– 24. September 2017
The immediacy with which we turn to images of colourful flower children, rainbow-colored peace symbols and white doves shows how superficially we engage with the issue of peace when we have to think about the concept. Until 24 September, both within the space of Schirn and outside it, the exhibition “Peace” seeks to distance itself from all stereotypes associated with ‘peace’ and approaches a topic that is omnipresent in our society, but still doesn’t receive much focus.
“Peace” brings together the works of twelve international artists, who differ strongly in their approaches, the media they use, as well as in their perspectives. Three motifs work as connecting elements, as they guide the visitor through the exhibition in three separate narrative strands: First, is the ‘gift’ - achieved by passing something on from one person to the next.
The resulting movement is conceptually supplemented by the motif of the ‘detour’. We generally accept that detours extend our knowledge of a place, but they also make the goal that was our original focus of attention, less important, and instead the path itself becomes our priority. By taking detours, we are forced to engage with our surroundings. This leads on to the third motif – the ‘connection’ between a person and their direct and indirect environments. The multimedia performance “Occasions” by the Berlin-based artist Isabel Lewis makes connections. A room full of scattered seating and plants becomes a place of rest and encounter. When you open the door, you encounter the artist in a variety of ways: you can listen to the music she has composed and enjoy the fragrances wafting about the room, created specifically for “Occasions” in collaboration with the scent researcher Sissel Tolaas. On some days, special drinks and menus are served and Lewis sings and dances for those present. The various elements of “Occasions”, together with the visitors, are transformed into a choreographed piece, created by the participants.
Detours are, inter alia, driven by the work of Ed Fornieles “Sim Vol. 1: Existential Risk”. A virtual role-play confronting players with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios, presents them with shifting and unpredictable possibilities. By playing out these scenarios, players get the chance to reinvent the conventions of society and test their own social rules and their consequences.
The significance of the ‘gift’ is most evident in the work of Surasi Kusolwong. “Golden Ghost (Welcome Back the Spirits)” is an interactive performance that goes beyond space of the museum and not only actively involves visitors to the museum, but also passers-by in the city. The work is divided into two parts: the first part is a space filled with industrial textile waste. Hidden among this waste are six gold necklaces, which the lucky finder can keep. However, you quickly forget the actual goal of finding the necklaces as soon as you fall into the soft heaps of balls of wool and textiles. In the second part of the work, additional necklaces are hidden in the Bockenheimer Grünanlage, a park. Whether or not the necklaces will ever be found depends on how attentive passers-by are. However, if you start specifically looking for the necklaces, you are inevitably confronted with details of urban life that are often overlooked. Among the plants are traces of poverty, drug use and a lot of leftover litter and rubbish – demanding a new engagement with your direct environment.
To open up to the environment and connect with it, to accept detours, rather than focus on efficiency, to give instead of trading – “Peace” succeeds in communicating possibilities for a life with and in peace through unusual approaches. Anyone who embraces the ideas behind the individual works will be rewarded with new visions of our world. You can find further ideas online in Schirn Magazine, which, in addition to interviews with some artists, also offers further texts and commentaries that go well beyond the content of the exhibition. The visit leaves you wishing for the discussion on peace to continue, with clearer conclusions and direct connections to our current situation.