31.05.2008 Exhibitions

Heterotopia: Works by Willem van Genk and Others

A series of paintings and collages of Willem van Genk is on show in the exhibition ‘Heterotopia’ in the Deutsche Architekturmuseum (DAM) in Frankfurt/Main, from 31 May upto 24 August 2008. info: www.dam-online.de/portal/de/Ausstellungen/Ausstellungen2008

The exhibition’s title “Heterotopia” is taken from Michel Foucault’s famous lecture and essay on “Other Spaces”, written in 1967. In it, the French philosopher outlines an analysis of space. For him, space is neither an abstract continuum nor the neutral coexistence of units, but a spatial situation that is characterized by a complex “assembly of relations.”

“Heterotopias” are thus social places that exist in parallel and possess a changed relational and structural fabric, enclaves in a world, examples being prisons or sanatoriums. The exhibition will present works that can be classified as “Outsider Art”: The creators of the art exist beyond the pale of the established art world, and were exposed to extreme emotional strain or unusual experiences, were systematically excluded or ostracized by society. DAM owns a small collection of outsider artworks, and they will be on show in the exhibition, among others Stefan Häfner’s “Future City” (it has now been expanded to feature three building complexes), Hans-Jörg Georgi’ “Six Storey” cardboard airplane – both have their artistic home in Atelier Goldstein, Frankfurt/Main – and the scroll pictures by Patient N. They are supplemented by pieces by other artists that all have in common that they imagine subjectively shaped living places or world systems: There are the works of Dutch artist Willem van Genk (1927 – 2005), which have inadequately be described as city and machine visions, reminiscent on the one hand of Dada, Pop Art, collage and comics, and, on the other, conveying much of the explosive force which the artist brought to bear in their creation. Then there is the entrancing kingdom of “Monera”, at which Dutch artist Gerard van Lankveld continues to work to this day. From the early 20th century Heidelberg Prinzhorn Collection come the sheets from Josef Heinrich Grebing’s trading empire and Joseph Schneller’s “Villa Laube” pieces. The “Heterotopia” is a version of the “Schets of Schim. Intuitive Architectuur” (“Intuitive Architecture. Sketch or Madness), presented in 2007 as part of the Time Festival Gent in Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent, and revised specially for the DAM. Originally, the outsider works were shown in the context of historical architectural visions that were in large part taken from the DAM Collection – a method that has now been deliberately avoided. Precisely the DAM context of non-outsider art highlights works that would otherwise be subjected to a rigid distinction between accepted art and non-accepted outsider art. The imaginative power of the works on show tackles the major challenge facing architecture – to create a built “shell” for the world that is in harmony with the subjective desires of its inhabitants.