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Anniversary Project

Productive Image Interference: Sigmar Polke and Artistic Perspectives Today

Online festival with contributions by: Taslima Ahmed, Bice Curiger, Raphael Hefti, Camille Henrot, Alexander Kluge, Doreen Mende, Magnus Schäfer, students of the class of Marxt (formerly Odenbach) and others

Productive Image Interference: Sigmar Polke and Artistic Perspectives Today
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, November 13, 2021–March 6, 2022
with Kerstin Brätsch, Phoebe Collings-James, Raphael Hefti, Camille Henrot, Trevor Paglen, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Max Schulze, Avery Singer
Curated by Kathrin Barutzki and Nelly Gawellek (both Anna Polke Foundation) with Gregor Jansen (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf


An Anniversary Project by the Anna Polke Foundation to mark the 80th anniversary Sigmar Polke's birth, under the patronage of Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Fake news with manipulated images (even in high resolution), virtual reality, an infinite cosmos of increasingly widespread JPEG and GIF images: we have long lived with the awareness that we cannot trust our eyes and that pictures, whether produced manually or technically, do not so much depict reality as shape it – including transmission errors, degradation of quality, hacks, and other forms of interference. When Sigmar Polke was a student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the early 1960s, his interest quickly turned to images of his time that were widely disseminated in the mass media. The transmission, interference, the transformation, and recoding of these images, including their resulting or revealed errors, became a motif and early trademark in his raster dot paintings.

Based on current research, which regards Sigmar Polke as a universal contemporary and a postmodern artist’s artist who makes use of a wide variety of visual and temporal contexts, the exhibition focuses for the first time on a specific approach that characterizes Polke’s oeuvre. Polke’s technique, his handling of different media, contexts, and materials, relies on the potential of the supposedly flawed, blurred, and mutable. His works play with the pleasure of the illusion of images and in so doing question the effectiveness of (manipulated) images in different ways and various media. This productive interference of images is also a central strategy for a current generation of artists. The selected works by contemporary international artists show new techniques and methods that illustrate how forms of visual interference remain a productive starting point for creative work today in the negotiation of cultural and political issues.

On the occasion of the anniversary project two books were published:

Productive Image Interference: Sigmar Polke and Artistic Perspectives Today. Exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2021 (DISTANZ)

Reader: Productive Image Interference. Sigmar Polke und Current Perspectives. 2023 (DISTANZ)

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