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Anniversary Project

Productive Image Interference: Sigmar Polke and Artistic Perspectives Today
Anniversary exhibition of the Anna Polke Foundation and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf 
13 November 2021–6 February 2022

Fake news with manipulated images (even in high resolution), virtual reality, an infinite cosmos of increasingly widespread JPEG and GIFimages: 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.

To mark the 80th anniversary of Sigmar Polke’s birth, the Anna Polke Foundation and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf are realizing an EXHIBITION PROJECT that juxtaposes works by Sigmar Polke with current artistic positions under the title Productive Image Interference.

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.

Participating artists: Kerstin Brätsch, Phoebe Collings-James, Raphael Hefti, Camille Henrot, Trevor Paglen, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Max Schulze, Avery Singer

The exhibition is curated by Kathrin Barutzki and Nelly Gawellek (both from the Anna Polke Foundation) along with Gregor Jansen (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf).
An exhibition catalog will be published in German and English with artistic and art-historical texts.

In the context of the exhibition Productive Image Interference at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, the Anna Polke Foundation initiates and organizes an international FESTIVAL, which will take place at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 25 November–27 November 2021. Participants from different disciplines will address the themes of the exhibition and will discuss the origins, perception, and manifestations of the phenomenon as well as the productive potential of visual interference – then and now – in theoretical and artistic contributions.

Submit your proposal for the festival Productive Image Interference now! Deadline for submissions is 14 June 2021. Click here for the Call for Papers.

This anniversary project is under the patronage of Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Supported by:

Polke Salon

As a place of exchange, POLKE SALON is modelled on Sigmar Polke's work and thinking as an artist, on his curiosity to discover and bring things together and his use of free association in his work. We cordially invite you to regular meetings in the rooms of our foundation, where on the following dates selected participants will enter into dialogue about and with Polke's work. Meet scientists, gallerists, contemporary witnesses, and free spirits. Look forward to personal encounters, new insights, and joint discussions over wine and snacks.

Here you can find the flyer with the annual programme 2021.
Please note that the dates listed therein are no longer valid. All SALON talks in 2021 will take place without an audience due to the Corona pandemic. They will be recorded and can be accessed here afterwards.

"Everyone can do easy". Mike Karstens (graphic artist and gallery owner) and Anna Polke (founder and actress) in conversation with Christian Spies (University of Cologne) about Sigmar Polke's creation of graphic art and painting.
> Recording from February 2021:

"Cher Maître". Bice Curiger (art historian and artistic director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles) talks to Julie Sissia (scholarship holder of the Anna Polke Foundation 2019) about Sigmar Polke and France.
> Recording from June 2021 (sorry, coming soon with English subtitles):


"Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo". Petra Lange-Berndt (art historian, Hamburg) talks with Alex Sainsbury (founder and director Raven Row, London) about Sigmar Polke, Psychedelia and Great Britain.
(Recording in September 2021)

"Loose connections". Michael Oppitz (ethnologist) in conversation with Dietmar Rübel (art historian) about art and ethnology with, by, and around Sigmar Polke.
(Recording in September 2021)

This event format is developed by the Anna Polke Foundation together with Prof. Christian Spies from the Department of Art History at the University of Cologne. 

Funded by: