State of things

... or the search for the now - a proposal by Harald F. Theiss, art historian | curator

October 8 - November 26, 2021

The exhibition project State of Things brings together different yet related observations, for the most part in positions from fine artists working with photography and film, and interprets current events both in and out of our proximity. It thus takes up a certain conceptual orientation and initiative: Europe—as a shared idea under the sign of discovery and exchange, connections and affiliations, present and future. The word connection signifies relationship, community, and coherence. Among other things, Wikipedia writes that the term stands for the union of two objects, where it is irrelevant if both remain the same in their respective properties or if they become a new substance altogether with altered properties.

This exhibition project lends itself to the city of Chemnitz as the future European Capital of Culture, serving as a preview of the Cultural Year 2025. In increasingly unsettled times, it asks about the current state of affairs and the now; once again, it not only allows attention to be paid to community(ies), but also articulates the search for revitalization and perspective after the most recent period of generalized social and cultural standstill. In the (s)election of artistic positions, the question is also raised of a political and socially relevant turn towards the photographic medium. An attempt is also made here to discuss and update the medium’s extended relationship to reality brought on by its borderless and universal comprehensibility: where does reality end, and where does the (staged) interpretation begin?
At the site of the exhibition, connections and fusions with other forms of artistic expression consciously take shape. They reflect not only the conditions of the medium but expand it into geographies of visual metaphors and context(s). Associative links mark out new spaces for action that lead to (critical) interrelations between the public, society, and mediation. As well, exhibition spaces are an indispensable platform for exchange and involvement from many actors, thus they are not least significant as a contribution that goes beyond cultural life. For the public, they open up a participatory space where the everyday passage of time is interrupted and familiarity is questioned using other forms of communication; here, new connections also become visible.
Are previously established and contractually stipulated ties presently dissolving? Are unprecedented alliances emerging after this social, civic, and economic standstill, that point to something along the lines of ‘Nothing remains what it seems’, producing new relations—in altered manifestations, moods, and perceptions—for a world that has become fragile? The philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas expressed in an interview: ‘There has never been so much knowledge about our unknowing and about the compulsion to act under uncertainty.’* Is it necessary, then, to rethink a dialectic of enlightenment; more freedom and equality instead of border-strengthening initiatives? Are greater regional tendencies already recognizable that imply—to take up the controversial thoughts of essayist Robert Menasse—that in the future there will be no nations, but only regions? What of his proposal of a network of regions for Europe, in which greater human—not national—decisions are emphasized?**
This exhibition project does not seek traditional European representations, but instead uses artistic means and individual reflections to try to understand the present, which appears more than ever detached from national identities and affiliations. State of Things is suitable as a thought or even a motif for social and civic renewal. Changes of perspective are negotiated between dialogue and food for thought. In a fragile present, the project thus provides a discursive platform for diverse views and encounters. The exhibition is an attempt to search for other images and emotions in the now, beyond the mass media with their daily repetitive and increasingly ineffective flood of images. Through conceptual and not only photographic positions, familiar (visual) boundaries are abolished in order to approach an alternative conception of things. At the edges of that which is documentary, new alliances can be observed in the present. As a sort of protocol, variations on the narrative are made visible, and the exhibited works become vehicles for speculation, allowing free space for associations, outlooks, and meanings in the (new) reality...

* Frankfurter Rundschau, 10.04.2020.  ** Tagesspiegel, 13.10.2017.

Alexandra Baumgartner

Carsten Becker

Nadja Bournonville

Lia Darjes

Niklas Goldbach

Claudio Gobbi

Sven Johne

Tobias Kappel

Ilona Kálnoky

Andréas Lang

Christian Niccoli

Julian Röder

Stefanie Seufert

Gallery Konstanze Wolter

e.artis contemporary
Theaterstraße 58
09111 Chemnitz

Tel.: +49 (0)371 8000 7880


The source materials for Alexandra Baumgartner’s works are found objects and photographs, which are modified through her interventions and placed in a new context. Her working method is similar to that of collage. From existing visual realities, she removes essential visual information and modifies the found objects so that the original context recedes into the background. Through painting, sewing, partial removal, or by incorporating further elements, she adds a second reality that, together with the source material, forms a new reality. Not infrequently, she explores the boundaries between fact and fiction and re-stages, with subtle objets trouvés, the ambiguity of depicted reality...

Alexandra Baumgartner was born in Salzburg. She studied at the Mozarteum University Salzburg and at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, has received numerous awards and scholarships, and exhibits internationally. Her works are in the collections of the DZ Bank Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt am Main, the Kunstsammlung des Landes Salzburg and the Salzburg Museum, among others. Alexandra Baumgartner lives and works in Vienna.


