In the early years of modernism, artificial light was regarded as a symbol of modern life. Although life without artificial light is no longer conceivable today, it is also associated with light pollution and energy waste, despite technical advances and undeniable advantages. The exhibition and publication project Power! Light! at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg presents for the first time exclusively artistic positions that consciously focus on political, ecological, or social statements and critically comment on the use of light—and thus also in a figurative sense on the use of resources.
From Plato’s analogy of the sun and the early years of Christianity with the hope of a world in which there
would be “no more night,” light had positive connotations up until the twentieth century. Only with the invention of electric light did it acquire a negative connotation. In its most extreme application, people are even maltreated with light: The mental and physical agony of being at the mercy of a constant source of light is a means from the arsenal of the euphemistically dubbed “white torture.”
The exhibition Power! Light! differs essentially from light art shows realized thus far in that it does not seek the very large, comprehensive spectrum of all possible works of art in which electric light is used in any way. Instead, it concentrates on artistic positions in which the light or the works of light art are ascribed political, social, ecological, or economic statements in the broader sense. Building on selected works from the collection of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, a fascinating spectrum of works of light art will be presented in the museum’s darkened hall; the conceptual levels of reflection focus on the following (socio-)political areas: utopia/dystopia; ecology/biology; economy; violence/power; control/surveillance; advertising/manipulation; enlightenment/obscurity; border/exclusion; public space, etc.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive bilingual publication (German/English), published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and designed by Jan Kiesswetter, Berlin, with art historical, sociological, biological, theological, and philosophical contributions by Andreas Beitin, Holger Broeker, Jo Joelson, Annette Krop-Benesch, Christoph Markschies, Julia Otto, and Michael Schwarz.
Mathis Altmann, Siegrun Appelt, Awst & Walther, Maja Bajević, Matthias Berthold, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Monica Bonvicini, Daniel Canogar, Claire Fontaine, Jürgen & Nora Claus, Bill Culbert, Sven Drühl, Sam Durant, Olafur Eliasson, Patrick Fenech, Kendell Geers, Douglas Gordon, Tue Greenfort, Petrit Halilaj, Jeppe Hein, Georg Herold, Lori Hersberger, Gary Hill, Damien Hirst, Stephan Huber, Alfredo Jaar, Anne Marie Jugnet & Alain Clairet, John Knight, Brigitte Kowanz, Mischa Kuball, Dominik Lejman, Claude Lévêque, Los Carpinteros, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Mario Merz, Tatsuo Miyajima, molitor & kuzmin, Robert Montgomery, Heike Mutter und Ulrich Genth, Maurizio Nannucci, Bruce Nauman, Warren Neidich, Nana Petzet, Daniel Pflumm, Bettina Pousttchi, Tobias Rehberger, Bernardí Roig, Gregor Schneider, Paul Thek, Nasan Tur, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Timm Ulrichs, Mariana Vassileva, Peter Weibel, Cerith Wyn Evans et al.
With generous support from Zumtobel and LSW.
Curators: Andreas Beitin, Holger Broeker