Tilman Hornig

Watching in horror: New Scenario talk chaos, collapse & COVID-19 in this time after post-internet to launch their t-shirt collaboration with AQNB

9 July 2020

“The art world has never felt more boring,” write Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig matter-of-factly via email about the “uninspired, conservative, clumsy and market-driven” way many of the major galleries and institutions responded to the far-reaching ramifications of pandemic. “The only real exciting and inspiring intervention was Travis Scott’s appearance on Fortnite.” As the clever minds behind the online exhibition space New Scenario, the two German artists know what they’re talking about. Launched in 2015 with a group show called C R A S H—installed in a Hummer limousine and viewable only via its documentation—the project was one of the first to take seriously the idea of the internet as a viable (and interesting) alternative to the white cube.

Anne Fellner in C R A S H (2015). Installation view. Photo by Stefan Haehnel. Courtesy New Scenario.

It isn’t without irony then that New Scenario announced they were shutting down their URL archive in mid-April—along with the countless IRL art spaces around the world—in response to lockdown measures, announcing, “Due to the current Corona crisis this website is closed until further notice.” But then the work of the duo has never been anything if not unexpected. Approaching each project like a sort of film production—where a given scene would be the set, with contributing artists its actors—projects included paintings displayed in a dinosaur park, a series of texts written in response to a video, and a hyper-staged depiction of a university zombie apocalypse viewable through a virtual tour.

Their most memorable work, however, is surely Body Holes, notorious for having the miniature work of 46 artists and collectives inserted into one of seven human orifices, photographed and then displayed online. Commissioned as part of the DIS-curated 9th Berlin Biennale in 2016, the show was part of what’s regarded as a watershed moment of the post-internet art scene, with Body Holes’ heady lineup of recognisable names from that generation mirroring that of the BB9 programming. It’s from that project that New Scenario offers their generous contribution to AQNB’s current Patreon subscription drive, with our first artist edition merchandise collaboration, ‘New Scenario x AQNB—Bodyholes Green Ear Limited Edition‘ available for preorder until July 31.

Taken from the original collection of images by artists like Pakui Hardware, Sean Raspet, Michele Gabriele, and Jesse Darling, among others, Hornig’s ‘Green Ear’ is one of the less confronting placements of works otherwise exhibited in anonymous, mouths, anuses, vaginas. The project—viewable by going to the BB9 website and clicking on ‘FINGER ME’—evokes a sense of both beauty and disgust, with a light touch of nihilist irony and absurdism that has come to define New Scenario.

Tilman Hornig, ‘Green Eat’ (2015). Photo by the artist & Paul Barsch. Courtesy New Scenario.

**This sort of ‘horrified fascination’ surfaces in a number of your projects, which makes me think about the notion of taboo and a sort of emotional ambivalence. Is this approach perhaps reflective of a more general ambivalence to the way the art world operates?

New Scenario: Hard question. Our projects are in a way also a reflection on the art world and how stiff, structured, exclusionary, unimaginative and mostly boring it is. With Body Holes, we followed the question of whether the human orifices, and thus something very intimate and relatable, can function as practical art spaces. That’s not so much as talking about the body (of course, it does also) but more of making the viewer themself the host for the exhibition—shifting and scaling the exhibition space from external to internal—and more generally asking: could every imaginable ‘space’ be a space for art?’

Our intention really was not to break or explore some taboo. Of course, showing human orifices is a difficult topic depending on where you look but we tried to keep a neutral analytical approach and block out the usual concerns and cultural implications, because it was not about showing the orifice but about showing artworks in that space.

**I ask because of this ‘anti-not-anti’ attitude to the white cube of the New Scenario project. Now that the online has become the norm—however, clumsily—amongst art institutions in response to social distancing, you’ve shut down the site. Is this simply a contrarian, or reactionary impulse, or is there more to it?

