The NRW-Forum Düsseldorf has been part of the neighboring Kunstpalast since the beginning of the year, and now it presents its new look at the start of the first joint exhibitions and events. The NRW-Forum remains contemporary, experimental, and surprising, and for its new corporate identity it has rather unceremoniously “hacked” the Kunstpalast’s own corporate identity. New events, digital formats, and mediation concepts will begin this fall, and joint exhibitions and the world’s first Augmented Reality Biennale are planned for next year.
The NRW-Forum and the Kunstpalast now belong together, but they are not the same—that is the fundamental idea behind the merger of the two institutions. The NRW-Forum will remain true to its contemporary and digital focus, and in the future it will regularly present more design exhibitions too. Close cooperation between the curatorial and educational departments will also facilitate joint exhibitions, especially in the field of photography, as well as joint mediation concepts and digital projects. A new combi-ticket is a convenient way for visitors to enjoy the varied program offered by both institutions when visiting the Ehrenhof.
“Both institutions benefit from the synergies that have been and continue to be created. The cooperation is based on the exchange of knowledge, skills, and ideas. Each institution retains its own identity and focus, while developing and learning a lot from each other at the same time. Together we cover a broad spectrum—from classical painting to digital art, via modern and contemporary photography—and offer our visitors a unique art experience," says Felix Krämer, Director General of the Kunstpalast.
New visual appearance
Even as part of the Kunstpalast, the NRW-Forum remains young, bold, and unconventional. This is an approach expressed by its new visual identity: the NRW-Forum has “hacked” the Kunstpalast’s corporate identity. From the logo and exhibition posters to admission wristbands and the website, everything is based on the Kunstpalast’s design elements, which are then overridden by playful, provocative, and humorous overpainting, typographic messages, and graphic elements. The first campaign for the upcoming exhibition #cute. Inseln der Glückseligkeit? (#cute. Islands of Bliss?) has just been publicized with indoor, outdoor, and digital advertising and the new NRW-Forum website will be launched shortly.
“The identity hack as the NRW-Forum’s new look is as simple as it is fitting for the kind of cooperation we desire: we don’t want to subsume it by the Kunstpalast brand, we want to strengthen the spirited, humorous, and creative style that the NRW-Forum is known for instead. With bold and even rebellious hacks, the NRW-Forum is making the Kunstpalast’s corporate identity its own. This also has a positive effect on the Kunstpalast, which is seen to be letting its ‘wild little sister’ break the golden rules of corporate identity,” explains Christian Hupertz, marketing director of the Kunstpalast.
An Emphasis on Design
The NRW-Forum remains faithful to its original stance and offers a great deal of digital and contemporary content, which will be expanded from next year to include its new focus on design. There will be a major design exhibition once a year. The first of these will be the group exhibition Subversives Design (Subversive Design) in the fall of 2021, curated by Alain Bieber, which will transform the NRW-Forum into a “Kaufhaus der Kritik”—a department store of criticism—with around thirty critical, humorous, and social artistic positions.
“The NRW-Forum remains innovative, contemporary, and digital. By merging with the Kunstpalast we can sharpen our thematic focus. In addition to contemporary photography, digital, and pop culture, there will be more design projects in the future, from fashion to product design. We also want to increase our openness and participation and attract new visitors. Our new digital platform for co-curation, nextmuseum.io, which we launched in July, is an important offensive tool for more participation and democracy in the art world,” says Alain Bieber, artistic director of NRW-Forum.
Augmented Reality Biennale
One of the NRW-Forum’s major innovative projects is the world’s first Augmented Reality Biennale, which is planned for the fall of 2021 and will also make use of the close physical proximity between the two institutions by occupying the Ehrenhof between them. Augmented Reality (AR) is an important artistic medium of the future. There will be a new sculpture park with AR works in Düsseldorf every two years. The digital sculptures can be viewed via a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or AR glasses. Augmented Reality means the computer-supported expansion of our perception of reality and is currently one of the most exciting forms of presentation for contemporary artists due to the combination of digital and analog life and the manifold opportunities for interaction. Visitors can interact with the sculptures in real time and explore the boundaries between the real and the virtual.
As an exhibition in public space, the Augmented Reality Biennale is committed to a democratic concept of art and accessible to everyone. The first Biennale will be organized by Alain Bieber and subsequently by a changing roster of international curators. The first edition will feature works by artists such as Jeremy Bailey, Louisa Clement, Lauren Lee McCarthy, and Manuel Rossner. The Biennale is supported by the Department of Mixed Reality and Visualization (MIREVI) at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. It has also managed to secure Facebook as a partner and supporter for this innovative format, whose creative strategist Marc Wirbeleit says of the upcoming collaboration: “AR & VR have the potential to change our world: how we work, play, learn, communicate and also how we create and experience art. We are delighted to be able to support this ambitious art project with our technological expertise. Facebook Reality Labs offers artists and visitors new and inspiring ways to connect and interactively experience works of art.”
Joint exhibitions, educational program, new event formats
Both institutions are united by a rigorous dedication to artistic photography. In fall 2021 Linda Conze, the curator for photography at the Kunstpalast, will curate the exhibition Porträts. Fotografien von Matthias Schaller. (Portraits. Photographs by Matthias Schaller.) There will be more curatorial exchange between the two institutions, with Alain Bieber curating exhibitions at the Kunstpalast in the future, for example.
A joint educational program with various online workshops for children and young people has already been in place since spring of this year. The new educational series Learning AI. Das Kulturlabor für Künstliche Intelligenz (Learning AI. The Cultural Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence) will begin in December 2020, in which current issues surrounding the development and application of artificial intelligence will be discussed with guests from the fields of culture, computer science, politics, philosophy, and science, alternating between theoretical talks and practical workshops.
A new discussion series with Düsseldorf’s well-known cultural journalist Helga Meister will provide a platform for a regular exchange of ideas about art. Beginning in November, she will hold a monthly one-hour discussion with a roster of artists at the NRW-Forum.
It's Tech Time! is the name of nextmuseum.io’s new hybrid event, where innovative technologies will be brought to life from November 19, 2020. Based on the late-night show format, a cultural presenter and a tech sidekick will guide the audience through the event on site and online, where experts from various fields will present new technologies in a vivid and entertaining way.
nextmuseum.io has been online for almost three months now—a digital platform for co-curation and co-creation where artists can submit works, curators can propose exhibitions, and all those interested can join in the discussion. The platform was active and successful as soon as it launched, with over four hundred works submitted to the now closed open call for the exhibition Willkommen im Paradies (Welcome to Paradise), for example. The final selection of works can be seen at nextmuseum.io and will be exhibited at the NRW-Forum from February 2021. As part of the nextmuseum.io project and the concept of open co-curation there is a lively Telegram discussion with many participants, and the online meetings and talks with international experts are also attracting considerable interest. The next talk with Yilmaz Dziewior and Nana Oforiatta Ayim will take place on October 6, 2020 at 4 pm.
nextmuseum.io is a joint project by the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf/Kunstpalast Düsseldorf and the Museum Ulm, funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation’s Digital Fund as part of the Kultur Digital program and supported by the Beisheim Foundation.
Service and Friends of the Kunstpalast
Visitors can now enjoy a joint ticket: for 15 euros (reduced: 11 euros), they can visit all the exhibitions in both institutions on the same day. Those who are members of the Friends of the Kunstpalast will also receive invitations to events and previews at the NRW-Forum with immediate effect and will also receive free admission to both venues. All the Friends’ benefits will also apply to the NRW-Forum from fall 2020, and the Friends of the Kunstpalast will now also fund free admission to the NRW-Forum for children and young people up to the age of 18. The Kunstfans in particular feel a strong affinity with the NRW-Forum, and so they are working together with the new digital platform nextmuseum.io and are involved in the It's Tech Time! event.
New Opening Times and Admission Prices
New NRW-Forum opening times: Tues–Sun 11 am–6 pm, Thurs/Fri 11am–9 pm
Kunstpalast opening times: Tues–Sun 11 am–6 pm, Thurs/Fri 11am–9 pm
Kunstpalast admission: entire building €12 (€9 reduced)
NRW-Forum admission: entire building €7.50 (€5.50 reduced)
New Kunstpalast/NRW-Forum Combi-Ticket: €15 (€11 reduced), valid for one day
It’s Tech Time!
