The current crisis into which our society has been plunged globally makes it clearer than ever how quickly radical upheavals, breaks with familiar values and norms, can shake us. In this respect, the exhibition UPHEAVAL has been given a whole new relevance by the Corona crisis. UPHEAVAL is the first exhibition curated by the Kunsthalle Mannheim’s new director, Johan Holten, at his new venue. With the show, Holten would like to redirect the gaze of the public from the new architecture to his vision of a thematic restructuring. Not only the concept is extraordinary, but also the new exhibition architecture: a scaffolding traversing all three sections of the show.

Around 100 years after the legendary exhibition “New Objectivity” in Mannheim, the first section of the show features three female positions of this style. Self-portraits by the Heidelberg artist Hanna Nagel (1907–1975) are presented along with numerous graphic works that have been rarely shown. They are complemented by works of the Berlin artist Jeanne Mammen (1890–1976), who portrayed nonconformist outsiders of the 1920s, and pictures by the Hamburg artist Anita Rée (1885–1933), whose powerful portraits make her one of the most significant artistic positions of the first half of the 20th century.

The second section of the exhibition focuses on social conventions, showing, a film by the French artist Clément Cogitore: Accompanied by sounds from the Baroque opera “Les Indes Galantes,” street dancers of different social and ethnic backgrounds dance on the stage of the Paris Opera. In “The Republic of T.M.,” the Danish-Iraqi filmmaker Masar Sohail deals with his own biography shaped by migration. Alexandra Pirici also addresses the theme of upheavals in our present time, which she visualizes with ten dancers, in her work “Re-Collection.” The performers wear mouth-and-nose masks, so Pirici's work illustrates how the corona pandemic is penetrating art.

In a third exhibition chapter, Johan Holten brings together three younger sculptural positions whose works created especially for the Kunsthalle Mannheim, should be purchased for the museum's famous sculpture collection: The German-Turkish artist Nevin Aladağ created an instrument that cannot only be viewed but also heard – in the frame of three accompanying concerts. A further sculptural installation is by Kaari Upson, who makes her life in a suburb of Los Angeles the starting point of her piece. The artist Hu Xiaoyuan, who lives and works in Beijing, complements these two positions with her multi-part sculptures.

Curator: Johan Holten

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