Jeremiah Day, Renée Green, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Megan Francis Sullivan and the winners of the Daniel Frese Prize 2013, Gilta Jansen & Gordon Castellane and Daniela Töbelmann & Carola Keitel
Cultural foundation Agathenburg Castle near Stade and Hamburg

Artistic recourses on history follow today subjective processes of negotiation and more open logics. After the fall of the cognitive monopoly of historiography over a universally valid idea of »history«, and the reassessment of artistic contributions connected to that-especially in the framework of a development of a »cultural memory«-a new constellation can be discerned: an artistic orientation towards the past no longer takes a corrective approach, a search for the »accurate« or »other accurate« narrative. Instead, there is an attempt through retrospection to visualize and examine alleged (un)certainties about the past within the present. This includes reflecting on the complexity of memory formation, and its entwinement with internal and external worlds, imaginations, and materialities. In this sense, such works amount to more than historic poses. Rather, historiography and poetry, fact and fiction, archival finds and creation go hand in hand in artistic productions, allowing for insights into their alternating conditionalities. Against this background, the exhibition Some Issues of History assumes less the position of »Artist as Historian,« as proposed some years ago by Mark Godfrey, who above all are concerned with historic documentation. Rather, artistic practices are presented that are partially based on archival research and utilize methods resembling those employed by historians, yet only as their points of departure. What is characteristic of the exhibited approaches is much more their poetic abstraction of themes associated with history. The chosen methods and aesthetics of the artworks speak to the viewer on a level that may be affective and shaped by theatrical allusions.

In his installation and performance »The Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness« (2012), Jeremiah Day deals with the fall of the US-American Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s publicised political repression and the unconstitutional acquisition of private data by intelligence services. Due to the connection to the highly topical unveiling of global practices of observation and espionage, this work prompts one to consider the continuities between the past and present. While the installation integrates archival material, Day's performance gives a fragmentary account of the events and by means of dance sequences lends the alternatingly poetic and prosaic oral history a specific urgency.

In correspondence with the exhibition venue, which is steeped in history, Gilta Jansen and Gordon Castellane present the extensive and walkable installation »Times Timing Times« (2013), a stage-like mise-en-scène composed of movables, letterings, reflecting foils and textiles dramatised by means of a light choreography. In a metaphorical sense, the work functions as a narratively charged storage for memories and stories that affect the viewer walking through the installation. This opens up an aesthetic space of possibilities in which imagined collective and private narratives dovetail in an associative and poetic manner.

The starting point of Megan Francis Sullivan's work »Road Trip« (2013) is a memory of a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a school child, where the enormous painting Horse Fair (1853-1855) by French artist Rosa Bonheur deeply impressed her. Years later, Sullivan took a road trip across the country to view another work of Bonheur, a portrait of Buffalo Bill (1889), which hangs in Cody, Wyoming. For the exhibit, Sullivan repeats Bonheur's work, deliberately implying abstractions and differences. Anachronistic aspects like proximity, self-invention, and adventure emerge like spectres. The gesture of using an over-size canvas-once a medium for history paintings-additionally marks the mediatization and implementation of history that has undergone an irrevocable change over time.

The artists Daniela Töbelmann and Carola Keitel present several works from the large-scale project they are realising in the both contemporaneously and historically staged Hanseatic City of Lüneburg. The performative »Walking to Waikiki. See and Go - an Exhibition and a Stroll« (2013) is grasped as a complex examination of different-alienated, rediscovered, touristic, everyday and novel-views of public space. The found structures are regarded as experienceable relics of the social and geographical history of places, thus leading to an aesthetic and socially oriented perspective on history.

The collages and drawings of Renée Green's multimedia body of works, »Endless Dreams and Water Between« (2009)-commissioned by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich-refer to supertemporal phenomena, desires and fears. Sensations, perceptions and internal images intertwine with different stories, places and people surrounded by water. Lines of words reminiscent of concrete poetry share the pictorial space with figures of George Sand and the island of Majorca, a typology of the dramaturge Georges Polti, as well as private letters that address the themes of memory and history for their part. The works span a range from lyrical-literary to melancholic perspectives on historical issues.