NS: After witnessing Koenig’s first moving attempts to livestream on Instagram, and other big institutions to open clumsy online viewing rooms, we thought, ‘this is it, we are closing the website’. If all these people move online now, we have to be a step ahead. It was obvious how little thought was ever given to what happens, or had happened in the online part of the (art) world. The crisis really showed how uninspired, desperate, pressured and fragile the art system is. You could see how desperate even the blue chips were by ‘helping’ with exposure for their mid-tier harvesters, probably fearing for their base to disappear under the financial impact of the COVID crisis.

HOPE, Lecture Hall (2017). Detail. Courtesy New Scenario.

The closing of the website was also an attempt to take the situation seriously, and also apply the concept of the lockdown to the digital space; to deprive IRL viewers of the possibility to access the online platform; to show that these spaces are connected and one should not take anything for granted. It makes (no) sense to do this, but this is a reflection of what happened elsewhere. The art world simply replicated their IRL models in the digital realm. Art Basel viewing rooms, really? It felt like some kind of mindless, abrupt ‘gentrification’ was happening, and we wanted to shield our precious platform from being a cheap template for a business model.

Of course, the internet is not a playground and ‘no-rules’ place anymore. A lot of the IRL structures and real-world problems and power plays have taken over, as it has never been independent and decoupled from the analogue world. If you don’t pay your hosting, your domain doors get closed. But still, the virtual realm allows for far more possibilities in shaping it as a space for art than what the big players of the art world presented in response to this situation. To see this, was in a way very sad and eye-opening. It’s as if the many collective achievements and long history of online art projects had never existed.  

 **Another reason it occurred to me that you’d be taking this moment to go offline, is New Scenario was arguably one of the first to exhibit and document exclusively online. Katja Novitskova recently said on AQNB’s Artist Statement podcast that the aesthetics of post-internet were taken and made into a gimmick. Do you think this approach to documenting and exhibiting online has also become a gimmick?

NS: Back then, when artists started to document their exhibitions to be viewed and shared online, a lot of people thought this was just a nice but unimportant gimmick. But it was a conscious and serious move, and likewise the development of the documentation. That’s why emerging online projects (and post-internet) had such an impact.

Jesse Darling, ‘3rd Eye Deepsea Buttplug’ (2016). Photo by Tilman Hornig & Paul Barsch. Courtesy New Scenario. Jesse Darling

Today, a lot of shows are produced IRL for the main reason to present them online. It has become a natural thing, and there are a lot of really nice approaches, projects and concepts out there. A lot has happened since. People realize that you don’t really need a gallery or an institution to display your art. You can bypass the system in some way, and also reach wider audiences online, if you put some thought into your projects and their presentation. We don’t know if this praxis of showing online even bears the potential of gimmicky-ness. It’s a common praxis that nobody even questions anymore. There is potential of changing the ways we view, and share, and distribute art, opening up possibilities of access and participation for groups of people that were otherwise excluded before.

**It’s interesting then, that you chose an image from 2016’s Body Holes from DIS’ 9th Berlin Biennale, which refers back to what many regard as the peak (and ultimate end) of post-internet. Perhaps, it parallels this idea of online and distributed art production and engagement having finally been exhausted and losing some kind of relevance?

NS: We think it was more like everybody wanted it to be the peak, and took the opportunity of the biennale’s exposure to declare it the end. We felt like post-internet had challenged established definitions of what art was back then (and how art should work, and look, and be looked at). A lot of artists and people in the art world had trouble wrapping their heads around this and integrating it into their concepts of art that they had struggled for years to digest, absorb, and be able to navigate.

The label post-internet quickly developed an Eigenleben [life of its own] and people got hooked or offended by its surface aesthetics to the extend that most people denied it any content, substance and agency. What is left today, and what you see in newer works that are inspired by early post-internet art, are exactly these hollow formalistic gestures. The essence of post-internet was never in the surface, and all the artists from that time still do amazing work, just not under this label.

