Five Exhibitions to See in Munich during ‘Various Others’

From a Nicole Eisenman survey at Museum Brandhorst to new AI-generated paintings by WangShui at Haus der Kunst

BY Emily McDermott in Critic's Guides , Exhibition Reviews | 07 SEP 23

Nicole Eisenman

Museum Brandhorst

24 March – 10 September

Nicole Eisenman, Beer Garden with Ulrike and Celeste, 2009, oil on canvas. Courtesy: the artist

The first comprehensive survey of Nicole Eisenman’s three-decade career, ‘What Happened’ features an impressive array of approximately 100 sculptures, drawings and paintings from 1992 to date. Earlier works, especially salon-style installations featuring small-scale explicit, erotic and comedic paintings and drawings, reference the community the artist found within New York’s lesbian scene. Twister (1995), for instance, humorously imagines a sapphic game night, while the paintings produced leading up to and following the election of former US President Donald Trump invoke comedy as an access point to incisive political commentary (e.g. The Darkwood Trail, 2018). The exhibition is augmented by What Happened. The Movie (2023), a newly commissioned video created with friend and fellow artist, Ryan McNamara. In the animated short, humour and politics converge to reincarnate Eisenman’s temporary murals, created in cities around the world from LA to Vienna, only one of which remains – albeit hidden behind a wall at 945 Madison Avenue in New York (a.k.a. the Breuer Building, a.k.a. the former Whitney Museum for which the mural was created in 1995, a.k.a. Sotheby’s future global headquarters). As a whole, the show takes visitors on a stunning, darkly comedic and twisting journey through Eisenman’s evolving perspective on the world.

Lerato Shadi

Britta Rettberg with blank projects, Cape Town

9 September – 21 October

Lerato Shadi, Diphalane, 2023, pen on paper, 84 × 59 cm. Courtesy: the artist and blank projects, Cape Town

South African-born, Berlin-based artist Lerato Shadi is known for a practice – spanning video, painting, installation and performance – that challenges canonical Western histories. In this exhibition, titled ‘Tsela di matlapa’, which roughly translates as ‘It’s a hard road’, after a South African folk song often sung in the artist’s family, she debuts a new series of paintings, ‘River of Thoughts’ (all works 2023). Each canvas and piece of paper has been covered with red lines of text forming circles, loops and other curving patterns. But, like the title of the show for most viewers in Germany, the texts are far from comprehensible: after writing in one direction, Shadi reiterates the text backwards, overwriting the first inscription. In works such as Tsela and Kgato, illegible musings flow into, over and between one another, directing us toward new potential understandings of time and narrative – ones that stray from the traditional linear nature of both. Viewing writing as a performative act, the artist moves around each surface as she wields her pen, further drawing our attention to the question of perspective: from whose point of view was the story written – and for whom?


Haus der Kunst

8 September 2023 – 10 March 2024

WangShui, Certainty of the Flesh, 2023, live simulation still. Courtesy: the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City/New York

For their first institutional solo show in Europe, New York-based artist WangShui debuts a live video installation alongside a suite of new paintings. The video work, titled Certainty of the Flesh (2023), evolves in real time according to the output of an artificial intelligence model while riffing on the tropes of reality television shows – an ongoing fascination for the artist. ‘There are common threads throughout a lot of the subjects [I deal with], even though they aren’t always apparent at first,’ WangShui told me earlier this year. ‘I’ve come to understand reality television, for example, as [a] mediated loop with a pretty controlled dataset.’ At Haus der Kunst, this installation will be paired with paintings composed with the assistance of generative adversarial models, or GANs, a type of machine-learning model. WangShui inputs their previous paintings as the starting dataset and creates new pieces based on the GAN’s output. Though the artist frequently works with AI, it is not the subject of their practice; rather, they use it as a way to see beyond the limits of the human eye and open up new modes of perception.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian


21 May – 8 October

Natascha Sadr Haghighian with Zeynab Izadyar, Now that I can hear you my eyes hurt (Tumult), 2023, collage. Courtesy: the artists

A giant whistle decal plastered above the main entrance to Lenbachaus signals the central motif of Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s exhibition ‘Now that I can hear you my eyes hurt (Tumult)’. Both used by authorities and to warn against them, whistles demand attention yet don’t necessarily require action. In the hallway leading to the show’s main space hangs another red whistle, printed on a textile banner, while the sound of one blowing can be heard echoing from an eight-channel audio installation in the main hall (Tribute to Whistle, 2019). On the opposite side of the banner, after which the show is titled, is a photo of a man blowing the same whistle alongside fragments of text, including ‘by whistles / stop the foxes … the whistles / of self-organization’. The man is Hassan Numan, an activist from Sudan who died last year and was known for using whistles as a call for solidarity in the fight against deportation from Germany, where he lived. Throughout her practice, Sadr Haghighian – who was born in Iran and now lives in Germany – explores questions of collectivity and community. Here, the sound of the whistle, alongside a selection of other works addressing migration (as well as the surrounding contexts of race, climate change and neo-coloniality), continuously calls the audience to attention while visually signifying, as the exhibition text explains, a ‘tumultuous feat of collective action’.

Julia Scher & Sandra Slim

Jo Van De Loo with DREI, Cologne

8 September – 27 October

Julia Scher, Infoscreen at bus station somewhere near Planet Greyhound, 2022, film still. Courtesy: the artist and DREI, Cologne

The dog days of summer might be over but, in this exhibition, canine icons abound, linking the distinct practices of artists Sandra Slim and Julia Scher. Known for investigating systems of surveillance in both public and private spheres, Scher uses dogs – beings trained to benefit humans and fulfil our need for security – to symbolize domestication. Last year, she acquired a planet and named it ‘Greyhound’, and in a subsequent exhibition she created a quasi-bus station installation (a nod to the US’s largest long-distance bus line, Greyhound Lines) where sculptures of greyhound dogs awaited transportation to their planet. Here, the sculpted marble greyhound Greta (2022) sits and watches the greyhound-centric video work Infoscreen at a bus station somewhere near Planet Greyhound (2022). It’s an uncanny feeling to watch watchdogs watching themselves. Slim, meanwhile, conflates the human and animal worlds in her dreamscape paintings: dogs are seen driving neon-yellow sportscars and motorcycles (Stephie y la Changa, 2023) while humans are seen lounging on staircases (Essa moça tá diferente, 2023). At times, a dog’s head even appears on a human body (Forssa Saeeda means I’m glad to meet you, 2023). Despite their different approaches, both artists imagine worlds in which canines rule.

Main image: Nicole Eisenman, Morning Studio (detail), 2016, oil on canvas. Courtesy: the artist

Emily McDermott is a Berlin-based freelance writer and editor.