Monitoring – Exhibition for Time-Based Media Art

The exhibition Monitoring presents artworks which include film, audiovisual, digital or media-critical approaches into Installation. It provides a forum for media art and presents well-established artists and promising up-and-coming talents. The thematic focus and the curatorial concept of the exhibition are composed based on received submissions of an open call by a Jury of cultural workers, artists, and curators. All works in the exhibition are nominated for the Golden Cube for the best media installation, which is endowed with 3,500 €. The award is donated by the software company Micromata GmbH.      

Golden Cube

All works selected for the exhibition Monitoring compete for the Golden Cube, the prize for the best media installation, endowed with 3.500 € and sponsored by the software company Micromata GmbH, located in Kassel.Next to the “White Cube” of the showroom of contemporary art and the “Black Cube”, the room of film presentation painted black, the “Golden Cube” takes in an in-between position and explicitly promotes the interaction of spatial and audio-visual aspects of media installations. The jury 2020 consisted of Amina Handke, Wolfgang Jung, Hermann Nöring, Marc Siegel and Clarissa Thieme.

Exhibition 2020

The exhibition Monitoring was established 25 years ago with the aim of opening up a space, alongside Kassel Dokfest’s comprehensive film program, for cinematic, audiovisual, digital and media-critical installations.

Due to legislation for infection control, this year’s edition, with the title “Soft Power,” had to be canceled. A large share of the artists was willing to have their works presented online. Though thankful for this openness, we must remember that this cannot replace a physical exhibition.

Monitoring presents installations that visitors experience in the space through their staging, their materiality and through the use of light and sound. The confrontation of the different artistic works allows new, complex stories to be told.

I would like to thank the artists and the entire team for their creativity and their tireless commitment in the last weeks and months. In order to draw attention to the situation artists are facing right now, the campaign “Ohne Kunst und Kultur wird’s still” (Without art or culture, it’s getting quiet) has already been started. We too would like to openly show solidarity with artists, filmmakers and all the other people who work in the cultural sector and are particularly affected by the present situation.

Lisa Dreykluft, Exhibition Management, Monitoring

 The preface to the exhibition can be found on page 148 in the festival catalog.


DIARIOS DE TRABAJOS consists of a collection of video diaries that Paula Ábalos has created since 2014 in Chile and later in Germany. In them, she documents her experiences with various mini-jobs that she has done in addition to her art practice to cover her living expenses. The diaries themselves serve as a kind of attempt to recover the lost time, in which the artist makes her physical labor available for business. With this action, Ábalos reclaims these hours – in the sense that they are not lost for her own artistic practice. This emphasizes not only the different rhythms of the individual activities, but also the artist’s attitude towards her work. They show the contrast between the impersonal appearance of her workplaces and her personal perception after spending hours at them. In these autobiographical videos, which she shot first with her cell phone and later with hidden cameras, Ábalos appears at work in a supermarket, a kitchen, a stadium and a logistics center. DIARIOS DE TRABAJOS corresponds to the reality of many artists who cannot cover their living costs with their art. It is a continuation of her work “No gracias / No thanks” (2015), in which Ábalos presents her side jobs as a student in Chile as a video diary. The project developed from the situation when, after a long period of service in the supermarket several days a week, she no longer had the time or energy to follow her artistic practice. As a promoter in the supermarket, the action is constantly repeated with the emphasis on smiling at each customer as he or she passes by. This video focuses on the body’s docility in this type of work, which is shaped and automated by repeating the same task for hours. Therefore, Ábalos decided to transform the space of her work into her studio and to materialize her observations in videos and notes. Methods that she still uses today in her professional life. (Diana Barbosa)

The fact that living under harsh environmental conditions requires enormous adaptability was demonstrated by Disney’s classic documentary „The Desert Lives“ as early as the 1950s, where a rebellious fauna defies the repellent Mojave Desert of California with survival. It is precisely this desert region and its landscapes that have served the Californian computer manufacturer Apple for several years as a source of inspiration for the names of its operating systems. And thanks to the fitting desert-motive wallpapers that come with the Apple operating systems, actors in the so-called creative industries – who represent a significant market share of Mac users – are immediately reminded of struggles for professional survival and against financial desertion due to precarious working conditions when they look at their computers. After all, in this Macintosh series of attractions in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley with its matching desert display has so far been omitted as the eponym. Artist Ale Bachlechner has already made an advance here with the setting of her video installation LIKE YOU REALLY MEAN IT (2020). A view of Death Valley reminiscent of the Appel aesthetics serves as a scenario for a self-optimization workshop for artists. Besides the workshop leader, the two participants Tracksuit and Naked Ape, all performed by Bachlechner herself, are beamed into this virtual but no less hostile landscape. The installation setting of the work invites the visitors to take a seat in the workshop seating circle. But once they have arrived in the desert, the protagonists demonstrate their adaptability and pioneering spirit: Acclimatized in the twinkling of an eye, they immediately get to work on clearing particularly bumpy spots in the wild landscapes of artistic self-marketing. Tracksuit: “Already early in the morning I think I have missed important things.” Thus, between Tracksuit and Naked Ape – a neoliberal, permanently exhausted reference of the US-American artist group Guerilla Girls (now more Mail Chimp than feminist gorilla) – a mountain of quotations piles up, which captivates through its extensive panorama: From artistic-critical reflections à la Vika Kirchenbauer on exploitative practices, also among artists, to optimization tips from talk master Oprah Winfrey, to Judy Robinell, an alchemist of numbers in networking (“at what intervals do I bother which of my contacts with newsletters, and how often?”). With her video installation, Ale Bachlechner cleverly and self-critically addresses not only working discourses within art. The drifts between postcapitalist devastation and hopeful mirages are staged in an incredibly entertaining way. At least this time: win-win instead of win-win-lose. (Kerstin Honeit)