Pakui Hardware, ‘Eurecstasy’ (2016). Photo by Tilman Hornig & Paul Barsch. Courtesy New Scenario.

Early post-internet challenged this stupid conception that political or critical art has to look ‘rusty’, ‘beaten up’, or handmade, stuff like that. It was not about ‘the internet’, or the transformation of art from real to virtual, or vice versa. It was about using the internet as a tool for production, research, distribution, interaction in real life and online at the same time, as we understood it. For the younger generation this seems self-evident nowadays. 

 **In a 2017 interview with AQNB, you referred to “this strange hopelessness and helplessness that seems to be omnipresent, that in extreme ways manifests in a death wish hope that only total chaos and collapse can bring change and a better life”. Is this moment of rupture—being pandemic, protest, political upheaval—making you rethink your approach? Are you optimistic? 

NS: This was said in reference to the project HOPE and its general reference to apocalyptic narratives, fake news, preppers, conspiracy theories that made the subject of the ‘zombie’ interesting and relevant. The current global situation shows clearily our fragile and unstable systems and the whole spectrum of stupidity and absurdity of the human existence. And, yes, we are optimistic, for the art world to collapse ;)**

The New Scenario x AQNB—Bodyholes Green Ear Limited Edition t-shirt collaboration is available for pre-order online until July 31, 2020.

Memory (2016) exhibition photos

8 November 2016

The Memory group exhibition at Stockholm’s Loyal Gallery ran from September 1 until October 8, 2016.

Curated by Daniel Iinatti, the multi-media installation of painting and sculpture featured work by Ivana Basic, Duda Bebek, Alfred Boman, Viktor Fordell, Dorota Gaweda, Tilman Hornig, Egle Kulbokaite, Jaakko Pallasvuo and Emelie Sandström.

Duda Bebek, Frida (2016). Installation view. Photo by Ari King. Courtesy the artist and LOYAL, Stockholm
Duda Bebek, Frida (2016). Installation view. Photo by Ari King. Courtesy the artist and LOYAL, Stockholm

The show was centred around a text in the press release that looked at Memory through the body of a retired old man, finding peace among chaos:

“His loved ones have passed away and he spends his days organizing his belongings over and over, recreating the memories of his younger hippie days. Main interests include medievalism, skin care, jewelry, listening to trance compilations, meditation, botanics.”**

The Memory group exhibition was on at Stockholm’s Loyal Gallery running from September 1 until October 8, 2016.

Header image: Alfred Boman + Jaakko Pallasvuo in Memory (2016). Installation view. Photo by Ari King. Courtesy the artists + LOYAL, Stockholm.

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Tilman Hornig back to painting (2016) exhibition photos

6 July 2016

Back to Painting, a solo show by Tilman Hornig ran from January 23 to March 12, 2016, at Dresden’s Galerie Gebr. Lehmann displays two different bodies of work by the artist, who last month curated online group show Body Holes with Paul Barsch for online platform New Scenario.

The works in the gallery face each other, reverse glass paintings depicting motifs of wild roses on the right-hand side of the space, and hand-engraved, high-end WLAN routers that are mounted onto mirrors via magnets and incorporate phrases and words like “people are living in underground, in little individual ‘cells’, without having any direct contact with each other” on the left.

Tilman Hornig, 'The Newromanzer' (2015 - ongoing). Installation view. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gebr. Lehmann
Tilman Hornig, ‘The Newromanzer’ (2015 – ongoing). Installation view. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gebr. Lehmann.

For a long period of time Hornig has been painting what he terms “reverse glass paintings” (and groups under the title ‘The Newromanzer’ —a fitting follow up from the phrase New Scenario) upon which he paints dried flowers taken from what one can assume are zoomed in scenes of wild suburbia. In fact, the way the artist has installed these panels, inserted into the backs of old windows that act like frames, evokes the kind of nostalgia that seems deeply rooted in the image and the idea of long streets of semi detached houses and semi detached doors.