  • 110 X 80 CM - FRAMED

CIRCLE, 2015

  • 70 X 50 CM - FRAMED


  • 48 X 36 CM - FRAMED
  • EDITION 5 + 2 AP

RUMÄNIEN (N 1603 BILD-017, HORST GRUND, 1941, 2019/21

  • 48 X 36 CM - FRAMED
  • EDITION 5 + 2 AP


How does history affect the present? In his serial work Agfacolor, made from photo-historical visual materials, Carsten Becker refers to the importance of information and its political, opinion-forming function in shaping public perceptions. He thereby addresses the mechanisms of power and the manipulation of images, again a widely discussed topic now focused on the distortion and displacement of the supposed mass-media expression of reality, and its conception of it. On view are speculative photographic croppings taken from colour photos of German propaganda soldiers. The former dangers of influence and control appear again, closer than ever before. With his abstract, narrative style, Becker not only opens up a space of interpretative variations, but also questions the demands and expectations of the visual (information) medium today, which is subject to an increasing loss of control.

Carsten Becker studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne from 1994 to 1999. The conceptual artist is a two-time winner of the German Thesis Award (Körber-Stiftung). His works have been shown internationally at the Architekturzentrum Wien, Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin, Haunt / frontviews, Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan, in Athens and at Paradiso Amsterdam. Carsten Becker lives and works in Berlin.


In her group of works Blindfell, the fine art photographer Nadja Bournonville concentrates on vision itself and disturbances in perception as the initial situation for an examination of the world around us. In an interview, she said that her aim was “…to use photography as a means to learn more and more about foreign topics. It’s my way of understanding the world better.” Transferred to social contexts, seeing does not only mean gaining cognition of the invisible, but above all signifies a critical reflection on the politics of vision and cognition as well as perception in troubled times. Seeing, as a confrontation with reality, is both an appeal to the culture of remembrance (Erinnerungskultur) and the ways of dealing with society, history, and the public sphere associated with it.

Nadja Bournonville is a Swedish fine art photographer and was born in Vimmbery in 1983. She studied fine art photography at the Glasgow School of Art and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) Leipzig. She is a two-time grant recipient of the Stiftung Kunstfonds and has participated in the project gute aussichten – junge deutsche fotografie. Her works have been shown in countless international exhibitions, including at the Akademie der Künste and Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, Deichtorhallen House of Photography Hamburg, Fotohof Salzburg and Bonniers Konsthall Stockholm. Since 2008, the artist has been represented by Pierogi New York. Nadja Bournonville lives and works in Berlin.


  • 93 X 74 CM - FRAMED
  • EDITION 2 + 1 AP


  • 40 X 50 CM - FRAMED
  • EDITION 2 + 1 AP


How could it come to pass that non-believers or Christians might become enthusiastic about a religion, whose language and semantics they often do not understand, and whose traditional rites at first glance have little in common with their own cultural-historical origins? Lia Darjes pursued this question, taking as her theme common ways of seeing Islam, between fascination and fear, in western-orientated societies. Through a photographic dialogue, a different perspective is added to the general point of view, possibly creating a proximity to strangeness. At the same time, it opens the discourse on variations of viewing and being informed by images.


  • EACH 50 X 50 CM - FRAMED

Lia Darjes was born in 1984 in Berlin. She studied with Ute Mahler at the HAW in Hamburg and then in the master class of Ute Mahler and Ingo Taubhorn at the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin. She has worked as a freelance photographer since 2011 and has received several awards for her fine art photography. Her work has been exhibited in Germany, France, Canada, Russia, and Switzerland and published in national and international media, such as Le Monde and CNN. She has received various grants and prizes, including as an emerging talent as part of the Art Prize of the Lotto Foundation Brandenburg. Since 2018, she has been teaching at the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin. Lia Darjes lives and works in Berlin.


In steady camera shots, Niklas Goldbach explores—between the poles of society and individual—the architecture and nature of a built landscape of fences, razor wire, and surveillance cameras along an inner-European border dividing France and the United Kingdom. Depicted is a security installation operated by a private company. People remain invisible in the film. In this artificial-looking landscape in the midst of a supposedly liberal and generous Europe, the spatially predominant architecture in view manifests control, restriction of freedom, and demarcation.



Niklas Goldbach was born in Witten in 1973. He studied Sociology at Bielefeld University, Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, New York City, and Experimental Media Design at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he graduated with a master’s degree in 2005. He has taught as a visiting professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. His work has been supported by several working and residency grants, including the Villa Aurora Los Angeles, and has been awarded prizes and exhibited internationally at: Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Mori-Art Museum, Tokyo, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Barbican Arts Center, London, Kunsthaus Dresden, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein n.b.k., Cornerhouse, Manchester, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Centre Pompidou, Paris, ZKM Karlsruhe, documenta 14 public programs, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Berlinische Galerie, and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Niklas Goldbach lives and works in Berlin.