CAUSALITY AND MEANING draws us into a flow of images that is as seductive as it is disturbing. In front of a virtual white background, logos, symbols, graphics, internet memes and high-gloss product worlds appear endlessly in succession. We are drawn into an irritating maelstrom of shapes and colors, computer-generated design, fetishized and politicized image worlds. A picture emerges before our eyes, a very concrete one. A reflection of our virtualized consumer culture – in which transhumanism, right-wing Internet and Meme culture, chauvinism and unbroken masculinity stereotypes, neoliberal consumption and violent entertainment culture seem to overwrite and reassign everything that could somehow be integrated into this series of pictures. And so CAUSALITY AND MEANING shows above all the irreversible connection between consumption and pop culture, politics and technology, over which we have long since lost control. But the more I let myself be drawn into the work, the less I understand. It leaves me helpless! Can all this be true? Is this really our world? It’s a false track on which this flow of images leads us. Because nothing about this work is coincidental. Not the selection of images. Not what seems to connect them. And also not what we read in them. The banal is dramatized, politicized and contextualized. But the work shows us only 635 images. From a flow of an infinite number of image worlds on the net. It is not about representation, but about the self-reflective construction of a perspective that is too seductive. It is the composition of the Cologne-based trombonist and experimental musician Matthias Muche, accompanied by spoken words of the British composer Anthony Moore, which in this work itself develops a very conscious and pointed counter-dynamic – and which keeps us back again and again and at a necessary distance. For they deceive, these images and signs. Because they are so changeable in their essence. Because there is no origin and no truth inscribed in their colors and forms. They only continue to refer to something else. They are simply construction. And so this work forces us to ask ourselves whether we really want to get involved with these constructions? Whether we can ascribe such power to the pictures and allow ourselves to be committed to such simplified readings? Isn’t it precisely the most important task of art to preserve the complexity and ambiguity of our visual worlds? To disappoint manipulative constructions and to vary and dissolve clear attributions? Because this is the only way we can counteract any power and control strategy, no matter how captious, in the age of the image. (Franz Reimer)

The film installation THE PLEASURE OF EXPENSE explores the concept of political gifts of culture and their role within national and political crisis. The historical case studies the artist draws on speak directly to the present moment, in which culture has become a battleground for the forces of populism in their systematic attack on critical thought, bringing once again to the fore the complex relationship between culture and the state. At the centre of the installation is a projection of a chapter from Cibic’s ongoing film project “The Gift”. Its narrative follows three characters, the allegorical Gifts of Art, Music and Dance, during a final round of the competition that seeks to identify a perfect gift to unite a divided nation. Here, we witness the chapter filmed inside the Palais des Nations in Geneva, which was built to house the League of Nations – the first attempt of transnationalism in Europe. The palace was constructed from gifts by member states – all antiquated donations of European patriarchal design. It is within this set that Cibic directs the monologue of a male allegory representing Cultural Diplomacy. As he wonders through the gilded palatial halls, he rhetorically styles his idea for the perfect gift of culture, that is supposed to reach and heal the people. His speech is accompanied by a violinist who performs one of the unrealised musical donations to the palace – an echo of his jarred political rhetoric. The film is projected within an immersive mural depicting modernist monuments, gifts of the state and its people to the antifascist struggle, another form of gifting to counteract nationalism – this time in the context of post WW2 Yugoslavia. Part of the production, in which an all-female operatic ensemble performs excerpts of political speeches made during key moments of sociopolitical crisis of the 20th century, cannot be shown due to the pandemic. As culture is threatened globally by the rise of right-wing nationalism, THE PLEASURE OF EXPENSE is a timely dissection of culture’s relationship with political power and the strategy of the political gift. As a tactic of soft power, the gifting of artistic and architectural works to ideological structures is essentially a tokenistic act. Entangling governments and citizens in a deliberate exploitation of culture for political benefit, the economy of gifting offers an enticing spectacle of benevolent solidarity.