The show’s accompanying press release is a short text written by the artist emphatically using the first person to describe what and why these works exist. Hornig extends the sentiment by mentioning to aqnb that the motif of a wild rose painted on a neon shimmering background “functions like a modern answer to our romantic need”.

On the other side of the wall are the group of inscribed routers ‘TXT on Devices’ (2015) with their words described by Hornig as ‘self-written’ and used by the artist to carry his messages, albeit here, on the shiny and reflective surface. One reads:

“We are a proven supplier to service providers across the globe, able to integrate the solutions in a minimum of time in order to avoid the six–gestures-habitats. But when the machine stops, nothing will happen.”**

Tilman Hornig’s Back to Painting was on at Dresden’s Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, running January 23 to March 12, 2016.

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Joachim Coucke @ Yoko Uhoda Gallery, Jun 9 – Jul 7

6 June 2016

Artist Joachim Coucke is presenting solo exhibition, Deeper Minds, at Liège’s Yoko Uhoda Gallery, opening June 9 and running to July 10.

The Deeper Minds press release deals with thinking about where the decisions we make and the data produced by the things we search for goes and gets stored when we are active online. It wonders about how far this kind of information and intelligence-building can go, before reminding us: “remember, you are what you like. We are the deeper minds”.

On the theme of activating yourself with what you ‘like’ then, Belgian-based Coucke has extended the invitation to fellow artists Kareem Lotfy, Tilman HornigFederico Acal, Liesbeth Doms, Olga Fedorova, Spiros Hadjijanos, and Xavier Mary to also show work in the space.

See the Yoko Uhoda Gallery website for more details.**

Xavier Mary, Highway Star (2014). Courtesy the artist and Albert Baronian Gallery
Xavier Mary, ‘Highway Star’ (2014). Installation view. Courtesy the artist and Albert Baronian Gallery.

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Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig, Episode 4: Bathroom (2015) documentation

1 June 2016

Episode 4: Bathroom, curated by Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė, brought together artists Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig at Münchenstein’s OSLO1O in Switzerland, which ran from November 25, 2015, to January 25, 2016. Under the topic of ‘Bathroom’, devised by “post-gender avatar” and curator Agatha Valkyrie Ice, the project was the fourth of 10 in Ai’s curatorial concept following MTV Cribs.

The collaborative installation is loosely associated with Chapter 7: ANUS of their online project Body Holes, produced by digital exhibition platform New Scenario and launching on June 3 as part of the Berlin 9th Berlin Biennale. The project features Michele Gabriele, Jesse Darling, Mikkel Carl, and Sandra Vaka Olsen.

Moving through the different rooms of Ai house, beginning at the entrance, through the corridors and into further rooms, the 10 episodes host a [sci-fi IRL] story constructed over two years.

Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig, Episode 4: Bathroom (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy the artists + OSLO1O, Münchenstein.
Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig, Episode 4: Bathroom (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy the artists + OSLO1O, Münchenstein.

Four toilets are placed haphazardly around the space. Each titled ‘Toilet Piece’ (2015), the artists describe the medium as “Sanitary Ceramics” and each have been cleanly painted with pigment made to look like graffiti. Hanging above are the three ‘Garlic Piece’ series (2015), made of allium sativum (see: garlic) and bast fiber (also a part of the plant), hung on steel. In the adjacent room, ‘Wall piece’ (2015) takes up the majority of the space and is made using nitro-combination lacquer. The graffiti presents opposite the isolated and minimal ‘Soap/Sink Piece’ (2015).

