The Goethe-Institut New York is proud to announce Künstlerhaus Stuttgart as the third partner to collaborate with its satellite exhibition space for contemporary art, Ludlow 38, on the Lower East Side. After the Kunstverein München and the European Kunsthalle Cologne, the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (founded in 1978) represents another institutional model, coming from the German context, initially based on artistic self-organization. For the first exhibition, curators Axel Wieder and Tobi Maier present works of artists that originates from diverse socio-political investigations and creates a tension between abstraction and concrete social circumstances. Abstract Derive departs from an earlier commission of New York based artist Cristóbal Leyht at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in 2008, for which the artist produced a large-scale model of the city of Stuttgart and portraits of its citizens that approach the question of subjectivity through the practice of drawing. This was used as a point of reference to create a group show investigating questions related to the specificity of site and the politics of abstraction, as an attempt to mediate a relationship between history and representation.
In his work, Kasper Akhøj questions the significance of design within our communities. In 2006, the artist took part in a research project that consisted of a journey to follow Tito’s motorway project - the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity - from the 1940s and 1950s. A year later Akhøj followed the route from Skopje to Ljubljana and discovered the Abstracta display system, dating from about 1960 and designed by Danish architect Poul Cadovius. Different versions of the system had traveled to the Balkans and over the time became an easily adjustable and portable structure for the presentation of goods in a variety of contexts. Akhøj has traced these journeys and presents a version of Abstracta at Ludlow 38.
Judith Raum’s historical and geographically specific research about the business relationships and cultural knowledge transfer between the German and the Ottoman empire is the subject of a new video machine subjectivity (15 min., 2010), which depicts static shots of wooden handlooms, accompanied by a voiceover. Using images from different handlooms in Germany and Turkey, the video triggers ideas about the production of subjectivity and self-empowerment, demonstrated here in the working ethos of home weavers and their entrepreneurial risk that is based on improvisation. A series of three self-made booklets featuring visual essays from Raums’s research and conversations between the artist and Alice Creischer, Rahel Jaeggi and Suhail Malik have been reproduced for the show.
Dave Hullfish Bailey is interested in models of self-organization and a decentralized do-it-yourself approach to design. In his work, he reconstructs and readapts found projects and initiatives and develops them further, imagining their possible future and using them to open speculative scenarios about individual freedom and communal living. Translating them into cultural representations, often in the form of models or photos, he carefully reconsiders the way in which social issues are addressed and formulated in cultural contexts. The photos from the series Working approximation of a conventional form, re-determined by prevailing conditions (2007/2009) show the library of Slab City, an ad hoc squatters’ camp in the California desert. Bailey used compass points to determine the camera angles, creating an abstract descriptive system. A second work is a library-bound copy of Bailey's recent book What's left (which also includes his research on Slab City), underlining the materiality of information.
In Mariana Castillo Deball’s video Entropology (8 min., 2008), a voice-over tells the story of a mineralogist working at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, creating minerals that don't exist in nature. The video consists of images from the CERN in the 1950s and the collection of stones gathered by the French intellectual Roger Caillois, who was searching for an order of things that includes but it is not restricted to human knowledge. Caillois proposes a way of thinking about the world not limited to disciplines or literary genres, but a way to reflect on the world by making unusual connections.
The idea for human interaction is reoccurring in much of Jarbas Lopes’ work. His projects are often open-ended and rely on audience participation. Lopes is interested in chance and the tension between materials on the one hand and their interaction with individuals on the other hand. In recent years Lopes has used bungee cords of varying colors for a series of works whose overlaps create an object that is both aesthetic and functional. Derived from casual group experiments taking place during journeys through New York, the work presented here originally served as a model for a larger interactive square sculpture but now resembles a crown or mask.
Manuel Raeder uses typography and images in his work to present information in a way that is not determined by its design, but remains open towards multiple readings. As part of his practice, Raeder is currently researching the history of Concrete Poetry, particularly in South America. He is interested in open systems of language, comparing them to architectural works as Lina Bo Bardi's buildings in Brazil. For Abstract Derive, Raeder will produce a printed poster that developed from this research.