With works by Aambulanz-Kollektiv:
Michel Castaignet, Kathrin Landa, Florence Obrecht, Axel Pahlavi, Alexej Tchernyi, Alex Tennigkeit und Wu Zhi
Curated by Katharina Schilling
„I found it hard, it’s hard to find. Oh well, whatever, never mind.“ With these lyrics Kurt Cobain described the search for identity of adolescents and young adults in the early 1990s. A theme that also artistically preoccupies the members of the Aambulanz collective, Michel Castaignet, Kathrin Landa, Florence Obrecht, Axel Pahlavi, Alexej Tchernyi, Alex Tennigkeit and Wu Zhi.
The Aambulanz collective was founded in 2020, in the first year of the still ongoing Corona pandemic, to make a statement against the isolation and dreariness of the new artists‘ everyday life. Bound by friendship and collegiality, they seek to initiate exhibition projects and encourage each other in their individual art making, which never has to be artistically subordinate to the collective. The fact that most of the artists in the collective are painters played a minor role in the founding idea. The collaboration includes both the joint exhibition of their personal works and the production of joint artworks in a division-of-labour process.
All members of the Aambulanz collective share a common interest in human beings. Their inner life, their place in society, their visions, their doubts and (failed) hopes, as well as a preference for the figurative and representational, for the exploration of the counterpart in the portrait, for the artistic examination of one’s own person in the self-portrait. A fundamental fascination of the group for capturing fragile states of mind is palpable. The desire to unite the oscillation between different feelings in a portrait. The portraits are intricately composed and combine old master painting techniques with the photorealism of new media. Viewers may discover iconographic elements of the biblical story in the works as well as references to pop cultural phenomena of our time.
Another unifying element of the internationally composed Aambulanz collective is that they all experienced their formative teenage years in the late 1980s and earlier 1990s. A time when MTV was founded, US-American series and movies became popular, neon colors succeeded and Kurt Cobain became the face of the grunge movement. It was a time when the last young people grew up without the constant use of computers and cell phones.
For the exhibition „Back to the Future“, just like teenager Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett L. „Doc“ Brown in the legendary fiction film trilogy of the same name, „Back to the Future,“ the collective’s members embark on a journey through time that takes them to both the past and the future.
As in the first part of the film trilogy, the artists first beam themselves back about 30 years for the collective work created for the exhibition at Kunstverein Markdorf and confront the visitors with an installation of teenage self-portraits. Shy, gentle, self-confident, they look at the viewers head-on or in three-quarter profile, gazing at the ground or fixing their opposite with their chin up. We meet seven young people who still have the majority of their lives ahead of them, who are curious about what may yet come. In terms of exhibition dramaturgy, this installation acts as a kind of prologue, as a preface that tunes in to the theme of the exhibition – adolescence, growing up. In addition, all the artists of the collective show children’s and youth portraits that have been created in recent years.