Opening: Wednesday, September 9, 2020, noon–12pm

Herta Müller.
Die große Melancholie ...
September 10, 2020 – August 31, 2021

Herta Müller. Die große Melancholie ..., exhibition view Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, 2020 © Foto: n.b.k. / Jens Ziehe

Curator: Ernest Wichner

Every year, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein invites artists to realize special projects on the front of the n.b.k. building on Chausseestrasse, thus intervening in the urban space. In 2020 Herta Müller, laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009, is presenting a new collage on the n.b.k. facade. Since 1989, in addition to her literary works, Müller has created artistic visual texts, for which she cuts out and mounts words and small visual elements from various print materials, such as newspapers, illustrated magazines, and brochures. The resulting collages have been collected in five publications to date:
Der Wächter nimmt seinen Kamm (The Guard Takes His Comb, 1993), Im Haarknoten wohnt eine Dame (A Lady Lives in the Bun, 2000), Die blassen Herren mit den Mokkatassen (The Pale Gentlemen with their Espresso Cups, 2005), Vater telefoniert mit den Fliegen (2012, published in English as Father‘s on the Phone with the Flies, 2018), and Im Heimweh ist ein blauer Saal (In Homesickness Is a Blue Room, 2019).

Individual words, originally glued to white index cards, combine in their sequence to form short rhythmic, often rhyming, poem-like texts. Each word is an object of its own, “perhaps even an individual,” according to Müller. “The appearance – the different sizes, colors, and fonts – is as important for the collage as the meaning of the word itself. And the rhyme comes on top of that. But you shouldn’t notice it straight away in the collage, it shouldn’t stand out. Although [the rhyme] is the motor of the sentence, the sentences must sound as if the rhyme came into being by itself. To me it is very intimate, and has its own voice. It can mourn, wink, or also make fun of the entire text. It is like a guard, but it’s also a prankster; on the one hand it disciplines, on the other hand it catapults the text wherever it wants, and can be completely unpredictable. It demands sentences from me that I had no idea of moments before, and I often wonder how long a small word lingers. It’s an echo in the head.” (Herta Müller)

Herta Müller (*1953 in Nițchidorf (German: Nitzkydorf) in the Banat region of Romania) has lived in Berlin since 1987. In 1982 her first book of short stories was published in Bucharest, Niederungen (published in English as Nadirs, 1999); in 1984 this book was published by Rotbuch Verlag in Berlin. Several more collections of her stories have since been published, including Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger (1992, in English as The Fox Was Ever the Hunter, 2016), Herztier (1994, published in English as The Land of Green Plums, 1996), Heute wäre ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (1997, published in English as The Appointment, 2001), and Atemschaukel (2009, published in English as The Hunger Angel, 2012). She has furthermore published several essays as well as a conversation with Angelika Klammer, Mein Vaterland war ein Apfelkern (My Homeland Was an Appleseed, 2014). Herta Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.

Still on view until the end of August:

Bouchra Khalili.
In Girum
November 23, 2019 – August 31, 2020
Curator: Eva-Maria Gillich

With her work
In Girum, designed for the facade of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Bouchra Khalili makes reference to the n.b.k. Video-Forum, the oldest and one of the largest video art collections in Germany. Khalili is particularly interested in the political and emancipatory potential of the medium. Since the introduction of the portable video camera in the 1960s, films can be produced autonomously and affordably. Using phosphorescent letters, Khalili quotes the title of a 35-mm film by Guy Debord from 1978: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni; English: “We wander in circles at night and are consumed by fire.” With the film’s title, which goes back to a palindrome attributed to Virgil, Khalili refers to the political concept of the Situationist International masterminded by Debord, and his technique of dérive – an experimental exploration of the environment through aimless wandering. With this quote, Khalili encourages us to reflect on consumer society and capitalist alienation, while bringing interaction with the urban space into focus and alluding to the critical potential of the moving image.

Bouchra Khalili (*1975 in Casablanca) studied film studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and fine arts at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. She has received numerous awards, including Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination Fellowship (2019–2020), the Ibsen Award (2017), the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2014), the Sam Art Prize (2013), the DAAD Scholarship Berlin (2012), and the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics Fellowship (2011–2013). Solo exhibitions (selection): Museum of Fine Arts Boston (2019); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2018); Secession, Vienna (2018); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2016); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); MACBA Barcelona (2015). Group exhibitions (selection): Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2019); MAXXI, Rome (2018); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018); Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2017); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2015); The New Museum, New York (2014). Khalili participated in documenta 14 (2017) and the art biennials in Marrakech (2016), Sydney (2012), Venice (2013), Moscow (2013), and Sharjah (2011).

Former works in the series of outside projects by international artists that address the urban space and intervene on the facade of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein:

September 27, 2018 – October 2019
Ceal Floyer
Maximum Headroom
Curator: Kathrin Becker

September 14, 2017 – August, 2018
Alfredo Jaar
Rosa, Karl, Bertolt, Herbert and the others
Curator: Michaela Richter

15. September 2016 – August 2017
Gerwald Rockenschaub
Curator: Kathrin Becker

15. September 15, 2015 – September 2016
Thomas Hirschhorn
6 Feuer
Curator: Marius Babias