While the multipart slide projection »Never Land« (2008) unfolds and orchestrates the documentation of 'failed moments' the artist found in a local Cypriot newspaper archive and thus lets sceneries become suspicious, a very picturesque atmosphere is recorded in Christodoulos Panayiotou's work »Sunrise (1 October 2010, 6.15)« (2010). This photograph depicts bathers on the coast of the city of Limassol imbued in golden, early morning light. The lyrical motif might evoke a moment of longing. But those familiar with the country's history will notice that the date in the Sunrise title designates the fiftieth anniversary of the Cyprian independence day from Great Britain. In the light of the country's political instability lasting until today, it lends the pacifying effect of the picture a melancholic and hollow aftertaste.

— Cornelia Kastelan, Valérie Knoll

Admission to the opening is free of charge.

27 October - 01 December 2013

Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 6 pm
Performance by Jeremiah Day »The Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness«, 6:30 pm

Agathenburg Castle
D-21684 Agathenburg (near Stade and Hamburg)

Hours: Tues-Fri 2-6pm, Sat-Sun and holidays 11am-6pm

Film screening »Endless Dreams and Water Between«
(Renée Green, 74 min., English, 2009) and guided tour through the exhibition »Some Issues of History«

Sat 30/11/2013, 5pm
Cultural foundation Agathenburg Castle
Hauptstraße 45, D-21684 Agathenburg near Hamburg and Stade,
Directions: S3 from Hamburg, direction Stade, station Agathenburg

The exhibition »Some Issues of History« presents works by Jeremiah Day, Renée Green, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Megan Francis Sullivan and the winners of the Daniel Frese Prize 2013, Gilta Jansen and Gordon Castellane, as well as Daniela Töbelmann and Carola Keitel, who in different ways deal with the past, with memory and history. While research and archival work form the basis of their artistic practices and thus in part approximate the methods of historians, they only mark a point of departure. The featured approaches are instead characterised by their poetic abstraction of themes associated with history: historiography and poetry, fact and fiction, archival findings and creation go hand in hand in artistic production and therefore allow insights into their reciprocal conditionality.
Following the guided tour, the film »Endless Dreams and Water Between« (74 min., English, 2009) by René Green will be screened. Collages by the artist from the eponymous set of multimedia works are on view in the exhibition: sequences of words reminiscent of concrete poetry share the image spaces with views of George Sand and the island of Majorca, excerpts from a story by the writer, a typology of the dramaturge Georges Polti, as well as fictitious letters that are concerned with memory and history. These collages are now supplemented by the presentation of another element from this group of works, an experimental fiction film, the indexical core of this complex installation.

In thirteen chapters, a fictive dialogue unfolds in the form of a correspondence between the characters Aria, Lyn, Mar and Raya. Permeated by quotes, the film’s orientation towards language is expanded by images that never seek to represent. Instead, the images, like language, revolve around something absent that remains intangible yet is present all the same – in imaginations, memories, repetitions and associations. The starting point of the exchange is the travelogue »A Winter in Majorca « by George Sand (1839), which additionally serves as the occasion for examinations that are to be undertaken in the future in an independent annual research retreat called »The September Institute«. The protagonists’ places of residence – e.g., Majorca, Manhattan or Yerba Buena on San Francisco Bay, which as islands or peninsulas are surrounded by at once separating and connecting seas – are also reflected upon in regard to their geographical, historical and mythical location. When Aria in the beginning states that »It was a dream that brought me to action«, this attribution of an activating force to dreams that exemplifies the web of lines connecting our inner and outer realities.

— Cornelia Kastelan, Valérie Knoll

The exhibition is based on a cooperation of KIM, Innovation Incubator of Leuphana University of Lüneburg with Agathenburg Castle. The Innovation Incubator Lüneburg is an EU major project, financed by the European Regional Development Fund and co-funded by the federal state of Lower Saxony.