“Let’s tie up our shirts and be cute” – these are reportedly the words of Britney Spears when it came to choosing an outfit for her first music video in 1999. With the rebellious look of a redesigned school uniform, Spears became world-famous in one fell swoop. In Marlene Denningmann’s work DRESSCODE UNIFORM, two young women who appear to be getting ready for school ask themselves: “Are we Instagram enough?” They decorate their faces with glittering stars, their hair is dyed, badges are attached to their jackets. If the school has a dress code, it is obviously broken here. Later, the two turn to the camera and describe one picture each. One shows Britney Spears in the aforementioned video for “… Baby One More Time”. The other – this much can be said – is the South African activist Zulaikha Patel. Between 2016 and 2018, Denningmann completed several research stays in Cape Town, where the artist worked with students in workshops and conducted interviews. This resulted in two video fragments and a publication that examines the school uniform in the field of tension between pop culture and colonialism, social media and activism. The publication functions here both as part of the work and as a footnote. In addition to lyrics from the Britney Spears hit and quotes from students, it contains a glossary that provides information on Cape Town’s demography, the languages spoken and the school system. The school uniform, introduced by the British colonial power, has never been abolished in South Africa. It comes with a set of rules for behavior on school grounds, a code of conduct that includes dress codes as well as hairstyle, make-up and language usage. For black students, this can mean that hairstyles like Afro or Braids are rebuked or even forbidden and they are not allowed to speak their native languages like isiXhosa. Zulaikha Patel has experienced the same thing. At the time when there was a protest against unequal access to education in South Africa under the hashtag #feesmustfall, the then 13-year-old led a peaceful protest at her school in Pretoria. She had been punished several times for wearing an Afro and now faced armed security guards at the school. The image of the young woman in school uniform with her fist raised went viral. This ultimately led to schools throughout the country changing their Eurocentric sets of rules. Marlene Denningmann was not allowed to use an original school uniform for her work. The school from which her workshop participants came did not want to risk any damage to their image. The two actresses had to wear blank jackets. The badges they put on their left breast pockets bear the words “Jurassic Patriarchy”. (Holger Jenss)

Our body, its senses and consciousness are arranged for an unlimited weave in Patricia Domínguez’s EYES OF PLANTS. From the first moment we know that we are entering a sensory journey that will lead us to multiple interpretations and relationships; to disorganizing and demystifying the taught and learned order, and to link again in multiple directions. Mutual interpretation that speaks to us of an up and down, the horizontal and the vertical, the hierarchical, and the holo-archical (1). The group of objects that resemble an entropic visual lexicon and those other systems and interpretations that appear in this piece are not finite or easily describable within a common historiographical sense. Pre-Columbian vessels with lines that whisper some secret from another dimension and the iconic duck shaped-pitchers – an expression of ceramics from the Diaguita culture – meander like spacecrafts across the screen. As soon as these geometric abstractions incorporate contemporary business men’s shirts, to give way for imagined rituals in this spiritual fiction that syncs the past with the future, I realise that more than simply trying to reveal something from a certain point of view, Patricia performs a mending exercise. The dislocation between the ancestral wisdom and contemporary thinking and action is no longer bearable. What we saw before as an avoidable diagnosis in order to get back to our smartphones, which make “this life” so comfortable, has set up an alarm, not only to warn us, but to push us to establish and rethink our relationship (in) to the world. According to Bruno Latour, the dialectic of nature/culture must cease to be understood as a relationship that implies opposition and choice, and above all, an imposition of one on the other, being clear which one is exercising the oppression (2). His proposal is that we ought to understand this relationship as a single concept. It is composed of two indivisible parts; human beings must stop being separated from nature, without thinking that this call means a setback for evolution. Native cultures evoke images with elements and practices that seek reestablishment and healing from nature. These visions plunged into transmodern dystopias regulated by anxiety and acceleration – the current linear modelcontrol the way we inhabit this multisystem. EYES OF PLANTS is a meditation that reminds us that our ancestors continue their lives through every living organism, their spirit and gesture transfer through the interpretation and ties that we make between different spheres of existence. A sensorial exercise that, far from presenting a diagnosis, arises as an offering to implied worlds that trigger us to open space in a rhizomatic way. To understand life and death, the invisible and hidden; to, hopefully, overcome the drowning of different beings, organisms and matters, and let them float in the reciprocity of something that is not a single one and is not everything. (Carolina Martínez)

(1) Ken Wilber. (1987). El paradigma holográfico. Barcelona: Editorial Kairós.

(2) Bruno Latour. (2017). Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climatic regime. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

The original text “A Holographic Offering as Restitution: The Spiritual Fiction from Patricia Domínguez” was commissioned by Svilova (Sweden) for the online screening of EYES OF PLANTS.