Accompanying the sculptural assemblage is a written script that expands on the concept through words:

“Hanako-san, Ai realise the first organ to suffer privatization, removal from the social field, was the anus. Ai hole is a positive particle before Ai is the absence of a negatively charged electron, and the movement of electrons toward the positive terminal is also a flow of holes streaming back the other way. Immerse Aiself in a field of anuses, and a collection of small holes and tiny ulcerations: Ai heterogeneous elements compose the multiplicity of symbiosis and becoming. Holes are charged particles running in reverse. Holes are not the absence of particles but particles traveling faster than the speed of light. Ai realise that the anus is that center of production of pleasure. Ai is closely related to the mouth and hand, which are also organs strongly controlled by the sexopolitical campaign against masturbation and homosexuality in the nineteenth century. The anus has no gender.”**

Exhibition photos, top right.

Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig’s Episode 4: Bathroom was on at Münchenstein’s OSLO10, running November 24 to January 25, 2015-2016.

Header image: Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig, ‘Toilet Piece’ (2015). Detail. Courtesy the artists + OSLO1O.

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Looking back at Comedy Club

17 May 2016

Everything about about Comedy Club is kept low key. The location and the general information is minimal; it’s an exhibition in an attic room of a semi-disused warehouse in the Neukölln. It’s organised by Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner and Burkhard Beschow, features work by 13 artists including Sofia Restorp, Alex Rathbone, Tamina Amadyar, Robert Brambora, and Santiago Taccetti among others and runs in parallel to Berlin Gallery Weekend, April 29 to May 1.

At the top of a stairwell, beside the doorway, a toy butterfly skewered on a curved wire rod circles around the opening of a large crisp packet from a hidden motor inside. Crumbs beside the packet release oil into the concrete dust. It is a work by Paul Barsch. I am lightheaded and seeing stars because the exhibition is at the top of a long spiral staircase that scales the corner of the mostly abandoned building. The sculpture has a smoother mechanism but remains positively lo-fi in its technics, like a hand drawn animation superimposed over 35mm film. In its cyclical dance, a comic gesture, perfected in this automaton, indicates the threshold of the show; the bouncer.

Paul Barsch @ Comedy Club (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner + Burkhard Beschow.
Paul Barsch @ Comedy Club (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner + Burkhard Beschow.

Past the doorway, a skinny tubular structure, one of several of Erik Larsson’s ‘Beach Bums’ works emerges from a mound of sand. Jammed into each other with shims of banknotes; currencies I can’t make out amongst other domestic debris. These notes serve a function to wedge and physically support. Behind this work, a punk and his dog sits in a little scene with their backs against a large modernist object by Lin May Saeed. A haggard host welcoming us to the venue, its crude white plaster legs bleed rust from their internal armature. Alongside it are the words “WR 6603 ART BRUT” written in paint on the ground. The paint is older, inflicting my reading of the sculpture in such proximity; the punk in a moment of disdain contemplating ‘Art Brut’ in huge letters at its feet.

These words and numbers, along with other wall drawings and graffiti in the attic were made in the early 2000s. I piece together a narrative through my conversation with the organisers of an artist who went by the name of Dada Reiner. Two manifesto-like texts by Reiner were found in a stairwell dated from 2001, they included his views on the art-industrial-complex and his methods of practice. The texts have been brought into the space of the show and left on a beam to be read. It is confusing perhaps for the art viewer in search of an exhibition text, but this derailment and the possible co-option of Reiner’s politics is part of the routine at the club.

In the second room Tilman Hornig’s rear painted window frames feel nostalgic and inward in this scenario, their materiality put under scrutiny by that of the attic space. In the adjacent eaves the room is part sectioned-off by a wire mesh, a white rectangle of fabric creates a quick-fix wall divide, and inside this is a salon of small paintings by Real Positive. Unknown schematics, wires gridding the surface of a canvas. In another work I make out wind turbines, or stars collaged from pills and silver foil, a gritty future.

Comedy Club (2016). Exhibition view. Courtesy Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner + Burkhard Beschow.
Comedy Club (2016). Exhibition view. Courtesy Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner + Burkhard Beschow.

