Ulrike Grossarth Lublin Storehouse

13/4 – 26/5 2017

 “Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, the Seer of Lublin, an eighteenth-century zaddik, prophesied during a journey through the forest of Lublin in horse-drawn carriage, that […] the entire revealed and hidden teachings together with the settling down of the Shekhinah will once be present here.

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Ulrike Grossarth (born in 1952 in Oberhausen), whose works are currently a part of the exhibition Lublin Storehouse in Ústí nad Labem House of Arts, is one of the important representatives of the current German art scene. The author works as a professor at the Academy of Fine arts in Dresden and her creative work was formerly associated with the well-known FLUXUS movement. For a long time, Grossarth dedicated herself to alternative dance she originally graduated in but she also dealt with videography, action art and different types of site-specific installations. She also engaged in the ´international Free University Project´, which was initiated by the key person in German art of the second half of the 20th century, Joseph Beuys. The author participated in the Documenta X exhibition in Kassel in 1997 and was awarded the prestigious Käthe Kollwitz Prize in 2009 in Berlin. In 2013, she initiated the foundation of The Lublin School, a mobile institute for the study of Jewish themes and the culture of south-east Poland. In 2014, she prepared an extensive exhibition project for Generali Foundation in Vienna.

In the concept of the exhibition Lublin Storehouse, Ulrike Grossarth thematises the motifs of archives collected during the past ten years in Lublin, Poland and its vicinity. The author works with the features of Central-East European area that fundamentally changed during the 20th century due to the detrimental influence of totalitarian regimes and that is once again threatened by the growing nationalist tendencies. The found material is put in contrast with the West European cultural tradition represented by the references to the Encyclopaedias written by Diderot and D’Alembert (Paris, 1751). Detailed sources of information are opening in front of the audience through creative multiplication of the specific environment and specific stimuli. These sources initiate the cleansing process of comparing the causes and consequences of specific, often destructive and tragic historical events.

During the preparation of the exhibition for the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts, Ulrike Grossarth used a research and expressional strategy that was gradually established in cooperation with her students. The author herself defines it as follows: For many years, in my class at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, we have been working on a method of empirically extending artistic themes, expanding them toward central themes that are of general relevance, in order to develop a lively concept of culture. In this context, we read the work of Emmanuel Levinas and reflected on his differentiation between Greek and Hebrew thinking, in which he elaborates fundamental new approaches to another ethics. Meanwhile, the traditional Jewish exegesis based on the Talmud has become an integral part of our work. That is, the training and cultivation of a paradoxical way of thinking that remains present in layers that are continually superimposing on each other in different ways through a constant reinterpretation of the Torah. In the last few years, we have complemented these topics by intensive studies of Hasidic tradition. Of course, this interest must also be viewed against the backdrop of Jewish culture since the Shoah. Since 2003 we have traveled to locations, in particular in Poland and Ukraine, that relate in various ways to this nexus of topics. On the eight- to ten-day excursions, the goal was to continually carry out courses of action in a highly concentrated form, and thereby to consider everything, the excursion itself, the discussions and individual actions, from a formal point of view, and to purposefully put this into confrontation with the historical forms and ´cultural preserves´ of the respective geographic areas. Our question was: under what conditions do procedural structures emerge that might be valuable or meaningful in other ways? Our topics included, among others: identity in progress, work ´lessness´, paradoxes, circular systems, and the playful gestures of the political. My own works, which I have called the ´Lubliner Projekte´ (´Lublin Projects´), also developed out of these contexts.”

The exhibition presentation Lublin Storehouse represents an essence of long-term activities of Ulrike Grossarth in Lublin, which reveal, expand and interpret the local lost cultural traditions, which were lost, the decorative arts production, and specific social climate. The lost fragmentsd photographs, snatches of texts, motifs of posters and shop signs as well as the design of textile materials and original clothing, served the author as the source material. From these, the author indicates the links and models an installation, complex in content and visually captivating, based on the interaction with the environment, the methods of empirical research as well as the reminders of Jewish mysticism. In the context of the multi-layered creative dialogue, the sincere attempt to name the neuralgic points of the history and to perceive the causal interconnectedness of the depressing current problems arising from the questions that were never asked and never answered is revealed in the environment of the gallery. With such painful exposure of multiple stimuli, it is easier to compare the causes and consequences of specific historical events and mainly to find the essence of the substance we all come from and is often referred to as the Central European cultural space.

The exhibition Ulrike Grossarth Lublin Storehouse in the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts is a part of the broader international project called Divided by Mountains / Connected through Past Lives. Within the framework of this project, an authorial presentation of Jan C. Löbl, the postgraduate student of the Faculty of Art and Design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, called V kabátu po dědovi (In the Grandpa’s Coat) is realized almost simultaneously in Runde Ecke exhibition space in cultural institution riesa efau in Dresden. This exhibition presents the results of his long-term research and creative evaluation of the traditions of textile production in Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains) which is connected mainly with the Sudeten Germans ethnic group.

press release
→ česky

The exhibition is a part of the project Divided by Mountains/Connected through Past Lives, which was supported within the framework of a project call for the project Czech-German Cultural Spring 2017.
The Czech-German Cultural Spring 2017 is a cross-border cultural initiative of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague, the Goethe Institut in Prague, the Czech-German Fund for the Future, and the Czech Centres in Berlin and Munich in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

The exhibition program of the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts is supported by the Faculty of Art and design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Czech-German Fund for the Future.