Commissioned by Gasworks London

A perfume is a liquid mixture, the production of which serves the purpose of producing pleasant odors. We have known about the fascination of the world of fragrances for a long time and at the very least since Patrick Süskind’s bestseller: The novel deals in detail with their complexity, their production process and their importance for interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, the craftsmanship of perfumery goes back to past advanced civilizations. The installation ALGORITHMIC PERFUMERY condenses the entire fascination that underlies perfumery and connects to its essence between art, technology and humanity by positioning itself at the same interfaces. First of all, the installation is a machine that uses the data input from its users to create a customized fragrance based on self-assessment. The machine processes this data and generates a personal code that is used to create a specific fragrance. To do this, it uses artificial intelligence: the system learns from each interaction and all interactions end with feedback, which is essential to measure the performance of the various algorithms. The installation thus proclaims the question of the extent to which humans become obsolete when technology is used for sensitive processes such as perfumery, which are supposedly linked to sensuality – but it also can’t do without human interaction: Its participatory form addresses the relationship between man and machine and thus confronts us with ourselves. The machine thus depends on its human counterpart’s eagerness for interaction and offers a variety of stimuli including curious mechanical sounds, rhythmic movements, luring scents, and pastel-colored liquids. What we experience is a conglomerate of synesthetic sensations in the likes of an expanded cinema. The participatory sphere offered by the installation confronts us with our relation to the ongoing mechanization of our world, and therefore with ourselves. It triggers our reward systems so obviously that it is solely our choice to engage, and equally our choice to provide the data it needs. Being a facilitation of the free-market dogma bluntly questions our willingness to concede to the meta-data dictate of contemporary consumerism. As the installation inquires after our personality traits and selfevaluations, it optimizes a market that depends on our urge to self-optimize. Simultaneously, ALGORITHMIC PERFUMERY is a subtle but no less provocative commentary on the art world and the value of art as such, as both too often submit to the market dictate. The machine’s sterile and artificial appearance is an antithesis to the organic and rich sensuality of perfume. Its clinical character rather resembles the relentless advancement of production automatization. Its appeal is in its postmodern coquetry with the abyss. But above all, it is a testament to complexity: the complexity of the machine, of dataflow, of our personality, and of scents is compressed into a discourse that eventually expresses the complexity of our times. (Julia Pirzer)

In 1953, when asked if she could „see“ him, deaf-blind Helen Keller puts both her hands on the face of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower holds still; his own hands crossed behind his back, he reveals his face to touch. This encounter is one – certainly a particularly intense one – of about 70 scenes that can be seen in CIRCLES I by Jonas Englert, which in seven different cycles combines physical interactions of political figures like a round dance. The found footage is only a fraction of the more than 1,000 scenes that Englert collected during his two years of work on the project and brought together to form an archive of contact – a meticulous, almost overwhelming work of research. Englert’s composition is as detailed in its conception as it is eclectic: The actors pass on their touches across contexts, decades and continents. The artist literally makes the images and their bodies dance, letting them flow across the screens in a constantly repeating whirlpool, without them knowing a central or fixed point. This model of order, which does not follow chronology, but rather touch, brings out of joint what we normally tell each other. Instead of the usual linear of a before and after, CIRCLES creates surprising simultaneities and connections. For the fact that the flickering circles are so captivating is mainly due to the fact that they cannot simply be described as “fictitious” – all encounters have certainly taken place, the touch is not any, but rather those stored in the collective memory, whose images we know as part of a certain event, as a vehicle of a certain meaning. In this way, these very events, these meanings and memories are set in motion with the bodies. The touches that Englert brings together here are of course symbolically and strategically staged and, above all, medialized. And yet there is more to such interaction than its purely representative character, more than its symbolic meaning. That the encounter between Keller and Eisenhower seems so strange, so curious, is not only due to the touch of the face. The actual tension of the touch, which is inherent in this scene and which is capable of taking Englert’s work to the extreme, lies in the clash of two apparently opposing spheres: representation, staging, the symbolic on the one hand and the immediate, the corporeal, the unpredictable on the other. A shortened version of Ramona Heinlein’s speech on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “Circles” on October 31, 2019, as part of the Jewish Culture Weeks at the Kunstverein EBENE B1 in Frankfurt am Main.

