Art Spotted Somewhere Else

Rather than to give art a framework and a language that translates it into value, curator and artist Lucie Freynhagen dismantles the language of the art market by questioning the way of how and where art is exhibited and distributed. Lucie is cofounder and codirector of the C. Rockefeller Center for the contemporary Arts, Dresden.

C. Rockefeller is flirting with subculture. Rockefeller grew out of the post–1990s anti-establishment atmosphere of Dresden’s Neustadt. With a DIY approach C. Rockefeller built a communal space for the arts and artists, including an exhibition space, studio spaces, and an apartment for friends to stay. This way of doing things can be described in the words of artist and curator Chris Kraus: In her essay collection Where Art Belongs, she points out that art belongs »somewhere else,« besides the »poetics of marketing.« Schlosspost selected three projects by Freynhagen where the art can be spotted somewhere else, beyond institutionally secured spaces: DISPLA(Y)CED was an international exhibition on billboards in the city of Dresden, where for a short period billboards were not advertising new housing developments, or online dating apps, but instead giving a display to the powerless – namely artists and migrants. The exhibition format INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS aims to create situations in which an artistic work can immediately be detected as commodity and as a tool for the capitalization in the art market system. The image series, Aggressive Representation (GVCCI), by Freynhagen itself, attempts to playfully encode ruling systems and trademark-oriented artistic production.

»The established artistic forms of reflection and criticism are no longer effective because capitalism itself is an aesthetic, innovative, and critical form. « Armen Avanessian


Through institutionally secured and routine acts of selecting, arranging and staging the exhibits, meaning is produced, power is exerted, discourses are communicated and history is written, even dispositives are formed when one wants to land at Foucault. The display is therefore in close relation to the not-on-display or not-to-be-displayed. It thus becomes an inevitable expression of a power gesture or a confession of powerlessness. In doing so, what is not shown or is not supposed to be shown is displayed after all – which in turn could also be consciously reflected and addressed.

In the exhibition format DISPLA(Y)CED, however, the focus is on investigating and determining the structural invisibility of various shifts, escape movements, and displacements. For the display, a screen in public space was chosen – the place of the highest nonspecific attention. DISPLA(Y)CED thus demonstrates a strong commitment to the present and the effective surfaces of everyday life and seems determined to be an arena for serious debate, beyond the simplifying surfaces and reductions, to unfold the conditions and circumstances in the present and to make visible what is often invisible. It even seems as if DISPLA(Y)CED insists that the museum of the present is that of the street.

Stefan Stark, OFFM Public Art Panels, Frankfurt a. M., 2015
Carmen Loch, Dresden Public Art View, Dresden, 2014
Pawel Kowzan, Dresden Public Art View, Dresden, 2014
Laurent Lacotte, 2minago, Düsseldorf, 2018
Karina Pais, Dresden Public Art View, Dresden, 2014
Otto Snoek, DISPLA(Y)CED, Dresden, 2017
VIGILANTE, Dresden Public Art View, Dresden, 2014
Josephine Käppelin, OFFM Public Art Panels, Frankfurt a. M., 2015
Andrea Darsie, DISPLA(Y)CED, Dresden, 2017
Matt Sieber, Dresden Public Art View, Dresden, 2014
Julia Boswank, OFFM Public Art Panels, Frankfurt a. M., 2015

There, where thousands of displays of the same size constantly compete for our attention are the contemporary platforms of display and unfolding, where people and topics can meet eye to eye. DISPLA(Y)CED prompts participants to use the public common ground to form everyday discourses or to allow some things »not on display« to become a display and to reverse the conditions at least temporarily and »display back« where we otherwise only need to look. Fortunately, precisely this is already happening. The young artists, whether on display or off display, have long since become independent from the common dichotomies and abandoned the tradition of showing for the benefit of an agency. As long as OFFLINE remains so resistant to innovation, and the eternally same coterie remains at the gates, ONLINE will be more attractive, more utopian, wilder, more beautiful and better than the damn grey, rainy physical world with all its laws. DISPLA(Y)CED now makes a serious proposal to leave this separation behind, to use the available possibilities and tools, and to come together to identify further potential for development.

