Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach
Busan Biennale, South Korea
Pinchuk ArtCentre Kyiv, Ukraine
Why is it easier to find a wavy mirror than a straight one today? Henrike Naumann uncovers a contemporary historical archaeology of the legacies of postmodernism in Germany. What does the ubiquity of postmodern design in copy after copy in everyday life do to Germans? What social impact did the postmodern building boom from 1990 on have on the lives of people in the former GDR? Can one become radicalized by furniture? And what was that about Expo 2000 in Hanover, whose boss, as president of the Treuhand, was responsible for the liquidation of former GDR businesses just a few years earlier?
Naumann takes the millennium year as a starting point for a consideration of the 1990s in East and West Germany and the aftermath of postmodern design on German society. Based on her reflections, the large temporary exhibition of the Museum Abteiberg is transformed into a strange ‘German Pavilion’, an excavation site where the debris of postmodernism and German unity is gathered. The exhibition moves between museum, exhibition stand, concept store, living room and ruin.
Expo 2000 and Terror 2000, Treuhand and Love Parade, Gerhard Schröder and Dr. Motte, Generation Golf and Möbel Höffner – a German-German pavilion filled with objects and pieces of furniture selected from the artist’s archive, from the Exposeeum Hannover and from Mönchengladbach’s living rooms. Her video works, created on both analog and digital video formats, lie in space like debris from a near past, the ancient clay fragments of our time.
Naumann refers to this as the ‘aesthetic of reunification’: the debris of cheap consumer goods and postmodern design and architecture that arrived in East Germany around 1990. In her work, these artefacts become monuments of a cultural and political imposition that, at the time, was presented as the only way forward – yet was, in many ways, doomed to fail and remains the source of a longstanding societal malaise.Kito Nedo: Henrike Naumann, in: Frieze, 201/2019
Henrike Naumann relies on the complex embroilment of the viewer, from a staring mascot’s strange salutation to the furniture’s uncanny familiarity to the talks and colloquia she stages within her own exhibitions. She appropriates history by taking the material remains of old narratives, emptying them out, and consigning them to the viewers’ effervescent, communal reassessment. No matter how one approaches the work – whether through a selfie, an anecdote, or a text – every pose, every snuggle, every word contributes to a new, polyvocal appropriation transgressing Heimat’s phantasmatic borders.Markues Aviv: Embroiled to the Max, in: Henrike Naumann, Katalog Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipendium, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2019
The book 2000 is Henrike Naumann’s first comprehensive publication and provides an insight into the exhibition and reception history of her work series 2000. In it, she examined the year 2000 in Germany, burrowed through the remains of Expo 2000 in Hanover, and devised her own version of a German Pavilion, in which the country was symbolically split apart again. Her installation was created in the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach in 2018, then went on tour, moving from the Busan Biennale in Korea to KOW Berlin, Kunstverein Hannover, and the Museum of Fine Arts (MdbK) in Leipzig. The catalogue is being published to coincide with the presentation of the 2019 art prize awarded by the Leipziger Volkszeitung with an accompanying exhibition at the MdbK Leipzig.