurt’s old city, undergoes a metamorphosis typical for Sailstorfer: in this work, he links the memory of a tune that evokes the feeling of the 1980s in Germany with the memory of a country that no longer exists to create something new in an entirely different place.


“TERENCE KOH. CAPTAIN BUDDHA”, edited by Martina Weinhart and Max Hollein. With a foreword by Max Hollein and text by Martina Weinhart. German-English, approx. 100 pages, approx. 40 illustrations, soft cover, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, ISBN 978-3-86560-466-8. (Schirn).
“MICHAEL SAILSTORFER. 10 000 STONES”, edited by Matthias Ulrich and Max Hollein. With a foreword by Max Hollein and text by Matthias Ulrich. German-English edition, approx. 70 pages, approx. 45 illustrations, soft cover, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, ISBN 978-3-86560-465-1. (Schirn).

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein

CURATORS: Matthias Ulrich (Michael Sailstorfer), Dr. Martina Weinhart (Terence Koh)

OPENING HOURS: Tue., Fri. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Wed. and Thur. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.


PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik, phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-118, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail:, (texts and images for download under PRESS).

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
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