Junge Sammlungen 05

What Paradise? - Collection Peters-Messer

23.09.2018 - 10.02.2019

I am not a piece of shit I am a piece of society – with letters powerfully painted on the canvas, artist Bjarne Melgaard puts it in a nutshell: art demands its place in society. Since the mid-1990s, Florian Peters-Messer, a real estate entrepreneur from Viersen, has collected more than 350 works of contemporary, international art, which are being presented in this form for the first time in a museum context. The exhibition presents a pointed and sharply contoured selection of highly political, sometimes explosive works that address the social upheavals of our time in a critical, often oppressive way. The title “What Paradise?”, borrowed from a work by Kon Trubkovich, not only asks about lost promises. It is also about the individual, about his or her hopes and possibilities in a world that seems increasingly complex and opaque, in which globalization and digitization seem to make everything available and yet is barely tangible. The exhibition deliberately focuses on the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, and thus on the social function of art as a whole.

What Paradise? brings together internationally renowned and widely discussed positions, including Kader Attia, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Santiago Sierra, but also artists of a younger generation who have yet to be discovered, such as Viktoria Binschtok or the Iranian Arash Hanaei, who is represented with his shocking text work Death of a Photographer. In addition to photographic works, some of which are large-format, sculptures and videos, a painting and several drawings, a space-consuming, kinetic installation by the US American Jon Kessler will also be on view.

The artist Peggy Buth is represented with a video work that makes failed utopias visible in an impressive way. Demolition Flats shows the demolition of apartment blocks in a Paris suburb where migrants from North Africa were supposed to find, if not paradise, then at least a new home in the 1960s. The discredited neighborhoods, along with the people who lived there, had to make way for other development plans.

In his disturbing photo series World of Warfare, Julian Röder shows how the arms fair in Abu Dhabi, with its military, death-dealing equipment, is staged for both effect and publicity. The portraits of the South African Pieter Hugo form a sharp but thought-provoking contrast to this. They are portraits of young men at the notorious Agbogbloshie Market in Ghana’s capital Accra – a terrifying field of debris where electronic industrial waste is processed under the worst health conditions.

The two-part video projection by the artist Yvon Chabrowski is viewed ambivalently. Countless people dressed in gray can be seen. Silent and crowded together, they move next to and over each other. A seemingly peaceful coexistence, which is, however, always disturbed, since it is necessary to assert one’s place. A long-lasting image, because indeed the question arises how and under what conditions a successful coexistence can be organized not only as an individual, but as a community.

With the generous support of the Museumsfreunde Weserburg


Kader Attia, Viktoria Binschtok, Peggy Buth, Yvon Chabrowski, Arash Hanaei, Jonathan Hernández, Thomas Hirschhorn, Pieter Hugo, Sven Johne, Jon Kessler, Douglas Kolk, Bjarne Melgaard, Thomas Rentmeister, Achim Riethmann, Julian Röder, Tom Sachs, Santiago Sierra, Kon Trubkovich, Susan Turcot

Press commentary

“The exhibition What Paradise? has a lasting effect and stimulates reflection. It gets close and leaves its mark […].” Alexandra Knief, WESER-KURIER
“Thematically, the unwieldy predominates, art that polarizes, that takes up taboos and crosses the boundaries of ‘good taste’.” Jörg Restorff, KUNSTZEITUNG
“The walk through What Paradise? is a path to the focal points of our time, with art that does not linger in self-referentiality and yet knows how to convince formally-medially.” Rainer Beßling, artline>kunstmagazin
“Works […] dedicated to social realities that many would like to close their eyes to.” Frank Schümann – Bremer museumszeit

Young Collections Exhibition Series

With the exhibition series Young Collections, the Weserburg positions itself as an innovative and lively venue for contemporary art in the nationwide museum landscape. On display are young private collections that have not yet been presented to the public in this form. The exhibition format was initiated in 2014 and can now look back on a successful development. For the Weserburg, these nascent collections guarantee an exciting insight into what moves a younger generation. At the same time, as a “collector’s museum,” it is giving itself a new profile for the future.

The Hamburg collection Dominic and Cordula Sohst-Brennenstuhl kicked things off with the exhibition Junge Sammlungen 01. Nullpunkt aller Orte, followed by the von Kelterborn collection from Frankfurt am Main with Junge Sammlungen 02. Komm und Sieh, the Berlin collector Ivo Wessel with Junge Sammlungen 03. Der Raum zwischen den Personen kann die Decke tragen, and last but not least Christian Kaspar Schwarm with Junge Sammlungen 04. The Vague Space.