Welcome re-installed at the Kestner Gesellschaft till July 2024
Currently on view as artist’s loan July 2023 – July 2024
The Welcome project re-imagines the 1923 Kestner Gesellschaft’s history, creating a new role for Sophie Kuppers, art historian, collector and future wife of El Lissitzky, by “appointing” her as its first female director. In her speech, performed live in German by Medea Stabbert at the opening of The New Man. The Announcer. The Constructor. El Lissitzky: Self-Portrait as the Kestner Gesellschaft, the artist confronts us with a narrative regarding the effects institutions and their governance has on propagating cultural values, while reflecting on omissions in acknowledging less well documented contributions by women. The artistic act of augmenting history can be seen as a form agency with the artist adopting the role of an intermediary or medium creating an elaborate disguise.
The installation of the project consisted of a purpose-built triangular free-standing room closed off on the longest side by a vertical blind with a gradient colour of the slats running from white to black interrupted by a red section, a homage to El Lissitzky and his work. Inside the original German version of the Welcome speech can be heard from a loudspeaker while a simultaneous English version runs as a projected scrolling text. The second projection on the adjacent wall is a 3 minute loop of archival footage shot in the Swiss Alps by the Beindorff family, the film is silent with added intermittent sound of a TB cough.
This is the evocation of two ghostly presences generated by the energy of the vocal cords. Sophie Kuppers becomes Sophie Lissitzky Kuppers by marrying El Lissitzky in 1927 in Moscow. Their lives have been inextricably linked, while their legacies unequally acknowledged. The project uses fiction to give justice to the emotional truth.
Performance and Installation
Commissioned by Adam Budak, Director Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover
Exhibition The New Man. The Announcer. The Constructor. El Lissitzky: Self-Portrait as the Kestner Gesellschaft
Curated by Adam Budak and Robert Knoke
07.07.2023 – 01.10.2023
Research assistance Ines Katenhusen
Script Marysia Lewandowska
Performance Medea Stabbert
Sound design Robert Jack
Animation Paul Bloomfield
Graphic design Stefan Andersson