BACK STAGE (In Memory of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg)

10 March - 21 April 2007

For approximately three years now the formalist debate of the 1950s has been the focus of the artistic production of Tilo Schulz (born 1972). In the 50s, the political realism of the East clashed with the abstract art of the West. It's really not at all surprising that during the period of the Cold War a debate such as this one took such excessive ideological forms that, even if it was not overtly political, it nonetheless spawned passionate positions on both sides and was thus correspondingly functionalized. That which seemed to become a grotesque extension of the Cold War within high culture now forms the foundation of a series of pieces created by the Leipzig artist Tilo Schulz which apply a contemporary perspective to the topic. "In doing so, [Schulz] is less concerned with the reconstruction of a historical conflict than, to a greater extent, the aesthetic alienation backdropped against the condition postmoderne." (Andreas Höll)

Alongside a variety of pieces from the immediate past in which Schulz approaches the subject on a somewhat general level, a specific historic political event stands in the center of the exhibition "BACK STAGE (In Memory of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg)": The court trial of the American Jewish couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, which caused an intense international furor at the start of the 1950s. They were accused of committing atomic espionage for the Soviet Union. Although they contested the accusations and despite rigorous national and international protest, they were both sentenced to death in 1951; they went to the electric chair in New York in 1953. Following the end of the Cold War, it emerged that Ethel Rosenberg was probably innocent and wrongly executed. Her husband, in turn, was most likely only involved in passing on unimportant military information to the Soviet Union. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are considered the most well-known victims of the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy Era of the USA.

As Schulz sees it, the formalist debate that followed the Second World War cannot be understood without the consideration of the politics of the Cold War. A free-standing wall made of concrete slabs divides the two exhibition rooms of the gallery and serves as the background for a wall painting that, with the words "IRON CURTAIN" not only literally plays upon the symbol of the separation of the East and West, but also simultaneously refers to its topographic proximity: The former Berlin Wall at Bernauer Street is within walking distance of the gallery. The "corner" caused by the concrete wall in the smaller exhibition room is equipped with references to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and their politically motivated execution.

The to-date most extensive solo exhibition of the artist, titled "Formschön", can still to be seen at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Leipzig until 9 April. The exhibition catalogue, published by Jovis Verlag Berlin, features texts by Andreas Höll and Barbara Steiner as well as a conversation between Tilo Schulz and Ilina Koralova.

From 24 March to 6 May, "Sweet Dreams", another solo exhibition of Tilo Schulz is likewise to be viewed at Magazin4 Bregenzer Kunstverein.

Opening hours: Tue-Sat, 11 am - 6 pm

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-> download press release in GERMAN