• Duration of the Exhibition20. September 2014 - 01. March 2015
  • VenueHamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
  • The exhibition is made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie and supported by BMW.


© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Thomas Bruns

The artist Mariana Castillo Deball (*1975 in Mexico City) – who was awarded the “Preis der Nationalgalerie” (National Gallery Prize) in 2013 – shows a project especially developed for her solo exhibition in the historic hall at Hamburger Bahnhof. This large-scale installation unites diverse artistic reflections that intersect historical research, philosophy and art; all of which are decisive for Mariana Castillo Deball’s work. The artist appropriates specific subject areas for her own works and transfers the emergent research process, which is reminiscent to methods of archaeology, ethnography and the history of science, into a contemporary artistic use of visual forms. She sets that which has been forgotten into new contextual relationships in order to allow images to be both experienced and to create alternative readings.

In this exhibition at Hamburg Bahnhof, the artist devotes herself to the “biographies of things.” She directs her attention to objects in museum collections, where it is not unusual for them to have “spent itinerant lives wandering between courtyards, basements, pedestals, display cases, museums, traveling exhibitions and private collections” (Mariana Castillo Deball). Objects and works of art from various Berlin museums stand out as the focus of the presentation, above all, however, those that were connected to the Nationalgalerie’s collection at different points in time. As “Parergon” (supplementary work, byproduct), the title of the exhibition suggests, the history of the collections, its buildings, exhibits and protagonists is examined and decrypted, in particular with regard to its migrations and reorganizations. Castillo Deball places special attention on connections that occur outside the frame of what is known and is unambiguous.

The degree of influence that a museum (as an institution) and its representatives have on the lives and the status of objects is a major focus of the artist’s reflections. The subject of the installation is less concerned with the actual facts of the strongly research-based project, but instead aims to develop a situation that can be experienced through the senses, in which the artist links her own newly developed works to historical exhibits. New narrations and interconnections that arise between the various objects, historical breaks and chance occurrences provide Mariana Castillo Deball with the material for her own artistic interventions. She “would like to create a type of opera, in which a repertoire made up of objects, buildings and architectural reconstructions appear as the main characters” (Mariana Castillo Deball). These diverse characters enact a “stage play” at the museum, in which their old, familiar ways used in the past and their previous adventures determine the dramaturgy of the exhibition.

As a further level to her opera, the artist has created an audio piece that provides insights into the preliminary research process, and is available to the visitor in the form of an audio guide. The voices of specialists, contemporary witnesses and fictitious characters give their say and share very individual viewpoints and experiences with the visitors, which are connected to the complex history of Hamburg Bahnhof, the Nationalgalerie’s collection and the exhibits shown in the exhibition.

A publication accompanying the exhibition is being published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, with texts by Kirsty Bell, Dario Gamboni and Melanie Roumiguière.