From 19/11/2020, every three months, Tuesday, 8:15–9:45 pm
What is meant by transfeminist technologies? Is there an internet of animals? What digital tools does the museum of the future need? Innovative technologies are brought to life in this new hybrid event by nextmuseum.io. Following the late-night show format, presenter Prasanna Oommen and a tech sidekick will guide the audience through the event on site and online and will communicate new technologies in a clear and amusing way with keynote speeches by experts from various fields. Digital prototypes will be presented, as well as technological experiments and tools, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas in a Q&A session afterwards—live or via a chat. In the meantime you can test and experiment for yourself. The Kunstfans act as tech testers on the livestream, thus rendering these technologies tangible for the digital audience. A cooperation by nextmuseum.io with the Kunstfans and the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf.
The Cultural Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence
From 12/12/2020, once a month, Saturday, 4–5:30 pm
Self-driving cars, self-learning machines, filter bubbles via social media, emotion recognition, medicine: artificial intelligence is involved in all areas of life, we use it daily and mostly without noticing. Its algorithms track, analyze, curate, automate, monitor, learn, and filter the ocean of data that we flow through. The AI lab LEARNING AI will begin on December 12 at the NRW-Forum. In each of the six talks and workshops we will examine the developments and promises of AI research and the industry and subject our handling of algorithms to a reality check. With guests from the fields of culture, computer science, politics, philosophy, and science, current issues surrounding the development and application of artificial intelligence will be discussed. Alternating with the talks will be workshops that offer a practical exploration of the topics and the opportunity to approach these issues artistically and creatively.
Discussion series with Helga Meister
From 16/10/2020, once a month, Friday, 7 pm
Düsseldorf’s well-known cultural journalist Helga Meister has been following the local art scene for decades with a curious yet critical eye. Her commitment to art is as legendary as her sometimes uncomfortable questions. In this monthly discussion series at the NRW-Forum she pursues her passion for the fledgling art scene. The focus is on a relaxed, one-hour discussion with an artist, ranging from new talents to established artists. Artist Klara Virnich will be the first guest on November 20, 2020. A master student under Eberhard Havekost at the Düsseldorfer Kunstakademie, Virnich is an all-round talent: she sings, paints, and performs.
Improvisation, Ecology, and Digital Technology
Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences Conference
The Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences conference, Improvisation, Ecology and Digital Technology, will examine improvisation as a collective organisational process from an artistic and scientific perspective. With contributions from renowned artists and researchers, it will explore the question of whether improvisation in the age of digitalisation and artificial intelligence is enabling a new paradigm for approaching technology, society, and nature. The organisers are Professor Hyun Kang Kim (Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences, Peter Behrens School of Arts, Department of Design) and Nicola L. Hein.
#cute. Inseln der Glückseligkeit? (#cute. Islands of Bliss?)
With more than five hundred million posts on Instagram alone, #cute is one of the most popular hashtags ever. Cute can mean dainty, sweet, or twee, and we come across it in all aspects of life. Animal babies, unicorns, rabbit ears—cuteness is closely related to consumer culture and has not only taken social media by storm, but also product design, advertising, robotics, and art. Based on the work of more than fifty international artists, as well as numerous everyday objects and internet phenomena, the group exhibition #cute. Inseln der Glückseligkeit? (#cute. Islands of Bliss?) at the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf from October 9, 2020 to January 10, 2021 traces the many facets of this contemporary aesthetic across various mediums and genres, including its affective tipping points. Photographs, sculptures, videos, and installations by artists such as Aya Kakeda, Brenda Lien, FALK, Jonathan Monaghan, Melissa Sixma Lingo, An-Sofie Kesteleyn, and Maija Tammi offer us a glimpse of the “dark” side of cute, its ambiguities and turning points.
The Kebab Helix–And Other Fast Food Fantasies
Video programming by the IMAI Foundation
In our fast food fantasies, contradictory values of capitalist society collide—rationality and functionality, but also excess and convenience. Since the 1980s, video makers have been exploring this tension by appropriating the iconography of multinational corporations, challenging the logic of the franchise system, critiquing the working conditions of the gastronomic system, denouncing the mass production of food, and confessing the sin of gluttony. The program juxtaposes video works from different generations with works by the artists Dara Birnbaum, Helen Anna Flanagan, Gorilla Tapes alias Vulture Video, and Petr Vrána.
