What to See in Munich at ‘Various Others’

Ahead of the opening weekend of Munich’s gallery-share initiative, Isabelle Sully shares her must-see shows

BY Isabelle Sully in Critic's Guides , EU Reviews | 08 SEP 21

Rainer Schwinge, photograph of the late poet and performer Rabe Perplexum, date unknown. Courtesy: the Monacensia in the Hildebrandhaus

‘Pop Punk Politics: The 1980s in Munich’

Monacensia in the Hildebrandhaus

30 April 2021 – 31 January 2022

In a city bursting with well-funded museums – many of which were built to promote a particular vision of the country’s creative glory during the National Socialist regime – Munich also has its fair share of smaller, less well-known spaces dedicated to printed matter and its sibling, the book. One of these is Archive Artist Publications, an expansive collection preserved by the artist, curator and publisher Hubert Kretschmer; another is Monacensia, the city’s literary archive. Loosely translated as ‘pieces of Munich’, Monacensia organizes one exhibition annually, with this year’s show dedicated to the city’s 1980s countercultural punk scene. The exhibition arose from a desire to address perceived gaps in the archive’s contents, and was developed in conversation with many local artists, photographers and cultural workers. The result is a presentation that melds informal histories and the DIY aesthetic of punk paraphernalia – from zines and manifestos to radio scripts and button badges – with the grand setting of the Hildebrandhaus, the villa that houses Monacensia and its many cherished possessions.

PlusX, Ruine München, Gülbin Ünlü, digital collage, 2021. Courtesy: the artist, PlusX and Ruine München


Ruine München at Der Fahrende Raum

10–12 September 2021

Wouldn’t it be nice to receive an invitation with an endless allocation of guests, rather than the usual meagre plus one? Berlin-based PlusX – a space dedicated to sound, text and performance aimed at exploring forms of communal listening – agrees, which led them to extend an open invitation of sorts: participating artists are encouraged to invite others, crediting the limitless network of people that come together to make any project happen. For ‘Various Others’, they have been invited by Ruine München – who are in turn hosted by Der Fanrende Raum – to organize a three-day programme that will include material from PlusX’s impressive sound archive, and a newly produced radio piece interspersed with live readings throughout.

Alexandra Bircken, RSV 4, 2020, motorcycle, steel, variable dimensions. Courtesy: the artist, BQ, Berlin und Herald St, London; Photo: Roman März

Alexandra Bircken

Museum Brandhorst

28 August 2021 – 16 January 2022

For those familiar with Alexandra Bircken’s work, her current retrospective at Museum Brandhurst might not pack many punches. But, while her more notorious pieces – such as RSV 4 (2020), a bisected motorcycle glimmering in the centre of the main gallery space – offer a wry parody of the masculine tendency towards spectacle and commodity fetishism, for an artist focussed on deconstruction – in terms of process, materials and gender norms – the retrospective format, by providing an expansive tour through her practice, serves to humble the more sensationalist work she has come to be known for. Alongside an array of deconstructed found objects (Snoopy, 2014) and strewn mannequins (Storm, 2013) are textile works (Knochen, 2011) that carry within them intimate traces of bodily touch.

Stefan Tcherepnin, Master of Ceremonies, 2019, hand sewn faux fur, embroidered fabric eyes, wood, metal, 150 x 100 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich, and Jahn und Jahn, Munich

‘Odd Vows’

Jahn und Jahn

11 September – 9 October

For ‘Various Others’, Jahn und Jahn hosts Zürich’s Galerie Francesca Pia and, together, the two spaces present ‘Odd Vows’, a group exhibition featuring works by Isa Genzken, Ana Pellicer, Josef Strau, Al Taylor and Stefan Tcherepnin. Drawing on each of the artists’ humorous approaches to the seriousness with which aesthetic practice frequently takes itself, the show gathers together a collection of works that laugh in the face of conventional notions of autonomy. Unfinished, open-ended, disciplinarily interdependent, haphazardly gaffer-taped together: the selection of works in this exhibition makes an eclectic promise to disrupt the status quo.

Dala Nasser, The Dead Shall Be Raised, 2021, video still. Courtesy: the artist and Deborah Schamoni

Dala Nasser

Deborah Schamoni

11 September – 16 October

The financial debt inferred by the saying ‘in the red’ comes from the practice of using red ink to emphasize loss on budget balance sheets. In her first European solo exhibition, Lebanese artist Dala Nasser grapples with the environmental debt accrued through practices of extraction by taking Tyrian purple – a highly sought-after ink produced as an excretion by certain types of predatory sea snails – as an allegorical material through which to explore the history and mythology of south Lebanon. The dye secured its value through the exhaustive process undertaken to source it, whereby hundreds of thousands of snails and an excess of human labour produces a mere 30g. For ‘In the Purple’, Nasser will present a new video work made in collaboration with a filmmaker, an architect and a deep-sea diver as well as a selection of new canvases made using rubbings from historical sites found in the area. Deborah Schamoni will also open a concurrent solo exhibition by sculptor Julian Göthe in collaboration with Galerie Charim.

Lee Mingwei, ‘禮Li, Gifts and Rituals’, 2021, installation view, Villa Stuck, Munich. Courtesy: the artist and Villa Stuck, Munich; Photo: Barbara Donaubauer

Lee Mingwei

Villa Stuck

27 May – 12 September

Drawing on the Confucian principle of li, Lee Mingwei’s exhibition ‘Li, Gifts and Rituals’ now in its final days – unfolds throughout the sprawling rooms of Villa Stuck to present work spanning the last 25 years. In line with an interpretation of li as a kind of civil conduct premised in propriety that transcends politeness, the exhibition works with the notion of giving and receiving to overcome the usual border between audience and artworks. While it could be argued that an artwork in and of itself is a gift, Mingwei takes this proposition to its end point, creating an exhibition that is participatory in nature – a viewer might be approached by an opera singer wanting to give them ‘the gift of song’ or find a mender waiting patiently to fix their torn clothing – yet which, in a rare an act of recognition, awaits the viewer’s consent.

Hed image: Dala Nasser, The Dead Shall Be Raised, 2021, video still. Courtesy: the artist and Deborah Schamoni

Isabelle Sully is a writer, artist and curator. She is based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and is assistant curator at Kunstverein, Amsterdam.