Nichts Neues. Nothing new? Really nothing new since 1990? When it comes to Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt’s oeuvre, the “old” is always current and renegotiated with each generation.
In 1990, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt (*1932 in Wurzen) stopped working artistically—uncompromising, like her work itself. When an artist is so far ahead of her time, then it’s only logical to stop producing when she chooses, knowing that everything has been said and remains valid. It was the unusual decision of an artist who equally defied the constraints of the art world and the art market. An artist who worked on her typewriter with diligence, humor, ease, and an enviable distance from her own creations. An artist who went her own way and whose work has so much potential to inspire artists of generations to come.
The exhibition Nichts Neues follows the words of the artist. Her works show the way. Her work titles therefore comprise the topics and titles for the three exhibition episodes. Through examining the content of the works, we would like to ascertain which pressing questions moved the artist to sit down at the typewriter and begin typing, line by line. The first episode “Many Open Questions” concentrates on the tracing and overcoming of physical, cognitive, and systemic boundaries. The question “Whether Nature Overreached Itself When it Took on Mankind” is the point of departure the second episode, which presciently interrogates anthropocentrism and addresses environmental destruction and conservation. Based on pressing social issues like war and peace, interpersonal relationships, and information technologies, the last episode poses the question “Where Do You Stand?” thereby inviting reflection upon one’s own standpoint and convictions.
The title of this exhibition, Nichts Neues, also comes from the artist herself. When she was asked to produce something “new” for an exhibition in 2018, she, quick-witted and full of irony, had a stamp made with the inscription “Nichts Neues”; not a new work, therefore, but a logical confirmation of her own decision to never produce anything new, and simultaneously a challenge to the visitor to be active themselves and stamp “Nichts Neues” on a blank card. So, nothing new? No way!
Paola Malavassi, director DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam
Photos by Ladislav Zajac