“To understand the conditions of how capitalism operates, I decided to go entrepreneur style,” states the witch in Michel Esselbrügge’s comic chamber play. She wants to undermine the system from within, she says. The freelancers working on a project basis at Witchcraft Trend Forecast (WTF) disagree about the intentions of their boss; her critical pose could only be a strategy to give the agency an edgy image. They quickly realize that WTF is just as fucked up as anywhere else – even though the boss is a witch! On mobile devices we accompany the two freelancers through scenes of their lives between neoliberalism, wellness, precarity, lifestyle and morning yoga. The seemingly great job and the world of endless possibilities that opens up quickly turns out to be a precarious pre-apocalyptic lifestyle. Everyone is responsible for their own well-being and support from institutions is no longer available in this cruel world. Precariousness becomes a trend, breakfast at the desk becomes a desk party, employees become freelancers, work becomes leisure and leisure becomes work. The sudden appearance of a virus disrupts this constant cannibalization of social life by capitalism. Did the witch have something to do with the Freelance Apocalypse or was it the Internet itself that collapsed, got data diabetes and clogged arteries from selfies and avocado toast pics? The infection with the virus is also making itself felt on our mobile devices. Visual distortions, doubling and color effects overlay the original comic image and let the events from the comic spill over into our world. The story is fed by Esselbrügge’s own experiences – things he has experienced, heard and read. The world he developed for LINK IN BIO is not unlike the world he lives in: agencies prefer to work with freelancers on a project basis rather than hire them; large corporations exploit subcultural aesthetics for their advertising campaigns; and private data from social media profiles are abused for commercial and political purposes. With the help of the comic filter, Esselbrügge creates a sharp image of the conditions of today’s creative work with all its promises, magic and buggy wifi. (Anna-Lisa Scherfose)

In an interview survey on her legendary MoMA performance “The Artist Is Present” (2010), Marina Abramović reports that during this marathon happening – contrary to what the title of the work suggests – she was actually not really present at all. At least not mentally. Rather, she spent her two-month long stay in the renowned New York museum in a state of mental absence – in what she calls a permanent out-of-body experience. Ten years later, in his video work THE ARTISTS ARE NOT PRESENT (2020), which takes its title from Abramović’s, artist Mazen Khaddaj addresses a completely different kind of absence in art institutions: Namely the current pandemicrelated absence of artists and their art. The natural and opulent presence of various forms of artistic articulation has given way to a massive absence, fed by countless empty spaces – an immense caesura for cultural workers in particular and for societies in general. Khaddaj concretely illustrates this absence in the rooms of an international artist-in-residence program at the climax of the lockdown in Leipzig. Through a single camera shot we see a light-flooded hall in which Khaddaj prances all alone through orphaned studios – visibly somewhat untrained in the art of spontaneous choreography, but with a wonderful grace of his own. And far and wide no other artists are to be seen. He looks touchingly lost, which is not only due to his physical nakedness, which is only covered by the obligatory mouth and nose protection and disposable gloves. As a local artist who is familiar with the area and who has been through the residency program himself, he should have been here to look after his international colleagues. Instead, he patters ballet-like across the concrete floor of the empty studios, apparently anxious not to be thrown off track by the scale of the pandemic. At least not for the length of this song of hope, which is so beautifully painful intoned by Lebanon’s star voice Fairuz for the performance for the camera. No, let’s put it differently: Khaddaj gives everything he has: his body, his emotions, his strength, which seems to dwindle visibly as the song goes on. He dances on behalf of all artists who are invisible at the moment. Who cannot take residencies, have no exhibitions, despite years of preparation, and cannot even pursue their shitty paid side-jobs, with which they otherwise finance their own selfexploitation. It is a poignant dance of solidarity not to forget us artists in our absence. The whole thing could become quite kitschy, but – thanks to Khaddaj – the performance is, besides its tragedy, also extremely funny and full of clever pirouettes of self-irony.

Funded by the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony.

Music: ”Eh Fi Amal” by Fairuz

In the age of climate change and the resulting intensification of water conflicts, the importance of vital water resources is moving into focus worldwide. The large-scale three-channel video projection NILAND conveys impressive, atmospherically dense landscapes from the Southern Californian hinterland, which are characterized by the dreariness of the man-made natural disasters around the Salton Sea. Georg Klein, who also investigates socio-political structures inscribed in the environment in other works such as “European Border Watch” or “Ramallah Tours”, deliberately concentrates in NILAND, beyond concrete geopolitical narratives, on the generally valid depiction of a landscape interspersed with monotonous canals. Gigantic quantities of water flood dried-up land, making tangible the power structures and economic interests hidden behind them. At the center of perception is the four-channel sound composition that Klein developed in cooperation with Ulrich Krieger. Drown-out tones, so-called drone sounds, which Krieger generates not only electronically, but in a very individual style analogous through a saxophone and superimposed in many layers, create the oppressive soundscape for this unreal environment. Klein, whose work is largely the result of the development of musical composition, partially underlays these extraordinary sounds with field recordings to create a remarkable sound experience. A collage-like sequence of archive material is added to these sensitive impressions. This shows that the Salton Sea, which is one of the largest inland lakes in the USA, was created as early as 1905 by a dam burst and served as a bathing paradise from the 1920s to the 1970s. Thereafter, the rising salt content combined with the increasing concentration of fertilizers and pesticides from the surrounding agriculture poisoned the lake water to such an extent that flora and fauna were almost completely destroyed. The fields directly adjacent to it will continue to be operated at maximum profit. And while the water for this is diverted before the border with Mexico, Mexicans are used as cheap harvest helpers. The post-apocalyptic scenarios on the shores of the Salton Lake with their remains of massive fish mortality and the abandoned settlements of Salton City, Bombay Beach or Niland form the sad climax of this successful overall composition. In his work, Georg Klein impressively sketches how human mismanagement over long periods of time can lead to unforeseeable natural catastrophes which, in their irreversibility, will present many generations with unsolvable tasks in the future. (Olaf Val)

In 1989 the ARD broadcast the “Tatort”-thriller episode “Der Pott”. We see an exhausted criminal chief inspector Horst Schimanski in front of the television. He’s watching the news, which for weeks has been reporting on a strike: workers demonstrate against the closure of a steel mill. The images that appear on the television-in-television seem real. And they are simultaneously re-staged in their appropriation. The “Tatort” scene refers to the labor dispute at the Krupp iron and steel mill in Duisburg-Rheinhausen that actually took place a year and a half before – it was the biggest labor dispute in postwar German history. The crane operator Erich Speh and some of his colleagues had founded the “Offener Kanal Rheinhausen”, an open channel for documenting the events and establishing a media counter-public sphere. Jan-Luca Ott, in close cooperation with the Offener Kanal video archive, digitized 800 hours of video material and archived it in the archive of the Rheinhausen Iron and Steelworks and Mines. In his two-channel video for two tube screens WORKERS LEAVE THE FACTORY FOR GOOD, the artist juxtaposes the original images with those of the television production. Video recordings of workers’ leader Helmut Laakmann’s incendiary speeches brought the workers’ struggle to the media public in 1987. In “Tatort”, Laakmann’s film identity Heinz Hoettges is played by Christoph Lindert, who speaks to the workers/ extras at the original location after a solidary concert by Rio Reiser (starring as himself). Through the temporal proximity, the boundaries between reality and fiction – in which the labor dispute serves as the backdrop for a violent crime – are blurry. Erich Speh films the shooting and interviews both Lindert and Laakmann. These scenes also flow into Ott’s image analysis. Lindert/ Laakmann think it is good that “Tatort” broaches the issue of the workers’ struggle, but they are thrown into the spotlight when asked what they think about the fact that the TV-version focuses on violent clashes between police and demonstrators – which never happened in reality. It is just a film, a “copy” that “builds” its own reality. In the end, however, it will be the images from “The Pot” that will remain in the collective German memory, and not Speh’s. In “Workers Leave the Factory” Harun Farocki already asked about the representational potential of film material in 1995. The early film of the same name by A. Lumière did not succeed in drawing the attention of the cinema to the factory and its workers, even though they were the first subject of a film camera ever. Ott takes up Farocki’s title and spins his thoughts further. By renegotiating and “reclaiming” these images, the focus is again directed to their subject and their struggle: workers leave the (dream) factory for good. (Eva Scharrer)

The app “Deal with it!” takes on the task of dealing with colonial monuments and Nick Schamborski’s explanatory video from the TESTING TRIXIE series demonstrates the app’s individual functions using the example of the Braunschweig colonial monument. The design is cheerful, the birds are singing in the green, and we are to click forward to the next video if we like it. Instead of a desktop movie, we see a cell phone screen movie, a screencast in portrait format. In the cell phone, a live video recording is edited with the app functions, and with this, the test object is changed, because, as the app warned us: Virtual changes may affect reality. Which reality? Since 1925, the block with the relief of a lion whose paw rests on the globe has commemorated the soldiers who died in the colonies during World War I and for colonial revisionism. It was designed by architect Herman Flesche, early member of the NSDAP and SS, later professor in Braunschweig and holder of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and was modeled by Jakob Hoffmann, who also had a career in the Nazi regime. It stands in the city that first organized German citizenship for an Austrian painter in 1932 so that he could become a Führer. Here the monument remained practically untouched, with the exception of an initiative by school students in 2006, until, in 2004, during the memorial year of the German genocide against the Herero and Nama in “Deutsch-Südwest” (the German colony in southwest Africa), graffiti sprayers and a group of peace activists superseded the annual city wreath-laying ceremony. To this day, local politicians and historians claim that history cannot be rewritten, i.e. the block cannot be removed. But monuments have always been moved and removed, and they themselves have always rewritten history. Schamborski’s Trixi Test channel shows that monuments, too, do not document history, but that they invent it themselves, and that this rewriting in all media, from stone to bits and bytes, is only a moment in the history of the present – to this day. Stylized buttons of his AR app lead to applications of rage, spray cans, leviation, concealment, etching, projections of historical-documentary photos or to his own Black Live’s Matter banners. A personalized application tool executes the functions, climbs, kicks, veils, conducts in the air, measures out, is itself the erasing Photoshop stamp. The cell phone shot in portrait format, a guarantee for liveliness and authenticity, is edited before our eyes and the effectiveness of the functions is evaluated. The reality is not virtual, it is augmented, enriched with reflection, aesthetics and action. The city has now considered giving “artistic irritations” the task of dealing with the monument; Schamborski warns against both the functionalization of art and mere clicktivism, and questions the relevance of the digital in public space, where violence is still as physically real as it is augmentedly real. Historical “education” is easy and lies in our hands. Deal with it: Download, augment, and share. (Ulrike Bergermann)

Michael Jackson was spotted in Dubai, Norway, Mexico, Spain as well as at the airports in Sydney, Dublin, Manchester, Las Vegas and Miami, among others, after his alleged faked death in 2009. Also on the South Island of New Zealand and in the queue in front of the Black Mamba roller coaster at Phantasialand near Cologne. IN ANTICIPATION OF A NIGHT gathers theories about stars who allegedly faked their own death to start a new life, and places them in the scenery of a night ride through Google Street View image sequences. Robin Stretz has collected stories about various celebrities through online fan forums. They all resemble each other in the banality of their information about the details of the protagonists’ lives and in the simplicity of the life they are said to have found after their disappearance. Thus, these theories testify to an almost innocent longing for privacy and simplicity, but at the same time they are mirrors of fan mania and star cult as an escape mechanism for their readers. IN ANTICIPATION OF A NIGHT explores a contradictory desire for fame and privacy, for simplicity and invisibility. The title of the work is based on Stan Brakhage’s film “Anticipation of the Night” (1958), in whose last scene Brakhage feigns his own death and that of the protagonist at the same time. Authorship, the gaze of the camera and the viewer is a frequent theme in Brakhage’s films. IN ANTICIPATION OF A NIGHT renegotiates this by collaging found street views. Like a stop-motion film, the images follow the street in the dark and turn it into a nighttime ride in which the viewer mutates into a first-person driver, driving down the street himself/herself as the hero of the film. The material for this work is actually exclusionary, because normally the cameras on the Google vehicles are only used for recordings at daytime. These shots were created by human error and were accidentally added to Street View. Usually they are quickly replaced by daytime views, but through intensive research Stretz found and collected those “errors”. In the meantime, Google has automated the function of its cameras on car roofs – in the future there will be no more night shots. (Anna-Lisa Scherfose)

when this all collapses, how do we

TERRARISTA TV is an artist-run online streaming channel. Organized collectively, we create a symbiotic organism to critically engage with the inadequacy of the term ‘Anthropocene’ as we shift in questions towards terrestrial dissident bodies, waste, animals, machines and problems of planetary consciousness. Emerging from the attempt to find new ways of communication during the pandemic, TERRARISTA TV actively seeks to support more symbiotic and empathetic ways of existence with the current realities. TERRARISTA TV examines problems of logistical capitalism, racial capitalocene, environmental injustice and ecological crises, alongside the living earth that defends itself with its myriad of geological, biological and meteorological forces. We dare ourselves to imagine the crumbling of the West. Starting from our present realities, TERRARISTA TV builds on moods of dystopia, terror, horror, virusousity, disintegration, collapse, decay, militancy and parasitism while amplifying utopian visions of alternative and possible futures, entering the unsettled, the unknown. Exploring abstraction, intimacy, interconnection and indeterminacy - those gluely fibers vast in multitudes and in smallest particles. It looks at the current collective endeavors that dive deep into the technologization and machinization of bodies and ecology while revisiting our understanding of agency in ultimately biological modes of existence. “We have to begin to think of life with toxicity, and without banishment. We can do this by openly discussing, as a global conversation, and with the self-knowledge of a civilization that this banishment is a cruelty and a folly.” - Raqs Media Collective

Nicolas Wefers’ photographic examination, which was developed over a period of two years under the title DIE BESTÄNDIGKEIT DES ENTWURFS (The Consistency of the Design), deals with the staging of power on the basis of national monuments and the self-representation of visitors in front of these seemingly unreal places today. Their former function, the display of the power of historical personalities as places of worship, is giving way to a remaining backdrop for Sunday excursions and tourist attractions. What critical debate emerges in the current handling of national monuments, and how are domination and power staged within the everyday culture? At the beginning of his research on 19th century monument culture, Wefers came across the Adlerbogen on Donnersberg Mountain. Within the framework of the Adlerbogenfest in June 2016, two newly made statues were ceremonially placed on both anchors of the arch. They represent General Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke and Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The original statues were destroyed by American soldiers after the Second World War. The eagle that gave the statue its name was restored in the 1960s and placed on the apex of the steel arch. The reconstruction of a monument from the imperial era and the authoritarian ideology associated with it is irritating – in times when nationalism and xenophobia became once again “acceptable” in politics and the press. While the “refugee crisis” reached its temporary peak, a monument representing militarism and isolationism was rededicated in the Palatinate without questioning it in any way. Wefer’s documentation of the placement of the statues marked the beginning of a new way of working for him. The artist constructs new images from the photographic material collected during extensive research and several hours on site. Small, sometimes mundane stories are combined into a detailed overall composition and mood – similar to classical history or landscape painting. A recurring motif is the photographer as a reference to a contemporary phenomenon that is also part of our culture of memory. The imposing architecture of the monuments functions as a staging of the “self” that can be seen as a reflection of today’s society. In the series, which includes the works “Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal”, “Porta Westfalica”, “Hermanns-Denkmal, Detmold”, “Bismarck-Denkmal, Hamburg”, and “Bismarckturm, Lützschena/Stahmeln”, the focus is on the phenomenon of self-staging in front of precisely these national monuments.

