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Thomas Zipp: Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle



Thomas Zipp's installation "Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle" in Palazzo Rossini is part of the official 55th Venice Biennale from June 1 to November 24, 2013 as part of the Eventi collaterali.

The complex title of Thomas Zipp’s proposal for his project in the Palazzo Rossini, touches upon two levels of meaning. On the one hand, he refers to the lyrics of ‘The Width of a Circle’ from 1970 by the English musician, David Bowie; on the other, to the phenomenon of research onto hysteria. Bowie, himself, referred in his lyrics to various parables and themes in Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’, whereby he was mainly interested in his sexual relationship with his ‘Devil’, drugs.

At the same time, Thomas Zipp’s project references the French term, ‘l’arc de cercle’, how it was coined in the second half of the 19th century in the famous hospital for the insane, ‘Salpêtrière’, in Paris, and where an encyclopaedic documentation of this ‘disease’ originated.

Particularly interesting for the artist is the invention of and research into the pronounced symptoms of hysteria as undertaken by doctors at ‘Salpêtrière’, especially Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893). For Zipp, the transformation of such an invention to a ‘quasi-artistic’ level is foregrounded, comparable to the irrefutable ‘sexual relationship’ to drugs, as exemplified in the case of David Bowie. In Thomas Zipp’s installation, a version of a research institute is to be shown that will not solely deal with hysteria but also with the duality in one person (schizophrenia) - in this case, the person of the artist, who will be doctor and patient simultaneously. – The ‘research institute’ developed by Zipp encompasses eight parts, which concurrently stand for the rooms of a fictional psychiatric clinic: reception, director’s office, library, treatment room, bedroom, auditorium, anger room and hallway, in which the artist wants to realise his idea of the virulent clinic.


The whole staging of ‘Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle’ by Thomas Zipp is financed by the non-profit KAI 10 I Arthena Foundationfounded by the collector and business woman, Monika Schnetkamp. The foundation opened its exhibition space, KAI 10, in Düsseldorf’s Media Harbour in autumn 2008 with its first exhibition, ‘No Illusions’. Conceived as a platform for contemporary art, the institution aims to be a type of intellectual workshop which supports and sponsors young artists in the realisation of their projects. The foundation thereby sets the support of artistic processes and the genesis of works at the core of its activities. Three or four group exhibitions are shown yearly at KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation, whose various thematic complexes and their artistic, social, and medial points of contact are presented for discussion. Although the focus is on the young, contemporary scene, well known positions are also incorporated. Since September 2008, over 80 artists, including such established internationals as Mike Kelley, Rachel Harrison and Heimo Zobernig, and especially the younger generation such as Anna Parkina, Goshka Macuga, Björn Dahlem, Markus Selg, or Natalie Czech, have been guests here in Düsseldorf’s Media Harbour.


The Berlin-based artist, Thomas Zipp, incorporates a range of different methods and media in his work. He is a painter and drawer, makes three-dimensional objects and sculptures, and works with photography and film. He also employs collage and assemblage techniques, although his main focus is on installation works. His exhibitions are based on spatially large presentations, in which single works such as paintings, drawings or photographs are incorporated. The artist usually gives his exhibitions a motto, which provides him with a theme-based focus for his ensembles.

Zipp, once described as the ‘psychonaut of art’, explores the unconscious in all its forms in his projects and installations. His ‘dark aesthetic’ includes the effects of drugs, the suggestion of heavy metal music, the boundaries of philosophy and religion as well as the hidden areas of psychiatry and psychotherapy and their connections to social reality.

The exhibition, ‘Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle’, in Palazzo Rossini seeks to convey the complex character of the works and presentations by Thomas Zipp, the range of which has almost encyclopaedic dimensions. Zipp’s research into the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis and natural sciences, as well as his interest in the pictorial exploration of people’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions, impart a universal approach to his work, which goes far beyond the limitations of the seemingly imaginary world of art.

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Exhibition views

Accompanying program

Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle

Palazzo Rossini

Campo Manin 30124 Venedig, Italien
(between Accademia and Rialto Bridge)

Open daily: 10 am – 6 pm
Tuesday closed

, 4 pm

THOMAS ZIPP The Chips Are Down, 2013

Special Event of Thomas Zipp in the exhibition Comparative Investigation about the Disposition of the Width of a Circle

THOMAS ZIPP The Chips Are Down, 2013

Filmscreening with live musik, 30 min.   
Performance and Treatment with "KOREN HELMETS”

The artist is present. Location: Palazzo Rossini, Campo Manin, Venice

Video about the exhibition

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