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"Franz Ackermann: Solo Exhibition"
2005-07-20 until 2005-10-23
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Dublin, , IE

The first solo exhibition in Ireland of the internationally acclaimed German artist Franz Ackermann opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 20 July 2005. Franz Ackermann comprises a series of large brightly coloured paintings and installations which reflect the changing nature of today’s increasingly globalised society. Two of the works have been designed especially for the spaces at IMMA. The exhibition also includes smaller works on paper in which the artist has been creating since 1991, reproducing the cities and landscapes he visits in the form of a topographic memory.

Ackermann’s work derives from his wide-ranging travels from Tokyo, Manila, Hanoi and Bangkok to Rome and São Paolo. His experiences within this world are that of a tourist, rather than a traveller, and his work reflects this dizzying sensory overload. Ackermann’s large installation paintings depict urban dynamics in the form of organic energy centres via documentation, postcards and newspapers. His works read as a geographical metaphor for the ways in which travel and digital communication can be substituted for each other in a world which is becoming faster and easier to navigate every day. For this exhibition Ackermann explores the conflict between fears and freedoms inherent in 21st-century travel and tourism and what precisely it means to participate in the global tourist economy.

Faceland III was first shown as part of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. Ritualistically, as with all his works, Ackermann spent time in the weeks leading up to the exhibition walking the well-trodden tourist paths of Venice, actively scanning the environment and morphing into the identity of the tourist.  Faceland III is characterized by interconnecting works, which look like a hallucinatory urban planning system, there is a distinct centre around which are built interconnected satellite systems that suggest a fragmented sense of detail and other scenes from the landscape which contain obvious sites of tourist interest in Venice. As part of the installation one area is illuminated by a sphere of light bulbs, that look like a builders demolition ball, ready to demolish the environment. It also could be seen as an advertising sign for Ackermann, as we see a graphic black and white outline of his face, with the obligatory tourist’s RayBans.

In Travelantitravel, 2004, Ackermann explores the dialogue between tourism-terrorism and the emotions associated with theses issues. Berlin is the subject of this work, where Ackermann is resident and returns to from his travels. There is a violent beauty to this work as we see the imposing prominent steel cages which house most of the paintings. A steel and glass structure reminiscent of an interrogation area adds a sense of surveillance to the installation, which could allude to Berlin’s past and present histories. Guns, a sleeping bag and structural carnage are also included in the installation and are hung in a way that forces us to confront the relationship between violence, mobility and tourism. A prominent theme in Ackermann’s work is how easily travel can be disrupted, in the work we see a network of passages blocked by iron railings. These architectural forms suggest the numerous physical, social, political, economic and ethnic upheavals that have characterized urban centres over the past decade.

The Landing Room and The Staying Room, both 2005, are based on Ackermann’s relationship to Dublin from the invitation to show his work at IMMA and an unplanned visit to Dublin during an emergency airplane landing due to a bomb warning. As he took to the role of tourist in Dublin, from viewing the Spire to walking down Grafton Street and visiting Temple Bar, Ackermann considered the socio-economical and political effect of the Celtic Tiger. The dynamics of contemporary tourism where affected by the Celtic Tiger and many believe the culture of Ireland has been eroded by growing consumerism and the acceptance of American capitalist ideals. Cities like Dublin are organic breathing entities to Ackermann and as they expand he captures the changing urbanization and profound social values reflecting the shifting nature of attitudes to cities in an ever more globalised society.

Franz Ackermann has exhibited internationally including Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; the Castello di Rivoli, Turin; White Cube, London; Portikus, Frankfurt and the Galerie neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Recent group shows have included the São Paulo Biennial, 2002, Casino at SMAK, Gent, 2002, and Painting at the Edge of the World, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2001.

The exhibition is curated by Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.

The exhibition is supported by the Goethe Institute, Dublin. A publication with essays by Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, curator and art critic, Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Portikus, Frankfurt, and Rachael Thomas accompanies the exhibition. (Price €25.00).

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