Against a landscape painting by exhibition organiser Fellner, two crude cars made from tin food cans travel in static motion alongside an improvised wall. They’re part children’s toys, part anachronistic prototype, forgotten and resigned to the loft. The metal, cut and torn into vehicles, feels like a dark critique of our modern aspirations and tragedies. A video with clips from Disney-Pixar’s computer-animated comedy adventure film Cars and a text describing the tin can’s journey make up parts of this installation by Fellner & Beschow. Like with Saeed’s art brut punk, there is a contemplation of the future through the tendencies of how we interpret and fetishize the past and its production values, at times with fairytale simplicity.

Comedy Club is short and sweet but its jokes are long-winded and bitter. It feels timeless, in that it occupies a crusty building and shows emerging art. Timed with Berlin Gallery Weekend, the character of many of the works and the precarious rooms they inhabit turn in on the official market-driven programme with a critical gaze. Sub-cultural systems of practice as affect, historical assimilation, spun out. As one of the organisers jokes, it’s an ‘underground’ show but it’s above us in an attic.**

The Comedy Club group exhibition was on during Berlin Gallery Weekend, running April 29 to May 1, 2016.

Header image: Lin May Saeed @ Comedy Club (2016). Exhibition view. Courtesy Jens Einhorn, Anne Fellner + Burkhard Beschow.

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New Scenario @ Temporary Gallery, Feb 22

22 February 2016

Berlin-based artists Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig will present a talk on their digital platform, New Scenario at Cologne’s Temporary Gallery on February 22.

The event text captures a snippet of an interview between New Scenario and Temporary Gallery and discussing dealing better with ways of presenting exhibitions online. They point out that many online spaces, or shows presented outside of the white cube often fail to address their specific conditions and formats: “They end up as (often poorly done) online documentations”.

According to the text, for the talk on the 22nd New Scenario will discuss the shift from documentation to image production and “how important it is to overcome one’s own taste”.

See Temporary Gallery’s webpage for more details**

 

Tilman Hornig @ C R A S H (2015). Install view. Photo by Stefan Haehnel. Courtesy New Scenario.
Tilman Hornig @ C R A S H (2015). Install view. Courtesy New Scenario.

 

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Tilman Hornig @ Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Jan 23 – Mar 24

22 January 2016

Galerie Gebr. Lehmann‘s Dresden space will host solo show by Tilman Hornig, Back to Painting from January 23 running March 24.

This summer the artist and founder of the New Scenario project made a photo series called Nevermind (summer 2015) which saw a t-shirt printed with the header “Nevermind” flying around a field with glowing hay bails in and sometimes resembling a horse’s head. Hornig has also recently shown at Two Queens, De Appel Art Centre and with swimminalpoolitics.eu.

See the FB Event page for (limited) details.**

Tilman Hornig, Nevermind, Summer 2015. Courtesy the artist.
Tilman Hornig, ‘Nevermind’, Summer 2015. Courtesy the artist.

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Swimminal Poolitics online, Nov 15

13 November 2015

A group project Swimminal Poolitics, organised by Grégoire Blunt and Emmy Skensved will take place online, swimminalpoolitics.eu on Nov 15.

Although the current project is shrouded in some mystery, with a website displaying the opening date, shimmering below a watery surface, the Berlin-based duo have previously collaborated in similar ways. With eStamina they presented a 60-minute ambient audio track accompanied by CGI in “a drugged fog”, as well as scripted contributions from 26 other artists, musicians, curators and neuroscientists.

The project will feature number of artists including Adam Cruces, Andreas Ervik, Daniel Keller, Felix Kalmenson, Kolaza + Sapija, Michelangelo Corsaro, Sandra Mujinga, Tilman Hornig, Valinia Svoronou.

See the Facebook event page for (limited) details or check the  swimminalpoolitics.eu website.**

Emmy Skensved and Grégoire Blunt, 2nd Skin (2015) Exhibition view. Courtesy 8-11, Toronto.
Emmy Skensved and Grégoire Blunt, 2nd Skin (2015) Exhibition view. Courtesy 8-11, Toronto.

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