press release

October 27, 2023–February 4, 2024

7 Tage, 7 Nächte

The Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden devotes a comprehensive solo exhibition to renowned conceptual artist Sarkis (born 1938 in Istanbul, lives and works in Paris), whose work profoundly links the social to the conceptual, calling for the merging of practices and cultures. For over 60 years, Sarkis has used a rich arsenal of photographs, collages, films, installations, and new media to consistently sought ways to explore, address, and transform forms of pain and suffering, while heightening our consciousness through art’s formal and aesthetic power.

7 Tage, 7 Nächte (7 Days, 7 Nights), the title of the exhibition, derives from the artist’s installation of the namesake, which Sarkis considers to be one of his most important works until today. Presented as a testament to his personal healing process since his installation Respiro in 2015, 7 Nuits is presented in an institutional context for the first time, defining an intimate space for self-reflection and meditation as much as it confronts contextual aspects of living as an artist with resilience and resistance.

As a participatory sculpture, L’atelier d’aquarelle dans l’eau (Aquarelle in Water), 2005–2006, welcomes the visitors, as it transforms the Kunsthalle’s main exhibition space into a communal ground for memories to be made. Imagining memory as an ongoing journey, Sarkis is keen on keeping the local context in mind along with water as the binding element to the city of Baden-Baden and its river Oos. Attention and patience are proposed as fundamental aspects of learning together here, with and through art in the service of collective and personal healing.

Watercolor rituals in the form of workshops will take place on Thursdays at 10:30am, Fridays at 12:30pm, and at 2:30pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm and 2pm. Register to participate here.

Sarkis’ reflections on the oppressive logic of Western art led him to develop the concept of “Kriegsschatz” (war treasure). In the vicinity of Baden-Baden, especially during his professorship at the art academy in Strasbourg and in close dialogue with artists like Joseph Beuys and Marcel Broothaers and art historians like Pontus Hultén, Sarkis systematized the search for non-Western objects in order to contextualize them as objets trouvés (found objects)—objects assembled and juxtaposed by the artist without losing their intrinsic meaning. Sarkis’ belief that objects have lives of their own—with unique stories of pain and suffering—ultimately brought him to the term “Leidschatz der Menschheit” (humanity’s treasure of suffering), coined by the German art historian Aby Warburg. As such, he interprets human history as a collective treasure and burden, intertwining it with his own memories and life.

The exhibition has been staged by Sarkis in close collaboration with the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden directors Çağla Ilk and Misal Adnan Yıldız together with curator Defne Ayas, and assisted by Sandeep Sodhi. In keeping with this modus operandi of artworks changing with the world, the Kunsthalle will hold incantations, meals and readings over seven days and seven nights during the exhibition period. Among the voices interpreting Sarkis’ shifting compositions are Lara Fresko, David Kazanjian, Senthuran Varatharajah, Silvina der Meguerditchian and Arsinée Khanjian. The finissage is conceived as a symposium, departing from the original title Sarkis gave to a piece from the exhibition: “Les Anonymes / The anonymous / Die Anonymen”.

Opening: October 27, 7pm Inaugural words by the artist, the directors, guest curator and honorary guests. Ceremony accompanied by a performative intervention of the Divanese Society.