Undeniably Me
Gottfried Helnwein

May 26 - August 14, 2011

Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic

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Installation at Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, 2011

Left: Gerhard Richter
48 Portraits, 1971-72

Right: Gottfried Helnwein
48 Portraits, 1991-92

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Identity is certainly one of the most complex concepts affecting, without exception, every human being. Then depicting of human figures, especially faces, closely relates to the need to express oneself and take up a position in relation to “me” and to the surrounding world, itself implies to fully set foot into the field of identity. The exhibition focuses on the reflection and changes in the perception and identity in contemporary art. Its open concept creates a network of relations that bring the possibility of new reading and interpretation of both the works themselves, and the given theme. The statement “Undeniably Me”, which was chosen as the name of the entire exhibition, explicitly leads to the entire problem, which is very contemporary in the broader context of current events where shifts in self-reflection in relation to the outside world are quite clearly visible and widely discussed. The core of the exhibition is the concept of curators of Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Julie Wallner and Holger Broeker, created mainly on the basis of the Museum’s collections. Thanks to the excellent relationships between the two organizing institutions, it was possible to create a new Prague version of the exhibition – compared to the original, the exhibition has been principally extended by a number of substantial works on the subject from both public and private collections throughout Europe.

The theme of “Me” is on various levels and locations spread-out from the now iconic installation “Menschlich” from Christian Boltansky – the covering of the walls of the room with hundreds of black and white photographs of people who disappeared long ago, to the “Memory Lapse” a video from Dutch artist Fiona Tan, which captures, using a very impressive, almost a film method the problem of the loss of one’s own self and forgetting oneself as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. In the space between these two fields of human existence, the selected artists explore in various positions the theme of Me, from self-projection in film roles in the world-famous images of American photographer Cindy Sherman, through ironic commentary on racial issues in the videos of Bruce Nauman, Rineke Dijkstra’s extremely sensitive portraits of ordinary people perceiving the transformation of identity in adolescence, questions of identity determined by belonging to a particular social group from Richard Bellingham, Marlene Dumas’s vibrant paintings on the theme of sensitive questions related to gender issues, double portraits from the Hidden Image series by Jiří David, the question of the loss of identity in the Communist regime of North Korea, in addition referring to the dehumanization of work in a developed Western society in monumental photographs by Andreas Gursky, the fictitious portraits of Thomas Ruff, to the completely unique work that forms the climax of the entire exhibition – an iconic set from German painter Gerhard Richter entitled “48 Portraits”. The exhibitions also includes masterful drawings of faces referring to the still hidden identity of babies by American artist Robert Longo, a series of drawings entitled “Where am I?” by Russian conceptualists Viktor Pivovarov, a video by Garry Hill, as well as other works by Gerhard Richter entitled “Onkel Rudi”, whose importance in the context of Czech origin arises from the Lidice collection

By its broad range, the exhibition attempts to summarize and mutually connect a series of works, which themselves were created at different times and places, but now crucially pertain to the interpretation of the given theme through the complexity of their expressions.

Exhibited Artists:
Richard Billingham
Christian Boltanski
Jiří David
Rineke Dijkstra
Marlene Dumas
Isa Genzken
Andreas Gursky
Gottfried Helnwein
Gary Hill
Robert Longo
Bruce Nauman
Elizabeth Peyton
Viktor Pivovarov
Gerhard Richter
Thomas Ruff
Cindy Sherman
Adriena Šimotová
Fiona Tan
Luc Tuymans