press release

Realism is not a style, nor a manner. To navigate between the reality of things and the capacity to imagine solutions that surpass the obstacles in a given system without fleeing into escapist endeavours is quite an ambiguous challenge. A challenge that might seem too costly to undertake.

In their film The Empty Plan, London-based artists Anja Kirchner and David Panos contrast scenes from three different productions of Bertolt Brecht's 1931 play Die Mutter, with scenes from his exile during the 1940s in Hollywood, the mecca of entertainment. Shifting between documentary, historical reconstruction and melodrama, the focus on the relationship between theory and practice in Brecht's theatre intermingles with conflicting personal, artistic and political ambitions, raising questions about the nature of art and the unrealised dream of its supersession through revolutionary practice.

In dialogue with the film, the sculptural painting installations of Swedish artist Jakob Simonson explore the border where the image comes into existence, or is lost – where the image is barely image. The front side, as well as the back, are both parts that are clearly presented to the viewer whose sight is set on a mode that oscillates between perception and illusion. Simonson's works operate both as physical experiences featuring the involvement of the body, and as images dubious to our reason. It's a back-and-forth movement between intellectual distance and emotional absorption that challenges every second of our attention.

Following Brecht's logic, one way to provoke rational self-reflection and discourage the audience from falling into an illusionary narrative world was to sit back, have a cigarette and reflect on what was being presented on stage in an emotionally distanced and critically engaged way. That is not a style – it is an attitude.

Events accompanying the exhibition Realismus ist kein Stil: Metod talk: Liz Magic Laser, New York-based performance and video artist Thursday, 4 October at 7pm

A conversation on contemporary theatre in relation to Brecht's theory and practice, in collaboration with Teatr Weimar Tuesday, 9 October at 7pm

Film screening: The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without images, Eric Baudelaire Tuesday, 23 October at 7pm

Film screening: Nebulosan (The Nebula), Eric M. Nilsson Tuesday, 30 October at 7pm

only in german

Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Jakob Simonson
Realismus ist kein Stil