SHOTS AND CIRCULAR ARGUMENTS
Dieter Huber, Herlinde Koelbl and Jens Umbach
26 May to 16 September 2018
Opening: 25 May at 6 p.m.
The artists will be in attendance.
Violence and war are expressions of conflict that have defined human civilisations from the beginning. As aggression and expansion or defence and armament, they determine to a large part how things are shaped politically. How can I protect myself? Which preventative measures am I allowed to take in order to defend myself? And how can I ensure that my own need to protect myself does not threaten others and does not push them to arm themselves further? Individuals and nations need to consistently ask themselves these questions and the parameters are forever shifting. Is it possible to prevent the logic of violence from turning into a vicious circle? One word, one strike, one shot can trigger it, and a process is set in motion that in most cases turns out to be a circular argument. My enemy is evil, and since he is evil, he is the enemy.
The exhibition ZIRKELSCH(L)USS – SHOTS AND CIRCULAR ARGUMENTS showcases how artists approach the possible consequences of such a mindset in their work. In her comprehensive series TARGETS, Herlinde Koelbl documented what soldiers shoot at when they learn to kill. Targets and depictions of the enemy become an entity that give a face to the adversary. How often does one need to shoot at the depiction of the enemy in training to be able to hit them in a real war?
For his series #SAFE // STRIKE, Dieter Huber has photographed bullet holes in an aesthetically pleasing manner, from hits that triggered wars to holes left by target training, which the viewer will find strangely attractive and revolting at the same time. In their strict formality and aesthetic, they are also an expression of raw violence. In his other series on display, #SURVEILLANCE, Huber uses the medium of computer-generated images to reflect on how the human desire for safety is exploited. He addresses the difficulty of striking a balance between freedom and security, on both the individual and the social levels.
With his series of photographs THE AFGHANS, Jens Umbach follows up on the AFGHANISTAN project, exhibited in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in 2014. 42 large-format portraits show male and female soldiers before they are deployed to Afghanistan, during the training preparing them for their tour, then in Mazar-e Sharif and, finally, after their return to Germany. During his second stay in Afghanistan Umbach focused on the people who live in close vicinity of Camp Marmal, as neighbours of the German troops. Just as he had done with the soldiers, he photographed the Afghani people against a neutral white background. In this way he isolates the subjects of the portraits from the events taking place around them. As distanced as Umbach’s photographic perspective may appear at first glance: the images reflect the same degree of empathy and respect that defines this exhibition on the topic of violence and war.