Past Exhibition

Reality and Fiction

What is reality, what is fiction? This question is approached by the exhibition at Villa Schöningen, which begins on May 1, 2013. On display will be works by 13 international artists who have dealt in different ways with themes such as reality, perception, identity formation and deception. The thematic exhibition will feature works in the genres of painting, photography, design and video art.

The spectrum of works on display ranges from explorations of the patterns of perception and cognition (Thomas Demand, Christoph Keller, Walid Raad) to procedures of constructing reality (Beate Gütschow, Julian Rosefeldt), to explorations of fictional personalities (Dirk Dietrich Hennig, Nat Tate), to unexpected interactions between reality and fiction (Jakob Boeskov, Mikael Mikael, Ora-Ïto) and the political-economic dimension of fictionalizing reality (Jeremy Deller, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, The Yes Men).

The exhibition was curated by Friedrich von Borries.

Jakob Boeskov (1973, DK), works primarily in the media of drawing, painting and film. In 2002, together with an industrial designer, he developed the ID Sniper rifle, a mock-up of a weapon that shoots GPS chips under the victim’s skin. At a Chinese arms fair, Boeskov received a number of inquiries from police, arms dealers and politicians. At the Qatar arms fair, the film shown in the exhibition was shot.

Jeremy Deller (1966, GB) deals primarily with the practices of popular culture in videos, installations and social sculptures. In 2001, he staged a reenactment of the Battle of Orgreave – a violent confrontation between striking miners and police officers that took place in 1984 in Orgreave, England – with hundreds of participants.

Thomas Demand (1964, DE) makes cardboard models of famous crime scenes for his works, photographs them, and then destroys them. Junior Suite from 2012 refers to a photo widely circulated in the media of the table at which singer Whitney Houston had her last meal before her death.
Beate Gütschow (1970, DE) photographer, works primarily with image fragments and image montage. In the exhibition “Reality and Fiction” her work LS#7 can be seen.

Dirk Dietrich Hennig (1967, DE) works with the approach of “history intervention”: he invents fictitious artist personalities and produces works under their names – including George Cup & Steve Elliott. The duo’s film The connection between form and sound #15 was shown at London’s Tate in 2010 without the curators being aware of the actual creator.

Christoph Keller (1967, DE) explores in his work the means and possibilities of science and its fringes. For the Cloudbuster Project (since 2003) he reconstructed the cloudbuster of the psychoanalyst and sexual theorist Wilhelm Reich, and, according to Keller himself, has been able to observe changes in weather conditions during various experiments.

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (1961, ES), works on topics such as technology, climate, and immigration, often in collaboration with lay people and experts from other disciplines. The installation Phantom Truck (2007) gives real form to the fictional weapons laboratories that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell cited as justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Mikael Mikael (1974, DE) works on themes of security, surveillance and retreat. For the series Show You Are Not Afraid, he photographs posters of the New York mayor’s post 9/11 statement at sites of terror. In 2012, the poster was used by Israeli women expressing solidarity with an Egyptian blogger.

Ora-Ïto (1977, FR) develops products for brands such as Citroen, Artemide and adidas with his design studio. He became known in 1999 with the Back Up Louis Vuitton backpack and the Hackmac laptop, unauthorized products with the logos of Vuitton and Apple that were never produced but met with great demand.

Walid Raad (1967, RL) became known as the creator of the fictional Atlas Group, which documents and edits the recent history of Lebanon. Since 2007, he has been concerned with the history and current inflation of art in the Arab world and its intertwining with the region’s conflicts. For the series Preface to the Second Edition (2012), Raad photographed the reflections that the paintings in the Doha Art Museum create on the floor, hoping, Raad says, that the reflections would transfer from his photographs to the paintings themselves.

Julian Rosefeldt (1965, DE) mainly realizes video installations that analyze and reveal the stereotypes and careless repetitions of popular culture. For American Night (2009) he shot Western scenes that fulfill and make visible the genre-typical narrative modes, but also cite other formats such as politics, pop song and feature film.

Nat Tate (1929–1960, US), fictional artist and protagonist of the novel Nat Tate. An American Artist: 1928–1960 by William Boyd. The book premiere was staged as a tribute to a real but unjustly forgotten artist. The art community initially fell for it. The exhibition includes the Tate painting Study for White Building.

The Yes Men (artist duo and network, US) operate and publish under someone else’s name and look to reveal the truth about the companies, media and government institutions thus hacked. After the election of President Obama in 2008, they publish a New York Times Special Edition that contained only desirable news, e.g.: “IRAQ WAR ENDS”.


Friedrich von Borries (*1974) teaches design theory and curatorial practice at the HFBK Hamburg. With his Berlin “Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries” he works both theoretically and practically in the border area of art, design and architecture.

»FRAUEN« in Conversation

Current exhibition

The exhibition “Michael Schmidt »Frauen« in Conversation” presents the image series “Women” by the Berlin photographer Michael Schmidt, who died in 2014. The entire series, consisting of 81 analog black-and-white photographs, is shown in the context of works by twelve female artists of different generations. Schmidt’s view of a generation of women is complemented by the artists’ perspectives, on the female body, sometimes their own.

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