The exhibition is an encounter between the works of two artists from different generations, who never met personally although both had been living in Berlin. Rolf Julius, who was born in 1939 in Wilhelmshaven and died in 2011 in Berlin, worked in the tradition of a "music for eyes and ears." However, Nina Canell, born in 1979 in Sweden, belongs to a younger generation of artists whose three-dimensional work has an emphatically non-monumental quality.
With an acute sense for the inherent potential contained within ordinary objects and natural materials as well as for the placement of objects within a space, both artists manage to give their arrangements an energetic charge. For Rolf Julius an expanded notion of music served as a frame of reference: "Music is everywhere / music is everywhere / you must hear music / music is under the stones / there where it is damp / music is in the cracks in the wall / for your eyes / you can scrape it out carefully / for your tongue / it is sticky / it is bone dry / for your ass / it is moist / it crumbles / for bare feet / yes, your feet can hear music." Nina Canell, in contrast, is particularly interested in the physical and poetic characteristics of the objects and found items that she works with. "I like the tactile quality and the knowledge stored within. These are things that we understand. What they can be used for, how they feel, how heavy they are. There is nothing mysterious about the objects themselves, and this once again opens up a sense for their symbolic capacities."
Works from both artists are included in the collection of the Nationalgalerie and are being shown here together in an exhibition for the first time as a means of illuminating the parallels and differences between the two practices. Each in his or her own way, both artists know how to invoke the silent magic of the fleeting and the instable.