Two years ago, at the peak of the coronavirus crisis, human contact was globally reduced to a minimum, probably for the first time in history. The imposed, albeit necessary, isolation influenced every aspect of our lives, every decision, every opportunity. Today, despite the virus not being entirely obliviated, humanity is recovering, turning to what we missed the most during isolation – real social life.
Especially affected by the isolation, among other fields of human activity, there was the art world, desperately dependent on people, both the ones who make it live and the ones who sustain it. Virtual exhibitions tried to bridge the gap, yet art is not only to be viewed, but experienced, which is exactly what was lacking during that time.
Following such an artless period, it was logical that we need an extra dose of creativity in our lives once the art fairs started happening, which is one of the underlying threads of the spacial show at this year’s DAF Frankfurt called “Immersive Experiences”. Through it, we are not only invited to view the art, but to interact with it, to immerse ourselves in it, to become one with the artwork, complementing the artist’s idea and filling that art-thirsty hole once again. Curated by Marc von Reth, this segment of the art fair brought a selection of museum-quality pieces, awakening our senses by invoking humor, curiosity, and imagination.
Through the Special Show with Marc von Reth
Wanting to know more about the show, I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by Marc von Reth, who explained the idea behind the concept and each piece, as we had great fun interacting with art.
Upon entering the art fair hall, we are welcomed by an odd contraption, a portal-like machine resembling a vintage orthopeadic device. It is Jenny Brockmann’s “Hug”, a well-known piece from 2007, inspired by the most basic human needs – “to be touched, hugged and embraced”. Such an intuitive opening sets the tone of the special show, a spectacle designed to stimulate, entertain and re-humanize the art viewing experience.
Moving through the exhibition, our senses got further stirred, delving deep into our childhood, ideas about human collaboration, collective visual histories, curiosity, playfulness and humor. To balance on Jenny Brockmann’s “Seat #12”, you will need an agreeing partner, to view Micha Kuball’s “making of Mnemosyne (after Aby Warburg)”, you can live through the history of aesthetics and art, and Markus Butkereit’s “Suspension – Saltation – Reptation” will make you feel as if you were in a mad scientist’s laboratory wondering if the whole thing will explode at some point. Right next to it, there sits a vintage car, poured over into reality from a painting by Karen Shahverdyan and further enhanced by two masterful sound artists who give a new life to the works by the means of sound.
Visual Experiences Enhanced with Sound
“We occupy these works,” Daniel Wolff and Sebastian Welker told me, as they continue to browse inspirational pieces to connect with a special sound application that allows the viewer to hear the work through headphones, while viewing. “People first think about vision, looking when it comes to art. But we forget that sound can be art too,” Max von Reth continues in their stead, as we chatted about their ideas and the possible applications of their software. Indeed, once connected with a sound, a visual piece enters a multidimentional plane of existence, and the viewer is absorbed into it. Wolff’s and Welker’s sound software removes the usual confinements of this experience, connecting it to a broad range of artworks, applicable in different spaces and situations.
As we proceeded, the curator introduced me to the virtual reality room by Simon Tretter and a curious view on art preservation in the exhibition-within-exhibition-like installation by TŘČ & TMŠ. My imagination got wonderfully tickled by weird gadgets by Konrad Wallmeier, as INS-Institut für Inszenierung by Sabine Reibeholz and Marc von Reth presented a peculiar, vintage room, with an oracle and a very contemporary social critique, concerning the absurdity of badly conceptualized activism.
With my vision, imagination, historical knowledge, curiosity, hearing and emotions awoken, we then got to the installation by Sabine Schäfer and Rosemarie Vollmer, a piece representing a beautiful unity between art and science, delivering the sounds of bats through a special technology.
Art is About Play and Interaction
Like a small engaging museum show in its own, the DAF Frankfurt special exhibition ends with three playful pieces. One is a preformative skyscraper reconstruction by Siggi Hofer called “Frankfurt 2022”, growing throughout the duration of the fair an echo of the surrounding Frankfurt skyscrapers, and corresponding well with the dynamic images by Jan Glismann who recorded the demolition of the Deutsche Welle tower in Cologne.
Finally, one of the most intriguing pieces is the one by Ralf Kopp. Imagined as a social experiment, the artist arranged the words TRUTH inside the exhibition hall and a German version WAHRHEIT outside of it, in the street, made entirely of 1-cent coins. Each of the pieces containing several hundred euros in real money, it coincides with the present moment perfectly, questioning the way in which we view art, our behavior in relation to it, our needs and our priorities. The piece will be exposed on the floor, but available for destruction. In fact, WAHRHEIT was collected by an unknown person on the opening evening of the fair, and what will happen to the TRUTH, we are yet to see.
Personally, I doubt the visitors will show the same greed within the exhibition hall. But just for the fun of it, I just might let an artwork treat me with a cup of coffee, to see how it feels.
As we reached the end of the special show, I’ve felt as if I’ve been to an all-senses-spa. My perception sharpened, my vision expanded, my thoughts provoked. After such a cathartic experience, I was left thinking about how great my personal needs were when it came to art and how we can all benefit from immersing into it all over again, without barriers and in person.
Special show at the Discovery Art Fair Frankfurt 2022 will be on display through November 6, 2022. All exhibited pieces are offered for sale.