The exhibition format DISPLA(Y)CED curated by Lucie Freynhagen was realized during the Dresden Public Art View in Dresden in 2014, in collaboration with Svenja Wichmann; OFFM – Public Art Panels, Frankfurt am Main in 2015, in collaboration with Max Eulitz and Philipp Grünewald; as a self-organized, independent, public exhibition, DISPLA(Y)CED, Dresden, 2017, in collaboration with Svenja Wichmann; and within the scope of DUESSELDORFPHOTO, 2minago, Düsseldorf, 2018, in collaboration with Svenja Wichmann.

The text DISPLAY – DISPLACED was written by Konstanze Schütze for DISPLA(Y)CED, Dresden, which took place from August 8–18 2017. Works by following artist were included: Alexander Endrullat, Andrea Böning, Andrea D‘Arsiè, Andreas Ullrich, Anne Müller, Antje Seeger, Barbara Haiduck, Daniel Hoffmann, Devadeep Gupta, Eric Mayen, Fares Garabet, Frauke Thielking, Jens Gerber, Jonas Lewek & Moritz Liebig, Lotte Dohmen, Ludwig Kupfer, Luc Saalfeld, Magnus Bjerk, Manuel Frolik, Markus Jäger & Onuk Bernhard Schmitt, Max Eulitz, Michael Merkel, Oliver Herrmann, Otto Snoek, Pit Kinzer, Samer Eid, Sergey Poteryaev, Siegfried Michael Wagner, Stephan Groß, Sung Tieu, Sven Bergelt, Sven Piadya, Tony Franz, Wael Al Wareeth, Yuri Mechitov, Yvonne Most


»What is happening here? Is your wildest dream coming true or did normality just start to crack? I feel it fade. We probably got lost in simultaneity. Again. Time has come to regain the frameless real. Let’s act out and conquer the online.«

INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS is a format created in Dresden and originally conceived for the exhibition space. It involves various international artists and selected works at the interface of contemporary art, fashion, theory, consumption, and performance. Fundamental themes of INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS are on the one hand the artistic work as a commodity and its capitalization in the art market system and on the other hand the investigation and further development of curatorial practice in the form of artistic editions, which are conceived as context- and site-specific complete works. In terms of content, the project connects to the Situationists of 1960 and their concept of the »theoretical and practical production of situations.« Under the overall heading INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS, various exhibition formats have been realized since 2016, which deal artistically with the respective location and its circumstances in a context-sensitive way and thereby sound out show and art practice in a multilayered way. The square, the actors and the works of art involved form the basis for the format conceived and the overall artistic message.

In February 2017, the second exhibition concept INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS – REAL TIME SYSTEMS was placed in Los Angeles with several interventions in urban space, which transformed everyday life into an exhibition space and city dwellers into protagonists. Eighteen selected works of art, some of which were produced for this issue, influenced everyday reality as disturbances, brighteners or thought-provoking impulses and were put to the test of »real qualities« in urban space and outside the secured art canon. The exhibition format used reality as an artistic medium and focused on a humanistic, political and artistic presence with the works used.

The project initiators are a collective of artists from the field of media art. In addition to INTERNATIONAL TOPSELLERS, they are also the initiators of »Public Art Panels« and »New Scenario« as well as operators of the exhibition spaces »C. Rockefeller Center for the contemporary Arts« (since 2010) and »S T O R E contemporary« (2010–2016).

Selling Out is the new Keeping It Real

For some time now, contemporary art has been spelling out remix, mash-up, quote, plagiarism, manipulation and live stream with almost athletic ambitions and equally skillful lightfootedness. Every material, every idea, every (artistic) utterance can become an impulse for one’s own work, readymade so to speak and ready for further application – just click and apply. One prefers to swim along, surfing on carefully adapted trend waves, rather than to struggle against the current. The belief in the power of traditional forms of criticism has long since been absorbed into management discourses and the advertising industry.

In the words of Armen Avenessian: »The established artistic forms of reflection and criticism are no longer effective because capitalism itself is an aesthetic, innovative, and critical form. Anonymous masks and Che Guevara T-shirts? Bestsellers. A finely tuned staging machinery markets all imaginable fictions, sells audacity over car brands, sells masculinity as an Axe-effect, and presses rebellion into cigarette packets and hair tubes. Branding offers itself as a useful reduction of complexity in unmanageable presences: brands become feelings, become attitudes, become facial expressions, become gestures, become expectations about the future, promises of happiness and consumable ideas about authenticity and reality, which in turn can be translated into brands.«

The text Selling Out is the new Keeping It Real was written by Kristin Klein