Transformers: Masterpieces of the Frieder Burda Collection in dialogue with artificial beings [December 10, 2022–April 30, 2023]Marilena Pateraki
Artists: Louisa Clement, Ryan Gander, Timur Si-Qin and Jordan Wolfson
“Machines have less problems. I´d like to be a machine, wouldn’t you?” —Andy Warhol
Rarely has a museum been so full of life: numerous masterpieces from the Frieder Burda Collection—timeless works from the rich cosmos of art history—are juxtaposed with artificial beings including avatars, dolls, robots, and animatronics. In this exhibition experiment curated by Udo Kittelmann, visitors circulate in the midst of this conspirative constellation. We invite you to ask these human machines questions and to follow the discourse on the competition between traditional and future art techniques.
Created at a time when the technological and social role of the electronic mass media was not yet comparable with its presence in the twenty-first century, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Gerhard Richter transformed the traditional expectations of painted works. Considering the tension between the past and the present, we ask how the museum concept and the reception of art will change in the future if the artworks are no longer static and historical, but alive. After all, progress is being made in the automatization of life and the transformation of our social worlds. Prophecies of artificial intelligence are taking the lead and paving the way for humanoid beings. Humans are encouraging the creation of perfect beings—putting themselves in the situation of being on the verge of being replaced.
The artist Louisa Clement (b. 1987) created copies of herself in her three robotic beings, which she calls Representatives. Jordan Wolfson (b. 1980) astonishes us with his Female Figure, a mobile and masked android. Ryan Gander’s (b. 1976) computer-animated robot mouse I … I … I … invites us to listen carefully. Timur Si-Qin’s (b. 1984) Transformers series confronts nature and the nonhuman. All four artists belong to the “post-internet” generation, and in Baden-Baden their works are juxtaposed with Jackson Pollock’s expressive “drip” paintings, Georg Baselitz’s painting Sieben mal Paula (Seven Times Paula), and Gerhard Richter’s legendary Kerze (Candle), among many others. Both their biographies and their works reflect the increasingly data-based living environments—a nightmare or fantastical belief?
The exhibition Transformers is a daring experiment in which the Museum Frieder Burda is transformed into a hybrid, visionary test arrangement. Artificial beings were “invited” to the museum as guests who critically inspected the historical paintings and sculptures in the collection. This creates new rooms of experience. The fictional aspect is a conspirative dialogue situation that presents a “what-if” scenario of a radically transformed future. This brings the museum to life, and we come one step closer to the world of technology.
In the words of Udo Kittelmann, curator and artistic director of the Museum Frieder Burda: “Our aim is to revive and radically challenge the concept of museums. With this exhibition of traditional artworks and artificial beings, we are conducting a daring experiment. It is basically the logical continuation of the idea of performance using technological means, with animatronics and humanoid robots as guests.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with texts by Udo Kittelmann and Siegfried Zielinski.