Claudio Gobbi’s long-term projects explore European history, collective memory, and cultural borders. In Persistence, the theatre is seen as an unchanging place, everywhere with the same identity-forming and border-spanning function. Through the images of these spaces, a different cartography of cultural places emerges, detached from nations, that is shared by all countries and that connects them together. It shows old Europe, which proves nevertheless ready for new borderless developments and expansions. Under changing socio-political situations, further meanings are added to the theatre halls, which simultaneously reflect on past, present, and future cultural life and its perspectives.


  • 96 X 48 CM- GERAHMT


  • 96 X 48 CM- GERAHMT


  • 96 X 48 CM- GERAHMT


  • 96 X 48 CM- GERAHMT

Claudio Gobbi was born in 1971 in Ancona, Italy. He studied political science in Rome and photography in Milan. His photographic work has been shown in international exhibitions, he has received several renowned prizes, and he was an Artist in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. With his photographs, he seeks to probe the limits of photography as a medium. His monograph on Armenian churches (Hatje Cantz Verlag) was nominated for the 2016 Book Prize of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. Claudio Gobbi lives and works in Berlin.


The Białowieża Forest is the last lowland primeval forest in Europe, and today it is a shielded, protected area with warning signs: since March 12, 1999, the NATO external border has run through this primeval forest, and since May 1, 2004, it has also represented the external border of the European Union. The inner protected zone—according to UNESCO an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’—is thus divided in two: half Polish, half Belarusian. The multi-part work by Sven Johne is the result of the artist’s personal experience in this region and poses the question of belonging amid disorientation, here in this border area between different political systems.


  • 100 X 137 CM, FRAMED

Sven Johne was born in 1976 in Bergen on the island of Rügen. From 1998 to 2006 he studied photography at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) Leipzig with Timm Rautert. In 2010/11 he was a visiting professor in photography at the HGB Leipzig (substituting for Heidi Specker). He has had solo exhibitions at Camera Austria Graz, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden, Fondazione Mora Greco Napol and group exhibitions at Witte de With Rotterdam, mudam Luxemburg and MMK Frankfurt. He was a prize-winner at the Villa Massimo in Rome. Sven Johne lives and works in Berlin. 


In her mixed sculptures, the plastic artist Ilona Kálnoky thematises and translates twists, links and new connections; sometimes upon completion she leaves behind only a photographic image. Often using raw materials obtained from the hardware store, she sets processes in motion that are not always controllable and not infrequently remain in an unfinished state. In her choice of materials and linked artistic examination and deformation of them, the view of things and thus the awareness of social conditions changes, all without renouncing the potential for further development.

FIGUR 10, 2016

  • 60 X 10 CM


  • CA. 25 X 15 X 30 CM

FIGUR 1, 2014

  • 47 X 16 X 9,5 CM


  • 20 X 20 X 21 CM

Ilona Kálnoky was born in 1968 in Styria, Austria. After her studies at the Fachhochschule für Keramik, she studied at the weissensee academy of art with Karin Sander and Bernd Wilde. She has exhibited at the Kunstkammer of the Georg Kolbe Museum, Galerie Heike Curtze Vienna, Landesgalerie Salzburg, Galerie Nord, Galerie Nosbaum Reding, Haus am Lützowplatz and galerie weisser elefant in Berlin. She is co-founder of the UM Festival for contemporary art, music, and literature. Ilona Kálnoky teaches at the HNE Eberswalde and lives in Berlin.


Tobias Kappel is interested in the translation processes of existing photographic materials and their associative potential in processes of re-viewing and reception. By altering the photographic subject through a procedure of reproduction, he creates a new, unique work. In doing so, he simultaneously adds a different notion of information to the existing materials. When choosing his subjects, he is interested in the discourse on different perceptions of collectively shaped ways of seeing, and in the conception of images as status reports on existing reality.


  • 60 X 45 CM
  • EDITION 1 + 1 AP


Tobias Kappel was born in Potsdam in 1987 and studied visual communication with a main focus on multimedia photography and the technical image at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel. His conceptual photographic works have received several awards, including from the German Photographic Society (DGPh), and have been shown at C/O Berlin. Further presentations were recently shown at the MKdW, Alkersum/Föhr, Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation in Berlin as part of the group exhibition Seestücke | Fakten und Fiktion, Haunt / frontviews and Robert Morat Galerie, Berlin. Tobias Kappel lives and works in Berlin. 


