Exhibition Programme 2021

Gropius Bau

Press release from 3 December 2020

We are pleased to announce the Gropius Bau’s exhibition programme for 2021. Key themes include probing, transgressing and dissolving boundaries, as well as rituals of healing and visions for new ways of living together. Going forward there is a special place where you can delve deeper into these programmatic threads – the newly published Gropius Bau Journal, which will regularly feature new contributions from artists, writers and thinkers. The exhibition programme in 2021 will also be accompanied by the film screening series Revolverkino at the Gropius Bau and a series of reading groups facilitated by Kathy-Ann Tan, entitled Connected within that Light.

In House: Artist in Residence 2021 – SERAFINE1369 / Jamila Johnson-Small

From January 2021

Following in the footsteps of Wu Tsang, Otobong Nkanga and Zheng Bo, SERAFINE1369 / Jamila Johnson-Small (previously known as Last Yearz Interesting Negro) will take up a studio in the Gropius Bau in 2021 as part of the In House: Artist in Residence programme. As an artist and dancer, SERAFINE1369 engages deeply with intimacy, movement and boundaries. Understanding dance as a radical, transformative practice allowing for different perspectives to emerge, they create awareness of the space shared by performers and audiences. At the Gropius Bau, SERAFINE1369 will investigate what they term „Oracular Practice“, the idea that movement and dance can act as a tool for divination, and that such messages can find form through choreography. Collaborating with other artists plays a vital role in the genesis of SERAFINE1369’s atmospheric landscapes, which are composed of video, sound, sculpture and movement. This collaborative approach will be reflected in the programme visions, a series of events created by SERAFINE1369 together with other artists for the Gropius Bau.

Wild Times, Planetary Motions
Berliner Festspiele 70
Live Art, Music, Installations and Archive

10 to 14 March 2021

Berliner Festspiele will turn 70 in 2021. In honour of this occasion, they will host a five-day programme that unites the various festival disciplines at the Gropius Bau and lets them resonate with each other. International visual artists, musicians and performers will present works situated between improvisation and score, creating a programme that can be experienced in a day version and a nocturnal one. It unites jazz and contemporary music, theatre works about plant intelligence, suites by J. S. Bach in the dark, humanoid robots in dialogue, a performative landscape scenography, historical films, conversations and archive material on the Festspiele’s history. These works deal with moments of metamorphosis, of intimacy and vulnerability. How can our dealings with an uncertain present be turned into an act of creativity? Wild Times, Planetary Motions wants to oppose our fissured status quo with a spark of ferocity and rebellion, creating a circuitry of renewal.

Featuring Monira Al Qadiri & Raed Yassin, Nikhil Chopra with Yuko Kaseki, Doris Dziersk, Alexander Hawkins & Siska, Manuela Infante, Augustin Maurs, Jimmy Robert, SERAFINE1369, The Monochrome Project, Olivia Wenzel and many others

Curated by Natasha Ginwala, Jeroen Versteele together with the Artistic Directors of Berliner Festspiele and Thilo Fischer (Archive)

Yayoi Kusama
A Retrospective

19 March to 1 August 2021

Originally scheduled for autumn 2020, the Gropius Bau will now open Germany’s first major retrospective of work by the artist Yayoi Kusama in March 2021. Presented across almost 3000 m², the exhibition will offer an overview of the key periods in Kusama’s oeuvre, which spans more than 70 years, and feature a number of new works by the artist as well as a newly realised Infinity Mirror Room. The retrospective will focus primarily on tracing the development of Kusama’s creative output from her early paintings and accumulative sculptures to her immersive environments, as well exploring her lesser-known artistic activity in Germany and Europe. The ground-breaking aspects of her historical exhibitions and her artistic motifs will be brought to life through exhibition reconstructions, enabling visitors to experience a selection of Kusama’s projects from the 1950s to the 1980s. A timeline of the artist’s life adds context alongside archival material, which includes photographs and film footage to offer visitors fresh insights into her work.

Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal (Director, Gropius Bau) and organised by the Gropius Bau in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Hella Jongerius: Woven Cosmos

29 April to 5 September 2021

At the heart of Hella Jongerius’s artistic practice is the connection between industry and craft as well as traditional knowledge and technology. In her work, weaving plays a significant role – one of the oldest cultural technologies, which is at the root of digital code. Woven Cosmos, the solo exhibition devoted to the artist and designer at the Gropius Bau, uses interactive elements to engage visitors in her open-ended, process-oriented techniques, encouraging a critical examination of issues around production and sustainability, present and future. Alongside Jongerius’s research into innovation and her progressive experimental practices, the exhibition highlights her ongoing enquiry into how we relate to objects – and how they can heal us. The show entwines with the history of the Gropius Bau, which was once a Museum and School of the Decorative Arts with its own workshops, a place where art and craft came together. In that tradition, Hella Jongerius will bring her Studio Jongeriuslab to the Gropius Bau to produce new works in the months leading up to the exhibition.

Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal (Director, Gropius Bau) with Clara Meister (Associate Curator, Gropius Bau)

Zanele Muholi

Summer / Autumn 2021

Zanele Muholi self-identifies as a visual activist and has been documenting the life of Black LGBTQIA+ communities since the early 2000s in intimate and powerful photographs across South Africa and beyond. In summer / autumn 2021, the Gropius Bau will host Muholi’s first retrospective in Germany. Alongside their earlier, lesser-known series, the show will feature recent works to display the full range of Muholi’s photographic practice, which addresses sexual politics, racial violence, communal resistance and self-assertion. Muholi’s photography is not only a gesture of empowerment, but consistently challenges the heteronormative gaze while building a network of affinity and new pictorial histories. Series such as Faces and Phases and Brave Beauties have contributed to a growing visual archive that celebrates Black queer and trans selfhood, acting as a testimony of those who risk their lives to live authentically in the face of repression and discrimination.

Curated by Natasha Ginwala (Associate Curator, Gropius Bau), Yasufumi Nakamori (Senior Curator International Art (Photography), Tate Modern) and Sarah Allen (Assistant Curator, Tate Modern)

Organised by Tate Modern, London in collaboration with the Gropius Bau, Berlin; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, and Bildmuseet at Umeå University

Zheng Bo: Wanwu Council 萬物社

21 June to 12 September 2021

As In House: Artist in Residence 2020, the artist and theoretician Zheng Bo embarked on the question of how plants practice politics. In summer 2021, his exhibition Wanwu Council 萬物社 will expand upon themes that Zheng Bo worked on during his one-year residency at the Gropius Bau. The Daoist term wanwu translates as “ten thousand things” or “myriad happenings” and embraces the infinite possibilities of life in all its forms. The exhibition premiers the first chapter of Zheng Bo’s film The Political Life of Plants 植物的政治生活 (2021), which has been filmed in Berlin and Brandenburg. It documents conversations with ecologists interspersed with experimental scenes. The series Drawing Life 寫生 (2020–21) brings together drawings of trees and weeds that Zheng Bo encountered over the 24 Solar Terms of one year. This daily drawing practice is a way of persistently staying close to these fellow beings. Wanwu Council 萬物社 takes this approach further: the exhibition will grow out of the Gropius Bau into the “Gropius Wood”, as Zheng Bo calls the community of plane trees that can be found to the west of the building.

Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal (Director, Gropius Bau) with Clare Molloy (Assistant Curator, Gropius Bau)

Thea Djordjadze

10 September 2021 to 16 January 2022

Thea Djordjadze’s artistic practice can be understood as a process of continually reusing, reconfiguring and rearranging objects. Influenced in equal measure by historical artefacts and concepts of modern art and architecture, Djordjadze’s sculptural works are characterised by formal ruptures and an idiosyncratic material aesthetic. By combining materials such as plaster, metal, rubber, textiles, wood or papier-mâché, the artist creates fragmentary spatial settings in which she reformulates the classic display – vitrine, plinth, framing and pedestal – as a recurrent theme in her work. Starting on 10 September 2021, the Gropius Bau will present an extensive exhibition of Djordjadze’s work in its spaces, among them the so-called Schliemann Saal, once home to Heinrich Schliemann’s excavated archaeological findings between 1881 and 1885. Existing and newly created works by the Berlin-based artist will engage in a dialogue with these historical spaces and past archaeological exhibitions at the Gropius Bau.

Curated by Julienne Lorz (Chief Curator, Gropius Bau)

The Cool and the Cold: Painting from the USA and the USSR 1960–1990
Ludwig Collection

17 September 2021 to 9 January 2022

30 years after the demise of the Soviet Union, the Gropius Bau presents The Cool and the Cold: Painting from the USA and the USSR 1960–1990, an extensive group show that brings together works held by the Ludwig Collection from six international museums. Peter and Irene Ludwig were among the first collectors to acquire art by American and Soviet artists simultaneously. The exhibition establishes a critical juxtaposition of works from both camps in the East-West conflict, examining how artists responded during the Cold War to the political and aesthetic questions of their time and negotiated ideas of individual and social freedom. The selection features approximately 120 works by Jo Baer, Erik Bulatov, Ivan Čujkov, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Ilja Kabakov, Lee Lozano, Natalja Nesterova, Viktor Pivovarov, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, among others.

Curated by Benjamin Dodenhoff and Brigitte Franzen in partnership with the Peter und Irene Ludwig Stiftung

Painting Space

15 October 2021 to 16 January 2022

Painting Space brings together a variety of contemporary artists who explore the materiality of painting and its relationship with space. Although abstract and performance art have challenged the Western tradition of painting and devised new forms, the concept is still often associated with paint on canvas. What happens when paint escapes the canvas and occupies entire spaces or objects? Many of the artists featured in the exhibition respond to this question by deconstructing painting into separate components, reducing it to minimal elements, turning it into a spatial experience, experimenting with surface and paint, and ultimately dissolving the boundaries between painting, installation and sculpture. Existing works sit alongside new commissions created especially for this show, which invites visitors to “step inside the picture” and experience painting both visually and physically as well as discover new perspectives on the Gropius Bau’s architecture.

Curated by Julienne Lorz (Chief Curator, Gropius Bau)

We hope the 2021 programme can run fully and as scheduled, but some changes may be necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Anne Wriedt
Gropius Bau

+49 30 254 86 125

Helena Zedig
Pickles PR

+44 (0)7803 596 587

Joseph Lamb
Pickles PR

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