Cyprien Gaillard, L‘Ange du foyer (Vierte Fassung), 2019, Holographic LED display, apparatus of stainless steel, © Cyprien Gaillard, Courtesy of the artist and Sprüth Magers, Photo: LVR-ZMB / Annette Hiller
Exhibition from August 27, 2023 until January 28, 2024
Immerse yourself into surreal worlds: the “Surreal Futures” exhibition, with around 30 international positions from the fields of digital and media art, presents forwardlooking perspectives on Surrealism.
Artists from 19 countries address the urgent questions of the 21st century in interactive video works, virtual and augmented reality artworks, hybrid installations, digital collages and multimedia performances, for example, with a view to the impact of globalisation, digitalisation and the climate crisis, including post-colonial changes and increasing diversity. They present Surrealism as a contemporary genre of art dreaming beyond reality that reflects changes in our living environment and develops speculative future scenarios.
For the first time, contemporary works in the collection will also be increasingly presented next to the works of Max Ernst. With this in mind, a dialogue between Max Ernst and contemporary artists will be created from the perspective of current questions.
Louis-Philippe Rondeau, LIMINAL, 2018, Video installation, illuminated aluminium ring, USB camera, computer, © Louis-Philippe Rondeau, Photo: LVR-ZMB / Annette Hiller
An avatar as a hybrid of human, octopus and machine by the Chinese media artist Cao Fei, nature dioramas with radioactive elements by Paul Duncombe or digital caves as a site-specific 3D wall design by the Artist Tim Berresheim based in Aachen: around 30 artists spread out different past and present references as well as future perspectives along the thematic focal points of Digital Bodies, Transforming Landscapes and Future Worlds.
In the Digital Bodies chapter, the interactive installation Liminal of the Canadian artist Louis Philippe Rondeau playfully invites visitors to move actively through a light portal, to play it like a musical instrument or use it as a selfie point. Liminal confronts us with the origination of digital images on the canvas and with sounds generated in the work, which vary depending upon the position of the visitors.
The Cologne artist Johanna Reich also works with the transformation of the body. Face Detection addresses the question of the extent to which digitalisation and technologization not only define our lives, but even influence the identity and image of the human being in a literal sense. The power of dreaming, which the Surrealists also made use of, is the focus of the work Dreamprints. The French artist Justine Emard recorded her own dream data in a sleep laboratory during the corona pandemic and translated it into sculptures of glazed terracotta with a 3D-printing process. In her works, her dreams become architecture landscapes and appear as the result of the work of a robotic arm.
Tim Berresheim, Mondmilch Bocksteinhöhle, 2023, 3D wall design, © Tim Berresheim, Photo: LVR-ZMB / Annette Hiller
The Transforming Landscapes exhibition chapter looks, taking Max Ernst’s painting The Twentieth Century as its starting point, at landscapes maimed by human interventions. With Asunder, the artists Tega Brain, Julian Oliver and Bengt Sjölén developed, for example, an AI-based, fictitious “environment manager”. Asunder is a contention with the increasing importance of artificial intelligence in managing environmental problems. It combines state of the art climate and environment simulation technologies, a supercomputer and technologies of machine learning for the production of images. The visualisations in a triptych of three-channel video projections show various simulated future scenarios that suggest AI as problem solutions.
The Future Worlds chapter deals in particular with the visions of the future of Afrofuturistic and Indigenous Futuristic artists. Collage and assemblage as techniques for weaving together different levels of time and reality also still play an important role in artistic practices today. The Ghanaian-Moroccan artist David Alabo, for example, creates surreal, digital collages with 3D sculpture software and digital processing tools; a suitable medium for his sci-fi images, in which he imagines surreal landscapes that appear to be untouched by colonial structures. In his works, such as Finding Solace in the relics of future past, Alabo places cultural symbols (black panther, raised fist) in the context of new, unexplored places – not in the service of escapism, but instead to promote a self-empowerment of the black community.
Works of the temporary exhibition will for the first time also be presented as interventions in the collection rooms. With the hologram L’ange du foyer, the contemporary artist Cyprien Gaillard refers to the painting of the same name by Max Ernst from 1937, updates it medially and transports it into the present.
Memo Akten | David Alabo | Aya | Tim Berresheim | Tega Brain, Julian Oliver, Bengt Sjölén | Viktor Brim | Imran Channa | Louisa Clement | Paul Duncombe | Jake Elwes | Justine Emard | Cao Fei | Cyprien Gaillard | Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg & Sascha Pohflepp | Katherine Melançon | Kasia Molga | Michael Namingha | Isadora Neves Marques | Michela Pelusio | Sabrina Ratté | Johanna Reich | Tabita Rezaire | Louis-Philippe Rondeau | Doug Rosman | Maxime Rossi | Camilo Sandoval | Tristan Schulze | Transmoderna | Theo Triantafyllidis | Jessi Ujazi | Pinar Yoldaş
In addition to the exhibition, there is a microsite on which the contemporary positions of Surreal Futures are briefly described and put in relation to works by Max Ernst from the museum as well as from international collections.
Go to the microsite