Axel Schneider, The Night Climbers of Cambridge, Ohne Titel, 1930 (Detail), Museum Mmk Für Moderne Kunst © Thomas Mailaender, Photo Axel Schneider
Sep 23, 2023 – Feb 11, 2024
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
Frankfurt, Germany

Channeling presents new acquisitions alongside other works from the MUSEUM MMK FÜR MODERNE KUNST’s collection. Different perspectives may emerge in the space between objects. This space relates to the distance of time between the works’ making and their positioning in the exhibition. The collection was formed in 1981, and the museum opened in 1991. How have sensibilities and discourses changed since the museum’s foundation? Channeling suggests a movement toward a particular destination or object, or the flow along a specified route or through a given medium.

“The whole of your body except your hands and feet are over black emptiness. Your feet are on slabs of stone sloping downwards and outwards at an angle of about thirty-five degrees to the horizontal.” Serving as a review and advice for climbing the architecture of Cambridge, England, The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a 1937 book published under the pseudonym “Whipplesnaith.” A series of photographs document the practice of a group that went by the same name, comprising anonymous students who climbed college buildings and townhouses in the 1930s.

In Un film dramatique (2019), Éric Baudelaire lets schoolchildren in the 6th grade at Collège Dora Maar reflect on and work with film. Over a four-year period, their understanding of the medium develops in parallel with an awareness of their position in society. Living in the “Neuf-Trois” (the 93rd district) of the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, the children, as they negotiate their teenage years, openly address social violence, identity, and power relations.

Wheat bread, artificial flowers, soap bubbles, and surfboards become associated with foams in a work by Dan Graham. Foams (1966/2001), a wall text in four sections, lists and describes a material to the point of dissociation. Consisting of a wholesale-size piece of acoustic foam, Park McArthur’s sculpture Polyurethane Foam (2016) absorbs sound and physical impact. Across from two wall-mounted works by Donald Judd, Untitled (86-24), 1986, and Untitled (89-47), 1989, Polyurethane Foam reacts to the conditions of the exhibition space while also affecting the experience of it.

The most recent work in the collection – Just a Soul Responding (2023) by Sky Hopinka – captures imagery such as roads and landscapes and the process of traditional canoe making. The video combines voice-overs, text, and music to describe the traumas of land dispossession and the colonization of North America. The inherent violence within American society and its presence in popular culture become apparent in the contrast between a wooden canoe and muscle cars. The sculpture Untitled (1997/1998) by Cady Noland, consisting of a whitewall tire and an aluminum pipe, attests to how violence does not only appear in roaring machines but is ingrained in decoupled material parts as well.

Channeling proposes to expand our understanding of earlier acquisitions and donations while maintaining attention to the context constituted by the collection – a context into which new works enter and with which they necessarily engage. The exhibition is curated by Julia Eichler and Lukas Flygare.

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