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The idea – Bernd Zimmer


Bernd Zimmer

In the 19th century the time of the world expositions began. First in London, later in Paris, New York and St. Petersburg, museums were founded to show the art of the world. On the one hand, this was due to the colonization of the world, on the other hand, the museums were created on the basis of the ideas developed during the French Revolution. They tried to take into account the desire to bring art objects that had previously been reserved for the nobility or the church closer to the people for and through contemplation. The trade in exotic products, the beginning of travel and the growing interest in the world beyond the nation-states also contributed to the perception of objects from distant cultures as art. In many national cultures, institutions, collections and museums were created to pursue and promote transnational projects. Today, events such as the Documenta in Kassel or the Venice Biennale have set themselves the task of showing the art of our world in a bundled but temporary manner. Artificial objects are detached from their original environment and placed in a new context. They meet in spaces in which they would not normally meet. As in a surrealistic montage, things meet at the same time and in the same place that never meet in “real” life. Connections, border crossings and utopian fantasies for time emerge, which make new allocations possible that are not intended in everyday life.

The STOA169 takes up this situation in an experimental form designed for durability. In order to secure the diversity of ideas in the form of visual art for the future, it invites more than 100 artists from all continents to design columns or pillars that support a common roof. The columns are arranged in hall STOA169 – “democratic” – with always the same space in between. Thus they stand at an appropriate distance next to each other as representatives of the most diverse cultural ideas in the form of visual art. This “exhibition” or installation does not reproduce any arbitrary local context in which art is supposed to function – it is thoroughly conceived as art and artificial. And this unexpected artificiality irritates.

The universalist order of the art columns conveys to us a contemporary, through the selection of particular, representative “world exhibition”, but also laws and economic practices that regulate our world and keep it “running”. This order does not become directly and simply visible, but manifests itself in the idea STOA169 itself, which forms the framework.

The STOA169 concept offers a comprehensive, overarching art experience that includes visitors to the hall – located in the middle of nature. The works of art or the columns are detached from their original local context, but have a common supporting task; they form a universe. They develop a dialogue, an aura in their supporting power, which reaches beyond a usual, spatially closed art exhibition. Visitors experience a stage-like but open space, an exhibition in which they themselves become participants. The columned hall becomes a happening space, the STOA169 an art event.

The aim of idealism and enlightenment was to create a rational world order – a mondial idea of the state that supports and recognizes different cultures. The goal of these ideas of state philosophy is still far away today. Inequality of economic as well as political power determines world politics, asymmetry of commercial practices shows the distortions of our ideas of world and values. Globalization is seen, experienced and understood by a large part of the world population as economic repression and exploitation. Through its universal, cross-border approach, the STOA169 attempts to unite at least a part of the visual “art” world – as a symbolic substitute – into a utopian, global “art state”. It intends to unfold and offer a context – the construction of a space of representation – that implies an enlightened, universalist future. The manifestations of the visual arts function as representatives of countries and nations, at the same time convincing as independent works of art that celebrate individual expression.

Polling in May 2019