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Contemporary Ruins

Dorothee Albrecht, Morehshin Allahyari, Francis Alÿs, Katya Gardea Browne, Clemens Botho Goldbach, Arata Isozaki, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ryuji Miyamoto, Manit Sriwanichpoom

Duration: June 23 to October 1, 2017

Curated by Julia Höner and Ludwig Seyfarth

Our globalized era can be characterized as an age of ruins, because they surround us everywhere. The exhibition Contemporary Ruins examines the always-fascinating aesthetic potential of ruins, on the one hand, as well as their political and economic causes and implications, on the other. The process traces a historical development, moving from the traditional idealization of ruins as a source of contemplative meditation on a distant past to an interpretation of ruins more in step with present times, which questions their creation and current significance in detail.

That ruins today need to be “decoded” differently than they were through classic observation, has been exemplarily pointed out by the art and architecture historian Robert Harbison in his book, The Built, the Unbuilt and the Unbuildable (1993): “Very seldom do we know how a building fell into ruin, and assume it is a single, repeated process. One may be surprised to observe that the ragged edge left on a large apartment block by a gas explosion is picturesque, or to enjoy a visit to a village unpeopled by an earthquake. In these the emptiness came all at once, which usually accumulates over years.” The diversity of today’s ruins and their specific cultural resonance comprise the exhibition’s theme.

The exhibition will be on view at KINDL – Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin from October 22, 2017 to February 11, 2018.

A cooperation of KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf and KINDL – Center for Contemporary Art, Berlin




The exhibition at KAI 10 is supported by:


Exhibition views

Accompanying program

, 7 pm

Contemporary Ruins: Opening

Monika Schnetkamp, Chairwoman Arthena Foundation 

Dr. Barbara Könches, Kunststiftung NRW

About the exhibition
Julia Höner, Curator

, 7 pm

Ruins in Reverse - Round Table accompanying the exhibition

Eva Schmidt, director Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
Katya Gardea Browne, Clemens Botho Goldbach, artists of the exhibition
Julia Höner, Ludwig Seyfarth, curators

A discussion of the relationship between historic and modern-day ruins, based on Robert Smithson’s idea of Ruins in Reverse and his famous project, Hotel Palenque, located on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.

, 7 pm

The Ruins of the Future

Talk in English

Brian Dillon, Autor, writer, critic, curator
Royal College of Art, London

Since at least the eighteenth century, the ruin has been a decayed but eloquent presence in art and aesthetics. Ruins remind us of the past but are really oriented towards the future; this talk will describe some of the ways contemporary art looks to the future through ruins.

, 7 pm

Ruiniert das Bauen!

Talk in German

Thomas Burlon, architect, Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon, Berlin

About the Antivilla in Potsdam and other repurposed ruins. The architecture
office Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon often takes existing ruinous structures and transforms them with small interventions and key additions into new useful spaces.

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