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KP Brehmer. A test extending beyond the action
Date: 31 March - 12 June 2011
Curator: Doreen Mende
Exhibition Session: The Political Constitution of the Present

We live in a time of an excess in exhibiting. Magazines, newspapers, shopping malls, television and the Internet constitute and reproduce visual grammars, directing our understanding of the world. Museum exhibitions are just a further component of the circuit. This excess in exhibiting is a living condition monitored by capitalism. The exhibition of projects by the German artist KP Brehmer (1938-1997) today leads us into a space of reflection: How do visual systems of western societies shape the human being? What are our means to declare a voice of disagreement without withdrawing words and images?

As a major figure of the German Pop Art artist initiative called Capitalist Realism, which culminated in the famous catalog raisonée Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus by René Block in the early 1970's, Brehmer worked over decades on the inversion of a capitalist economy of knowledge production by de-codifying their visual nomenclature. His work allows the viewer to reflect on the way our society constructs and visualizes data, and the ways in which this data is used as a tool of political abstraction; the political takes place, without shouting the word 'politics.' Brehmer's projects expropriate western concepts of typography, cartography, thermography and color theory and reveal how a visual appearance, including our own, is implicated into economics. If we approached his displays, films, publications, compositions and installations as 'notation systems' of social processes, the work would begin to take on a status similar to a musical score: Only in the moment of the performance do they open up their questions under the very actual conditions of making them public.

Here, exhibiting is both a means and a concern of a practice - for KP Brehmer and for us today, perhaps more crucially than ever. Following this path, his projects already implicated a future becoming altered in an act of exposure. A thought from 1974 could turn into "a test extending beyond the action" today and tomorrow. The reflection on the means of exposure then, including us, might utilize the excess in exhibiting in order to articulate a possibility to defend society in a different way.

"Capitalist realism hasn't weakened since the bank crises; if anything it has intensified". (Mark Fisher, London 2010)

   With the collaboration of

Logo Goethe Institute



No - Yes, 1964, 48 x 32 cm, KP Brehmer Nachlass, Berlin

KP Brehmer, Walkings 1-6, part 4, 1970, 16mm, film still (c) KP Brehmer Sammlung und Nachlass, Berlin, 2011

Aufsteller 25, Das Gefühl zwischen Fingerkuppen..., 1967, 60 x 36 x 10 cm. Image credit: (c) KP Brehmer Nachlass, Berlin, 2011

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