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Der müde Tod

Andrew Gilbert, Bernhard Lehner, Markus Selg, Astrid Sourkova, Dominic Wood

January 24 to April 25, 2009

Curator: Zdenek Felix

Astrid Sourkova and Markus Selg are producing the exhibition Der müde Tod as a dramatic total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk). The two artists act as directors and set designers. Besides their own works, they present works by Andrew Gilbert, Bernhard Lehner, and Dominic Wood. Sculptures, paintings, drawings, projections, murals, and sound installations create a stage accessible to the audience, where the works of art are positioned like actors in the plot. Going beyond the structured space of the classic exhibition, the works are condensed into a montage, which in turn becomes a narrative, allegorical construct that raises questions about death and destiny on many different levels.

The two artists loosely base the narrative for their exhibition Der müde Tod on Fritz Lang’s and Thea von Harbou’s 1921 silent film of the same name. Subtitled A German Folksong in Six Verses, the film introduces a ballad about two young people in love. The romantic, tragic story tells of a young woman who, encountering death personified, attempts to reclaim her husband; we are shown the inevitability of death, but also its impotence, as it were. Shifted from country to country and time to time, the heroine tries to fulfill the task Death has given her, of saving people already condemned to death. She witnesses the complete panorama of human passions and desires that lead to the failure of her attempts. Still wishing to be reunited with her beloved, she ultimately dies for her love (Liebestod).

In this exhibition, the film’s narrative motifs are concentrated in a theatrical, expressive way in two three-dimensional images. In the first setting the world court of human conflicts opens up between the works of art. Over the ecstatic stairsone is led through a wall – also one of the film’s motifs – to the second image: a spiritual, metaphysical vision of the threshold of death and the view beyond – into eternity.

Exhibition views

Accompanying program

, 7 pm


Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich Reck, Philosoph, Kunstwissenschaftler, Publizist und Ausstellungsmacher, Professor für Kunstgeschichte im medialen Kontext, Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln

Arousal and Deliverance - Expressionistic Motifs about Death, Utopia, Demons and the Apocalypse

, 7 pm


Evelyn Echle, Filmwissenschaftlerin, Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Potsdam-Babelsberg und Universität Zürich

Fairy Tales, the Metaphysical, and a Weary Death: Fritz Lang’s Film 

followed by a film presentation

Infahrnis (Prolog) von Prager Anker (Bühler, Launhardt, Lengenfelder, Selg, Sourkova), 2006
Der müde Tod von Fritz Lang, 1921 
Que viva Mexico (Epilog) von Sergej Eisenstein, 1931/1979

, 7 pm

Artist talk

Astrid Sourkova, Markus Selg and Zdenek Felix followed by a lecture Dominic Wood Transcendental Field Theory in Der müde Tod

, 16:00 Uhr

Kuratorenführung mit Zdenek Felix

Video about the exhibition

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