Made in Düsseldorf #3: Alex Grein/Johanna Reich
Made in Düsseldorf is an exhibition series by the NRW-Forum in cooperation with the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf. It is dedicated to contemporary artists who are connected with Düsseldorf and the Rhineland through their studies, place of residence, or the content of their artistic work. Once a year, as part of the institution’s partnership with the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf, the series presents works from Sammlung der Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf im Kunstpalast at the NRW-Forum. The third edition, titled UNCOVER, is dedicated to questions of mediality and the critical and clever experimentation with reality and perception in the photographic works of the artists Alex Grein and Johanna Reich. While Alex Grein rearranges libraries and places literature in new contexts or constructs new image layers in her photographs, Johanna Reich uses portraits of forgotten women artists as the starting point for her work and addresses the role of women in art.
Die Kunst zu helfen (The Art of Helping)
25 Years of fiftyfifty. A Charity Exhibition
The street magazine fiftyfifty is turning twenty-five. Over 10 million issues have been sold during this time, creating innumerable housing opportunities for homeless people. Artworks donated by a number of artists have helped to make this possible. In order to secure fiftyfifty’s work for the future, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is hosting a charity sales exhibition with works by Boris Becker, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Klaus Klinger, Lior Körner, Masakazu Kondo, Katharina Mayer, Jonathan Meese, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth, among others.
Willkommen im Paradies (Welcome to Paradise)
The world is changing: the boundaries between synthetic and organic life, between civilisation and nature, people and technology are dissolving. On the one hand, we are experiencing catastrophic climate change, the worldwide spread of diseases, loss of biodiversity, growing populism, and new right-wing terrorism. On the other hand, a new narrative is emerging: technology is becoming the promise of a virtual paradise. Humankind is creating new digital spaces for dreams and utopias. But this dream landscape can also become a nightmare, and new questions about what it means to be human in this world have to be negotiated. The exhibition project Willkommen im Paradies (Welcome to Paradise) is an experiment, an immersive and interactive production. The NRW-Forum will become a transmedia media art trail, with art installations, video and music productions, and virtual realities. With works by Hazel Brill, Sandrine Deumier, RaumZeitPiraten, Studio Swine, Barbara Herold and Florian Huth, Noriyuki Suzuki, and many more, the exhibition takes visitors into fictional worlds between dystopia and utopia.
In VR we trust
The two-part exhibition In VR we trust at the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf and at the Alte Nudelfabrik in Zeitz is a project by Daniel Hengst and Clemens Schöll. The exhibition will be organized entirely on the platform nextmuseum.io and co-curated by the community. All works will be found via the platform; the open call will run until September 30, 2020. Four critical works will be displayed that reflect the current status and critical value of Virtual Reality (VR) as an artistic tool or medium and will facilitate a public discussion about it. The four works will be shown for one day each at both venues, accompanied by discussions, lectures, and an intensive interaction with the artists.
Subversives Design (Subversive Design)
Subversive design is critical design; it offers no direct solutions, but asks questions first of all. Critical design challenges the status quo of the classical design system and seeks to creatively break it open. It strives for change, for a design revolution. The group exhibition deals with pressing issues of our time such as climate protection, digitalization, nationalism, and discrimination and brings together contemporary designers who offer alternative solutions, including Ines Kaag & Desiree Heiss (Bless), Henry Levy (Enfants Riches Déprimés), Jojo Gronostay, and Katerina Kamprani. The exhibition comprises around thirty critical yet humorous positions and transforms the NRW-Forum into a “Kaufhaus der Kritik”—a department store of criticism—with the entire exhibition being auctioned off at the end.
Photographs by Matthias Schaller
Reflective visors on astronauts’ helmets, deserted artists' studios, and abandoned offices in the Vatican: absence is the central motif in the work of photographer Matthias Schaller. The NRW-Forum Düsseldorf presents the artist’s first comprehensive show in Düsseldorf with around 100 works from series including Disportraits, The Mill, Purple Desk, and Das Meisterstück. Matthias Schaller is known for creating portraits of people without actually showing them. What the viewer gets to see in his photographs instead are abandoned places, personal objects, reflections. Referring back to art history, Schaller’s works confront viewers with themselves, their belief in images, and their scepticism about them.
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