Farid Yahaghi’s work LIMBO is composed of his personal and visual diary. The diary documents his five-month journey between his current home Montreal and his home town Mashhad in Iran. Every day Yahaghi took two self-portraits to capture the growth of his facial hair and build a visual narrative of his experiences. However, the time in the video does not only run in one direction. As he speaks, his hair gradually disappears until he is completely bald. The reverse time challenges the chronological sequence throughout the video. The other crucial element in this work is the question of space. Since it is addressed in the text that is recited, a feeling of confusion and uncertainty about being here and/or there is expressed throughout the video. “Don’t know where I belong. Though longing to move forward, but my memories keep dragging me back, far away from home, floating between the two worlds, lost in a limbo.” This is indeed one of the mental problems that many immigrant people in particular have. The questions of „home“ and the feeling of belonging to several places are some of the complicated issues the artist has been dealing with in recent years. The interactive installation challenges the viewer to stop the playback at any time during the video and to move forward or backward in time frame by frame. On each image, the date, local time and the exact location where the selfies were taken are added. In addition, the thoughts of Yahaghi and his feelings at the moment of photography are added as short notes. Therefore, the frames of the pictures not only play their role as short units of time and movement, but also represent specific periods in journey. In this way, everyone can follow the stages of the travel, but can only guess at the formative experiences that were had there. (Diana Barbosa)

Selection Committee

Diana Barbosa
LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International

Lisa Dreykluft
Head of Monitoring

Kerstin Honeit
Artist / Assistant Professor, Kunsthochschule Kassel

Holger Jenss
Artist / Assistant Professor, Kunsthochschule Kassel

Franz Reimer
Artist / Curator

Anna-Lisa Scherfose

Olaf Val
Artist / Board Member, Kasseler Kunstverein / Associate Professor, Kunsthochschule Kassel

Gerhard Wissner Ventura
Head of Kassel Dokfest

Cat Woywod
Studierende, Kunsthochschule Kassel  

Head of Monitoring: Lisa Dreykluft

Technical management: Kristin Meyer, Assistant: Annagenia Jacob 

Exhibition review

36. Kasseler Dokfest | Monitoring – Ausstellung für Medieninstallationen

The award winners of the past editions

2020: Paula Ábalos DIARIOS DE TRABAJOS 2019: Kapwani Kiwanga THE SECRETARY'S SUITE 2018: Grace Philips, Laurie Robins REAL PERFORMANCE 2017: Ralph Schulz TESTIMONIALS 2016: Lotte Meret SURFACE GLACE 2015: Gerald Schauder SKULPTUR21 2014: Bertrand Flanet: UNMANNED DISTANCES 2013: !Mediengruppe Bitnik: DELIVERY FOR MR. ASSANGE 2012: Emanuel Mathias NEBAHATS SCHWESTERN 2011: Anu Pennanen LA RUINE DE REGARDE 2010: Lukas Thiele / Tilman Hatje WELTMASCHINE

Honorable mention of the past editions

2020: Mazen Khaddaj THE ARTISTS ARE NOT PRESENT 2019: Clarissa Thieme Can't You See Them? – Repeat. 2018: Wermke/Leinkauf 4. HALBZEIT 2017: Marlene Maier FOOD ONLY EXISTS IN PICTURES 2016: Jolander Gsponder / Yves Netzhammer / Annette Brütsch / u.a. PETER LIECHTI – DEDICATIONS 2015: Kerstin Honeit Talking Business 2014: Daniel Laufer REDUX 2013: Franz Christoph Pfannkuch γαλαξίας (GALAXIS) 2011 Ryota Kuwakubo THE TENTH SENTIMENT 2010: Anthony McCall LEAVING [WITH TWO-MINUTE SILENCE]


Lisa Dreykluft 

Head of Monitoring

Exhibition Locations

Kasseler Kunstverein
Fridericianum, Friedrichsplatz 18

Kulturbahnhof Kassel
Rainer-Dierichs-Platz 1

Rainer-Dierichs-Platz 1


Monitoring archive