Alex Wissel, Jan Bonny Rheingold – Tun, was zu tun ist

Helge is properly distraught. A large ‘Café Deutschland’ painting in the background. He wants to finally get his seat at the table, not just serve others. Schröder will soon be chancellor, the beginning of the Berliner Republic, New Labor, Achenbach is collaborating on Agenda 2010, Joseph Beuys’ spirit regularly appears—everyone is inspired and ecstatic and animated. Helge becomes a collage artist. He succumbs to temptation: the seducer becomes a deceiver.

The Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof is pleased to present the exhibition “Rheingold. Tun, was zu tun ist,” a collaborative project by artist Alex Wissel (b. 1983, Aschafenburg) and filmmaker Jan Bonny (b.1979, Düsseldorf), which includes 10 episodes of the series “Rheingold” produced this year at the Volksbühne,Berlin.Installedintheexhibitionspaceoftheformer1st classwaitingroomaswellasthe surrounding train station Hamburg-Harburg, the original props used in the videos, watercolor paintings, and colored pencil drawings create a stage-like setting. The screens that present the different episodes of the series as well as filmic sketches from the same project are mounted onto the props, repurposing them as displays in the exhibition.
Since 2016, Alex Wissel has been working together with Jan Bonny on various filmic sketches for “Rheingold,” a fictional series about the mingling of male dominated power structures in politics and art in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during the rise of New Economy in Germany. It is based on the downfall of art dealer Helge Achenbach, a public figure in the German and international art market who, upon being accused of fraud, famously declared his falsified invoices as “collages.” A radical interpretation of Beuys’ dictum that everyone’s an artist? The exhibition seizes on collage’s moment of appropriation on all levels of production: The script for the series is a collection of quotes, the stage design draws on existing artworks, political campaigns, and various corporate identities, and the respective drawings further develop these alternative narratives to tell of social sculpture, power, deceptions, and great misunderstandings. The protagonists of Wissel and Bonny’s “Rheingold” are positioned in Beuys’ tradition of art as the motor of social and individual progress: art as the path to success. In this series it is also a path that leads away from noble principles and ideologies, heading toward millions of euros of fraud and the abuse of power, but also to Germany’s 2014 World Cup victory in Brazil.

The exhibition is kindly supported by Kunststiftung NRW, CORA-Kunststiftung/Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, and Behörde für Kultur und Medien der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg

Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof