State of Union

State of Union

Freies Museum Berlin, Germany, 2011.

Participating Artists: Christian Aberle (D), Gilles Barbier (F), Barbara Breitenfellner (A), Damien Cadio (F), Eric Corne (F), Julia Cottin (F), Martin Dammann (D), Damien Deroubaix (F), Marcel van Eeden (NL), Richard Fauguet (F), Heike Gallmeier (D), Sandra Vasquez de la Horra (Chile), Julie Laignel (F), Audrey Nervi (F), Mael Nozahic (F), Arnaud Rochard (F), Souche (F), Barthélémy Toguo (Kamerun), Yannick Vey (F), Katharina Ziemke (D)

The title « State of the Union » refers to the annual speech of the President of the United States of America, which describes the current state of the nation and prospects for the future. It presents governmental structures and decisions in a positive light, whether democratic or not. In contrast, the exhibiting artists, not trying to gloss over the reality at issue as the U.S. government, work on scratching through the ironic high-gloss world of politics to reveal the hypocrisy of the prevailing political situation.

In the group exhibition, 21 international artists on three floors of the Freies Museum Berlin, present their views on the current political and social condition of our world. The artist Damien Deroubaix has shared with the culture journalist Conny Becker that for the Berlin show he selected above all French commentary on current world events. In addition to presenting young and emerging artists he also works with artists from even more prestigious positions, but so far only a few of them are well-known in Germany.

Entering the space, the visitor is greeted with the installation « Kraut Crowd » (2008) by Martin Dammann, showing wallpaper with the motif of group photos of soldiers from the German Armed Forces. With their larger than life smiles, they produce an eerie mood. Seemingly less threatening, drawings by Marcel van Eeden, reminiscent of movie sequences, refer to our constructed reality. The burnt house by Eric Corne or the scorched palms of Julie Cottin confront the viewer’s physical presence and request a response.

While he describes the status of the ground floor as quite disastrous, Damien Deroubaix appears to take the works on the two upper floors as more ironic about the current situation. These relate to the political attitude and the consumer behavior of the viewer and the manner with which one perceives problems in his immediate environment.

The exhibition is seen as an introduction of contemporary art from France to the Berlin audience. Artists in corresponding positions from Berlin were also invited, to complement the work of the French artists.