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The Fevered Specters of Art - Die fiebrigen Gespenster der Kunst

11 November 2016, 14:00 - 15 January 2017, 18:00

                                                  11. November 2016 - 15. Januar 2017

The starting point of The Fevered Specters of Art is recent artworks in which a new wave of interest can be detected toward revolutionary ideas of the 1960s and ’70s, especially those that expressed political ideas violently in order to provoke social change on a large scale. The foundation of these works is not nostalgic fascination but rather an analytical interest in radical progressive ideas, with a special need to investigate the reasons behind the inability of most movements to realize their revolutionary goals.


In our time of constant crises that impact both the political and the economic sphere, the level of high discontent is manifested in different forms of (non-)violent protest movements and insurgences that overthrow governments. Nevertheless, most actions are not able to establish even short-term structural changes. This is exactly the context in which the project looks back on the epoch of Cold War radicalism and anti-colonial revolution, when ideas of and the belief in the possibility of radical social change permeated the globe.

With its title inspired by a poem by activist and poet Kirill Medvedev, The Fevered Specters of Art presents a variety of approaches that, through specific events and historical contexts, survey the theories and practices of radical leftist politics of the 1960–70s and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.

All the artworks deal with precarious political realities and offer various methods for the critical analysis of historical political material. This questioning of the ways in which history is organized is connected to the corruptibility of images and how political resistance translates into the realm of art.

The project also investigates the ways in which artists rethink the possibilities of new political subjects and how very complex sociohistorical connections can be adequately questioned and revisited in the realm of art. There is particular focus on artistic strategies that work with a variety of narrative structures and cinematic ways of storytelling and that utilize documents and archives.

While the revolutionary social and political movements of the 1960s and ’70s operating in the western hemisphere have been extensively investigated (for example, the history of the RAF), what happened in other parts of the world much less. The project thus prioritizes an exploration of the exchange of revolutionary ideas across geopolitical and cultural boundaries, including how grassroots leftist organizations were formed and how they influenced each other. What happens when revolutionary ideas and theories travel? How did they travel, translate, and influence? Who were the protagonists behind these transfers?



                                       HEXEN 2.0/ Historical Diagrams/From National                                                                           Socialism via Cybernetics and the Macy Conferences                                                                              to Neo-Totalitarianism,    2009-11.
                                       Courtesy the artist, Annely Juda Fine Art, London                                                                                     and P.P.O.W., New York © Suzanne Treister



The project is also grounded in the political history of the city of Oldenburg and revisits the seemingly little-known legacy of the so-called Namensstreit, a clash over the naming of the University of Oldenburg that began in 1972. The university and the state of Lower Saxony were at odds for nearly 20 years over naming the university after Carl von Ossietzky, a German publicist, pacifist, and 1935 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp near Oldenburg.

A new conversation about this legacy is taken up both by the newly commissioned work by Rajkamal Kahlon as well as by the performative events organized by Felix Gmelin with students of the Oslo Art Academy and the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. The latter also touch on the future of the university as a space for political organization during a time when post-secondary institutions are being reshaped by a neoliberal agenda.


Curators: Edit Molnár, Lívia Páldi, Marcel Schwierin


Exhibition                                                     Cabinet                                        Screening

Ho Tzu Nyen                                                     Marwa Arsanios                            John Akomfrah

Rajkamal Kahlon                                               Klaus vom Bruch                           Eric Baudelaire

Naeem Mohaiemen                                           Felix Gmelin

Wendelien van Oldenborgh                              Johan Grimonprez

Catarina Simão                                                 Hito Steyerl

Suzanne Treister



                                            The Young Man Was I – III, Last Man in Dhaka Central                  
(Part 3), 2015 © Naeem Mohaiemen

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Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed
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