until 02.06. | #3915ARTatBerlin | DIEHL presents from 27. August 2023 the exhibition ANIMA ANIMALIS of the artist Oleg Kulik.
An exhibition by the artist, who was born in Ukraine and currently lives under house arrest in Russia.
Hardly any other artist has challenged the viewer as provocatively as Oleg Kulik with his performances in the 90s and 2000s.
No easy task, then. But Carsten, as has always been his way, very quickly and through his open curiosity and enthusiasm got to grips with Kulik’s world. A complex challenge in times of war.
Working with Carsten was a great pleasure and an eye-opener for the artist and for me, as in all other joint projects in the past.
Some exhibitions that will remain unforgettable for me.
The titles speak for themselves. Dieter Hacker “Der Künstler als Amokläufer”, Christiane Möbus “Rette sich wer kann”, Hommage to Christos Joachimides “Kunst im politischen Kampf”, Sergey Bratkov “Heartbreak” and now Oleg Kulik “Anima Animalis”.
Here the titles were programme. Art and provocative political attitudes were not a contradiction for Carsten, but a challenge. There he was in his element.
Carsten Ahrens was a companion and a friend. But I especially admired his uncompromising approach when it came to artists and their work. We often sat together for hours and I took great pains to explain why I was particularly interested in the works of a particular artist. When I later read his or her text, I often only understood what I had really meant. This was not without a certain humour. He was also a master of the art of subtle humour.
To use Zille’s words, a fine person, a reliable friend who enriched me with many motivating words and ideas, for which I am deeply grateful. After a long illness, Carsten now succumbed to his suffering far too early.
Let our joint exhibition be dedicated to the special memory of Carsten Ahrens.
Oleg Kulik, born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1961, is undoubtedly one of the most radical artists of our time. After graduating from the Kyiv School of Art in 1979 and subsequently studying geology in 1982, which took him on numerous expeditions, his career in the visual arts began as curator of the Regina Gallery, one of the most influential underground galleries in Moscow, where he realised a number of spectacular exhibitions
Kulik began his artistic career as a sculptor with objects made of Plexiglas, which already focused on people’s perception of their immediate reality. However, he only attracted international attention when he made performance the central medium of his art and thus became one of the outstanding founders of Actionism in post-Soviet Russia, whose works are part of the collections of renowned European museums such as the Tate Modern in London or the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
In his early performances, Kulik slips into the role of a dog, abandons the animal corporeality of man tamed by reason and becomes entirely an instinct-driven animal being. Naked, wearing a dog collar alone and sometimes led by a handler on a leash, Kulik encounters the audience of his actions, defends his territory by barking and biting, breaks through all the conditions of human behaviour and breaks through to the deeper animal instincts.
In numerous action series under titles such as The Mad Dog or Last Taboo Guarded by Alone Cerberus, Moscow 1991, or I Bite America and America Bites Me, Deitch Projects, New York 1997, an allusion to Joseph Beuys’ famous performance I Like America and America Likes Me with a coyote at the René Block Gallery in New York, Oleg Kulik has provoked and often shocked art audiences in important art institutions such as the Kunsthaus Zurich, the Stedelijk Museum in Ghent, the Vienna Secession and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In 1996, during the Interpol exhibition in Stockholm, a scandal finally broke out when an art collector did not heed Kulik’s warning not to come too close to the artist during his performance and was consequently bitten by the dog impersonated by Oleg Kulik. Kulik was subsequently placed under arrest by the Swedish police. This incident became the model for the famous final sequence in the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning film The Square by Ruben Östlund, one of the most profound examinations of the decline of values in the tides of the contemporary art system. There, an action artist slips into the role of a monkey who ignores all the aloofness of an artistic performance and, on the occasion of a Friends of the Museum dinner, gives free rein to his aggression towards this audience.
In many other actions, such as Deep into Russia, 1993, Kulik Is a Bird in Fact, St. Petersburg 1995, or Horses of Bretagne, 1998, Oleg Kulik has slipped into the roles of other animals or has thematised the coexistence of humans with animals in not infrequently scandalous constellations. Loosely based on Francis of Assisi, who said: “All creatures of the earth love, suffer and die like us, so they are equal works of the almighty Creator – our brothers,” Kulik is thus on the trail of an idea that Joseph Beuys first formulated in 1969 with his proclamation of a party for animals.
In addition to his actions, which Kulik definitely also understands as sculptural manifestations, he has also been working in the field of sculpture again for years. The exhibition at Galerie Volker Diehl shows selected actions by the artist with photographic series and excerpts from videos as well as significant examples of his sculptural work.
Carsten Ahrens (1961-2023)
Opening: Thursday, 27. April 2023, 6pm – 9pm
Exhibition Dates: Thursday, 27. April until Friday, 2. June 2023To the Gallery
Image caption: Oleg Kulik, I Bite America, America Bites me, 1997
Exhibition Oleg Kulik – DIEHL | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Ausstellungen Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin