Raphaela Vogel Takes Over De Pont

Saturday, May 6, 2023
Raphaela Vogel Takes Over De Pont

Raphaela Vogel will take over De Pont Museum in Tilburg with the exhibition KRAAAN. In recent years, Vogel (Nuremberg, 1988) has captured the attention of the international art world with her installations, in which sculpture, painting, experimental videos and music all flow together to yield a theatrical whole.

Vogel studied in Nuremberg and Frankfurt, as well as at De Ateliers in Amsterdam and has exhibited her work at a wide range of venues in Germany and beyond. KRAAAN is Vogel’s first survey in the Netherlands. The exhibition stretches along the entire length of the museum, from the large factory hall all the way to the new wing, and includes large-scale installations such as Rollo (2019), A Woman’s Sports Car (2018) and Können und Müssen (Ability and Necessity) (2022), an installation that was recently on display at the Venice Biennale.

Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, director of De Pont: ‘We are past due for a survey featuring this remarkable artist, who trained in the Netherlands for two years yet still remains largely unknown in this country. With her striking oeuvre, Vogel upends our prior knowledge and ideas. Her works elicit provocative questions which the artist often intertwines with one another in surprising and humorous ways. How, for instance, do cultural knowledge, education and technology work together? Are people and animals truly capable of understanding one another? And what is the nature of the connection between social status and design? Through references to the privilege enjoyed by artists and the position of women in a male-dominated world – and art world – she also turns a critical eye to her own role as an artist.

Rollo, 2019, Courtesy BQ, Berlin and the artist, © Raphaela Vogel, Kunsthaus Bregenz. Photo: Markus Tretter

The exhibition KRAAAN – written with three ‘A’s so as to encompass both the Dutch (kraan) and German (Kran) words for ‘crane’ – offers a dynamic overview of Vogel’s work, from early experiments with film to recent installations. It also devotes attention to a few sources of her inspiration, including a socially-engaged 1981 film by the German director Helke Sander. In the film, a woman with two children scales a crane in an act of pure desperation motivated by the crushing costs of rent and the housing shortage.

For Vogel, the slender construction of a crane – which seems to stretch toward the heavens – relates to her interest in the questions around the idea of hubris, a Greek word meaning pride or arrogance, as in the misplaced pride of mere mortals who dare compare themselves to the gods. This same concept serves as a common thread running through the


exhibition, which includes monumental works such as Rollo (2019), an installation that enables the visitor to stroll between astoundingly large iconic architectural models that once belonged to a now-defunct theme park, including the Statue of Liberty from New York, the Arc de Triomph of Paris and London’s Tower Bridge. They are somewhat weathered, having been partially destroyed and then restored, and as a result seem to question the current state of Western ideals. In the corresponding video clip, we see Vogel climbing up a gigantic crane while filming herself with a 360-degree camera that distorts the image in a surrealistic way. As a result, she leaves the viewer dizzied while singing her own rendition of Nina Simone’s cover of Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.


A Woman's Sports Car, 2018, Courtesy BQ, Berlin and the artist, Photo: Maximilian Geuter

When compared with large and provocative installations like these, such as Können und Müssen (Ability and Necessity) (2022) and A Woman’s Sports Car (2018), other works seem understated and inquisitive. In Würde / Motiv [Dignity, would / Motif, motivation], for instance, the artist uses a collection of medallions that hang on the wall like decorative jewellery to explore the meaning of the motif. And the animal hides painted with diagrams and ideas not only form a ritualistic-looking visual presentation, but are also an attempt to come to terms with the varied means by which knowledge is transferred. They are works in which Vogel strives for objectivity and clarity – in the full knowledge that such a thing is impossible.

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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