Collection of Contemporary Art

On the Value of Time
New Presentation of the Collection of Contemporary Art

The Mu­se­um Lud­wig col­lec­tion in­cludes the most im­por­tant artists of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry and con­tem­po­rary art. The works of mod­er­nism and art from 1945 to 1970 are ar­ranged chrono­log­i­cal­ly from the up­per­most to the mid­dle floor. The con­tem­po­rary art in the stair­well and on the base­ment lev­el forms the back­bone and foun­da­tion of the mu­se­um, look­ing in­to the past and the fu­ture. At the same time, the col­lec­tion pre­sents the di­verse me­dia and con­cep­tu­al man­i­fes­ta­tions of con­tem­po­rary art, which do not fol­low a firm­ly estab­lished canon and can­not be cat­e­go­rized in­to styles.

Ev­ery two years the Mu­se­um Lud­wig pre­sents a new se­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary art from its col­lec­tion. This edi­tion, run­n­ing from Au­gust 10, 2023 till Au­gust 31, 2025, will fo­cus on dif­fer­ent con­cepts of time and ways in which artists han­dle the top­ic in their work. Many artists draw at­ten­tion to the fact that art is ex­pe­ri­enced in the pre­sent, while al­so ques­tion­ing me­m­o­ry, re­mem­brance, and his­to­ri­og­ra­phy. The pre­sen­ta­tion is framed by “val­ue of time” as a con­cep­t—a so­cial­ly de­ter­mined val­ue on which ab­s­tract, quan­ti­fi­able time is based.

The start­ing point is Wal­ter Ben­jamin’s haunt­ing im­age from 1940 of the “an­gel of his­to­ry,” with which he de­scribed the re­la­tion­ship be­tween past, pre­sent, and fu­ture. This estab­lished the con­cept of a crit­i­cal his­to­ri­og­ra­phy that orig­i­nates from eco­nom­ic pa­ram­e­ters. Vari­ous facets of this con­cept are re­flect­ed by the ex­hibit­ed works, in which tem­po­ral­i­ty takes ef­fect, the past is re­flect­ed in its re­la­tion­ship to the pre­sent, and fu­ture events are an­ti­ci­pat­ed.

In her in­s­tal­la­tion The Doc­u­men­tary: Geo­cen­tric Punc­ture from 2018, Guan Xiao (b. 1983 in Chongqing, Chi­na) con­trasts an in­ter­net-based per­cep­tion of time, in which the past seems to be pre­sent, and a be­lief in con­s­tant­ly ad­vanc­ing de­vel­op­ment. The ti­tle “Geo­cen­tric Punc­ture” can be un­der­s­tood in a sim­i­lar way: an ob­so­lete world­view, ac­cord­ing to which the sun re­volves around the earth, lives on in the twen­ty-first-cen­tu­ry view of hu­mans oc­cu­py­ing the cen­ter of the uni­verse.

Moun­tains of En­coun­ter from 2008, in con­trast, by Haegue Yang (b. 1971 in Seoul, South Ko­rea), takes the meet­ing of Ko­re­an ac­tivist Kim San and Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Nym Wales (alias Helen Fos­ter Snow)—a his­tor­i­cal event that re­mained se­cret, al­though it was part of glob­al pro­cess­es—as the point of de­par­ture for her room-filling in­s­tal­la­tion in­volv­ing vis­i­tors.

Other works in­vesti­gate ab­s­tract, quan­ti­fi­able time. This is what de­ter­mines the val­ue of la­bor and or­ganizes so­cial time. A num­ber of artists ad­dress this top­ic, in­clud­ing Harun Faroc­ki in his video in­s­tal­la­tion Ge­gen-Musik from 2004. In the style of film­mak­ers Dzi­ga Ver­tov and Wal­ter Rutt­mann, Faroc­ki makes a por­trait of the French ci­ty of Lille us­ing a mon­tage of found, op­er­a­tio­n­al im­ages that ac­cord­ing to Faroc­ki de­pict the ci­ty in way that is “just as ra­tio­n­al­ized and or­dered as a pro­duc­tion pro­cess.” The val­ue of time re­fers to the economies of time.

The pre­sen­ta­tion On the Val­ue of Time pre­sents works of con­tem­po­rary art from the last twen­ty years. Four ad­di­tio­n­al, ex­em­plary works from the 1960s and 1980 are in­te­grat­ed in­to the pre­sen­ta­tion. The di­ver­si­ty of me­dia is par­tic­u­lar­ly im­por­tant. Short texts pro­vide in­tro­duc­tions to the in­di­vi­d­u­al works, and the pre­sen­ta­tion is aug­ment­ed by quotes from artists as well as Wal­ter Ben­jamin and his con­tem­po­rary, the philo­so­pher and economist Al­fred Sohn-Rethel.

Fea­tured artists: Tho­mas Bayr­le, Alighiero Boet­ti, Frank Bowl­ing, Miri­am Cahn, Mark Dion, Maria Eich­horn, Harun Faroc­ki, Guan Xiao, Wade Guy­ton, Lubai­na Himid, Ull Hohn, Re­bec­ca Horn, Anne Imhof, Boaz Kaiz­man, Car­o­lyn Lazard, Jochen Lem­pert, Pau­line Mʼbarek, Ker­ry James Mar­shall, Park McArthur, Os­car Muril­lo, Fü­sun Onur, Asim­i­na Paradis­sa, Robert Rauschen­berg, Cameron Row­land, Ju­lia Sch­er, An­dreas Schulze, An­dreas Siek­mann, Di­a­mond Stingi­ly, Danh Vo, Lois Wein­berg­er, Haegue Yang

Cu­ra­tor: Bar­bara En­gel­bach

The new pre­sen­ta­tion is sup­port­ed by the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig. e.V. and the In­ter­na­tio­n­al So­ci­e­ty Mu­se­um Lud­wig.