This spring the kestnergesellschaft will present an exhibition by the artist group FORT. The collective FORT moves like a seismograph through our everyday world and traces social, political, and economic events and developments. For this exhibition, FORT developed two entirely new works, which will be shown alongside the large-scale installation Leck (2012) and the video work The Calling (2014) for the first time in a museum setting.
The appropriation, transformation, and staging of places that they find or create themselves are central to their artistic practice. Their detailed spatial arrangements are like experiments with which the artists reveal and reinterpret the mechanisms of our consumer society and the art market. In their interventions, performances, and installations, the artists react to existing structures and relationships, while at the same adding peculiar elements to found situations and playing with our perception of the supposedly familiar.
The four independently conceived works in this exhibition share an atmosphere of emptiness, transience, stagnancy and loneliness. In Leck(2012), the artists have transferred the entire interior of a former Schlecker drugstore into an exhibition space at the kestnergesellschaft. This transplantation to a new location provokes an unfamiliar view of the aesthetics of the typical drugstore. By focusing on the grotesque aspect of the empty shelves and aisles, they also address the historic downfall of Schlecker—one of the largest bankruptcies in post-war Germany.
With their video work The Calling (2014), the artists continue their engagement with the demands and contradictions of today's information society, in which performance is paramount. The video takes place at a call center, a workplace whose atmosphere is dominated by hectic activity, sensory overload, and continuous pressure to perform. However, FORT show employees who have fallen into a deep sleep at their desks. The motif of sleep becomes a subversive element of temporary withdrawal and resistance.
In the new installation Lonesome Raider (2015), an ordinary snack vending machine places the visitors themselves in a contradictory situation. A single remaining "Raider" candy bar sits on a shelf in the functioning vending machine. The candy bar was renamed "Twix" in 1991 as part of an elaborate advertising campaign. At the time, the aim was to simplify production and marketing with a single brand name around the world. This new, more casual name was to help increase the product's popularity and thus also sales. Not least among the company's concerns was the possibility that the meaning of the word "raider" could lead to misunderstandings. FORT poetically and humorously take up these two motifs. The rare sweet could disappear at any time for a few coins.
The neighboring installation Somebodies (2015) consists of two jackets hanging on a coat rack. Swinging gently back and forth, they seem to have just been hung up by their owners. Thus, the jackets point to the recent absence of two "somebodies." However, the constant, monotonous movement of the jackets permanently freezes the fleeting moment of disappearance. The title of the work is an ambiguous coinage, since there is no plural of the word "somebody." The artists play with the aspect of the imaginative: the cloak room as an intermediate space where one hangs one's jacket before entering another room suggests not only the image of an absent person, but also the idea of another place.
FORT consists of Alberta Niemann (*1982 in Bremen) and Jenny Kropp (*1978 in Frankfurt am Main). Since 2008, they have created installations, performances, and video installations (until 2013 with Anna Jandt, *1980 in Bremen). Their works have been shown at the Kunsthaus Dresden (2013), the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen (2009), and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2008). They have participated in group exhibitions at the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (Andere Räume, 2012) and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (One on One, 2012).
The exhibition is curated by Lotte Dinse.