Andréas Lang’s mostly long-term projects are always about the history(s) of places, which at first glance might seem to depict something unreal. The fine art photographer succeeds in looking behind reality with his camera, and, in this way, he continually poses new questions about the truth. Warteraum (Waiting Room) allows for new contemplation and ‘describes’ the inner state of an unprecedented and incomparable situation of social, civic, and economic relevance. In the new reality, this room becomes both a bearer of emotions and a free space for associations with a hopeful outlook between work, production, and life.


  • 104 X 118 CM, FRAMED
  • AUFLAGE 6 +2 AP

Andréas Lang was born in Zweibrücken/Palatinate in 1965. From 1985 to 1991 he was assistant to the photographers Dieter Blum, Michael Leis, and Werner Janda. He later lived in Paris as a freelance photographer. After numerous project-related stays abroad and research trips, he produced many of his well-known photographs and films on postcolonial history. In his works, Andréas Lang researches long-forgotten places between reality and fiction, between longing and failure. In his artistic archaeology of the imagined, past and present are equally alive. He has recently had solo exhibitions at the DHM, Guardini Gallery, Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation in Berlin and Münchner Stadtmuseum, among others. Andréas Lang is the winner of this year’s Lotto Brandenburg Art Prize for Photography; he lives and works in Berlin.


Niccoli’s films, which often have something absurd about them, always have to do with the artist’s autobiographical experiences and are therefore as much self-analysis as they are critical observations of our society and reality. Research into the mechanisms of interpersonal relationships within a given system represents an important aspect of Christian Niccoli’s cinematography. In the selected work, a man is dropped off by helicopter in the middle of a landscape that seems to be a desert. In a metaphorical way, the film tells of the radical moment of being exposed to a (foreign) world and reflects on the associated expectations as well as existential experiences of life.



Christian Niccoli was born in 1976 in South Tyrol, Italy. He studied at the art academies in Florence, Milan, and Vienna. His award-winning films have been presented internationally in museums and institutions, including Kunsthaus Graz, Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal, the National Museum of Cinema in Torino, 21er Haus – Museum of Contemporary Art in Vienna, Berlinische Galerie and House of World Cultures in Berlin, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris, Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, Para Site / Art Space in Hong Kong, Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, MUSEION in Bozen, FABRIKA Centre for Creative Industries in Moscow, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore, EAC – Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo in Montevideo, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Szczecin, ACCEA – Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yerevan, and within the frame of transmediale in Berlin. Christian Niccoli lives and works in Berlin.


Julian Röder’s photographic work moves between forms of communication and narration. In this way, it provokes, in dialog with reality, what at first might seem like an alternate observation of events. With a conceptual documentary approach, his (critical) images are reminiscent of historical motifs from art history and advertising. The aesthetic imagery is irritating at first glance, as it refers to socio-political structures of crises, power, and economies. The works become brainteasers about protests, altered states, and potential departures. It was recently written in the NZZ that we need a (different) ‘68’ in contemporary societies. Fifty years after ‘68’, the world is facing new political challenges and conflict situations. These signs of resistance are, in a certain way, updated with the series Summits by Julian Röder.


  • C- PRINT
  • 50 X 74,5 CM, FRAMED

Julian Röder was born in 1981 in Erfurt. He studied at the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin and later at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) Leipzig and the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg. Julian Röder’s works have been shown in group exhibitions as well as solo exhibitions at numerous significant institutions, including C/O Berlin, Berlin, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Kunstverein Ulm, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, ZKM Karlsruhe, House of World Cultures, Berlin, and the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. In 2014, Röder received the Ellen Auerbach Scholarship for Photography from the Akademie der Künste Berlin. Julian Röder lives and works in Berlin.


Stefanie Seufert’s imagery focuses on alternative ways of interpreting artistic courses of action, which are concerned with the connection and relationship between visibility and reality. This does not necessarily occur in favour of a narrative, formal language; rather, her photographic abstractions, which partly seem ephemeral, appear as attempts to capture sensitivity and fluid states; to make them perceptible. The artist thus questions the depictability of reality, moments of chance encounters, and the unpredictable. In doing so, she especially refers to shifts in the seeing of things and the condition of our time, as well as within the photographic medium itself.


  • 104 X 118 CM, FRAMED

Stefanie Seufert was born in Göttingen in 1969. She studied at the Lette Verein Berlin and at the Berlin University of the Arts. Her works have recently been shown at the following institutions, among others: Berlinische Galerie, DZ Bank Kunstsammlung Frankfurt, Kunstbibliothek im Museum für Fotografie Berlin, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, Kunsthalle Darmstadt, CPAP Havana, Cuba, Camera Austria, Graz, Fotogalerie Wien, Robert Morat Galerie, Berlin. Stefanie Seufert lives and works in Berlin.