15.11.2019 – 2.3.2020
seeing is believing
We use Google Maps, visit dating platforms, and store our images in a cloud as a matter of course. The transition from the analog to the digital age has radically changed our personal, economic, and political relationships. The global data flow shapes not only our immediate physical environment, but entire social systems. Nevertheless, the circulation and processing of this data remains immaterial and abstract to us, and cannot be linked to our own reality of life.
As Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year,” Caline Aoun shows in reduced experimental arrangements how data manifest themselves materially, how inseparably real and virtual worlds are actually linked. For Aoun, the permanent flood of images and data resembles “noise” that dominates our entire lives. Instead of amplifying this media noise further, the artist concentrates it and gives it a material dimension. She describes this as a way of creating “new experiences, forms of silence, and empty spaces,” of creating an aesthetic environment that makes it possible to sensually grasp and rethink otherwise intangible connections.
Born in Beirut in 1983, Aoun belongs to a generation of young Lebanese artists who, after the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 1975, completed their training abroad and today play a decisive role in shaping the Middle East art scene. Although Aoun is concerned with the phenomena of digitalization and the Internet, she does not use high-performance computers, smartphones, or VR glasses. She often works with simple inkjet printers, which she deploys until the system collapses and “involuntarily” produces increasingly reduced images.
This is how the wall piece Contemplating Dispersions was created from color-printed DIN A3+ sheets. An almost tar-black surface splinters increasingly into reddish-purple shimmering color fields. The ornament then decomposes into narrowing beams of light blue, turquoise, and yellow. But as the printer tries to fulfill the job of producing black pages, the cartridge gradually empties. After all, the exhausted device uses all available ink residue, and all that remains is white, riddled with streaks and traces of the empty printer heads. Aoun’s works do not depict, but are themselves the “tangible” result of a supposedly “invisible” process, which the artist presents to us directly. So the exhibition title seeing is believing is meant quite literally.
This is also shown by the four reduced fountains of Infinite Energy, Finite Time, the central installation of the exhibition. Bubbling out of each fountain is a color used in the CMYK color model: cyan, magenta, yellow, or black. The fountains are connected to each other by a system of transparent hoses and exchange with one another at a barely perceptible rate. At the beginning of the exhibition, pure colors still effervesce from the ink heads, but in the course of time they melt into a cloudy dark sludge, which coagulates, clogs the ink heads, and finally dries completely, thus interrupting the cycle. It is about extreme scarcity and excessive abundance, about circulation and congestion.
"My works may be quite abstract,” says Aoun, “but at the same time they resemble something very real.” Her exhibition tells of the collapse, the overtaxing of systems. It has a clear message: that the noise must stop, that we need space for contemplation to find new systems and ourselves.
This exhibition at PalaisPopulaire is the first presentation of the libanese artist in Germany.
Artist of the Year
Spotlight on young art: Like its corporate collection, Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” award is committed to the present. The aim is to acquaint a wide public with new and exciting artistic positions. Based on the recommendation of Deutsche Bank’s Global Art Advisory Council which includes internationally renowned curators Okwui Enwezor (†), Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn, the bank honors an emerging artist, who has created an artistically, as well as socially relevant, oeuvre, one integrating the media of paper and photography—the two main areas of focus of the Deutsche Bank Collection.
After Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Yto Barrada (France / Morocco), Roman Ondák (Slovakia), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), Victor Man (Romania), Koki Tanaka (Japan), Basim Magdy (Egypt), and Kemang Wa Lehulere (South Africa), Caline Aoun (Lebanon) is the Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” for 2018/2019.
Unlike many other prizes, “Artist of the Year” is not based on a ﬁnancial reward, but is positioned as an integral part of the Deutsche Bank art program, which has been opening up the world of contemporary art to the public for forty years—through Deutsche Bank’s own substantial collection, its exhibitions, and its joint projects with partners. Each “Artist of the Year” is presented in a solo exhibition in Berlin, in previous years at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, today at the PalaisPopulaire. Subsequently, the exhibitions move on to other international institutions.
A comprehensive catalogue and an exclusive edition, designed by the artist, will be published concurrent with the exhibition. In addition, a selection of the artist’s works will be acquired for the Deutsche Bank Collection on this occasion.
More information can be found in the online magazine
OKWUI ENWEZOR 1963 Calabar, Nigeria – 2019 Munich, Germany
Enwezor was Artistic Director of Visual Arts of 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, and 2011–2018 Director of Haus der Kunst, Munich. He was the founder and an editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.
HOU HANRU Born 1963 in Guangzhou, China. Lives and works in San Francisco, Paris, and Rome. Hanru works as a curator and critic, and is Artistic Director of MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome.
UDO KITTELMANN Born 1958 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Lives and works in Berlin. Since 2008, Udo Kittelmann is Director of the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
VICTORIA NOORTHOORN Born in 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives and works in Buenos Aires. Noorthoorn works as a curator and art historian and is Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires.