Rainer Oldendorf | "marco 15" and HIVE/Section Film: Gustave

20 March - 01 May 2022 | Kunstverein, Weil-am-Rheim

marco  is a picaresque film, a fictional portrait developed in episodes since 1995, combining different sculptural forms.

The most recent episode, marco14, connected the iterations of Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. It tells the story of Paul, beginning with his involvement in the left-wing politics of the 1970's. The plot also covers the  shooting sites, their inhabitants and  the circumstances of the film’s production itself.  Paul is portrayed by Marco Gallo, with whom Oldendorf (born 1961) has been friends since his youth in the southwestern German town of Lörrach and whose first name also gives the film its title. Paul is a polyglot and acts as a catalyst, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds


marco15  will take place in 2022 in and around  the exhibition - on  all  three  floors  of  the  Stapflehus  in Weil am Rhein, taking the form of a seminar and film shoot.  Milica Topalovic from ETH Zurich developed  the exhibition architecture using furniture from Oldendorf's collection.   Teenagers and young adults from Weil am Rhein and its surroundings,  students from the HIVE group of the research program "le corps de l'artiste" at the Besançon University of Art and Design will perform together with artists in the exhibition under the direction of Rainer Oldendorf.


The exhibition will include works by Andreas Fohr, Dean Inkster, Marianne Maric, John Murphy, Patrick Neu, Pierre Soignon and Milica Topalovic, curated by  Mieke Aden.


"The Kunstverein Weil am Rhein has invited Rainer Oldendorf (* 1961 in Lüchow) to the Stapflehus without imposing any artistic restriction. We seldom realise what such generosity means: invitation, acceptance, admission. Casual but decisive, unconditional, but not disinterested. Such interest, however, can have different qualities. Rare are those hosts who are exclusively and selflessly interested in the other and their uniqueness and strangeness, even when they put the usual structures of their thinking and understanding to the test. On the contrary, many hosts must be presumed to have a certain self-interest when they extend their invitation, especially when it implies the unspoken expectation of reciprocity. 


"Certainly," the host may retort, "but that is secondary. Be welcome! Feel invited to cross the threshold of my house!" In this sentence, however, the true crux of any hospitality, no matter how magnanimous, becomes apparent. 

For we are dealing with a certain threshold, an indivisible threshold, a threshold whose border is drawn and which marks that someone is at home here, who affirms his dominion and selfhood with an invitation. 


This is a fundamental contradiction that Jacques Derrida has pointed out. He even claims that  hospitality, in a sense, always does the opposite of what it seems to do. According to Derrida, however, there is one place where this double bind of hospitality is suspended: that is the threshold itself. If it is possible to meet on the threshold, in this intermediate zone where inside and outside touch, assertions such as "mine and yours", "I and you" or "self and other" lose their importance. This does not mean that they no longer exist. But on the threshold they become ghosts without power-based self-assurance, allowing each other to be, to be free. On the threshold, this area of transition, of the in-between, become a counterpart with whom an unreserved relationship and dialogue can develop. "From certainty to certainty, but also from open-minded person to open-minded person," said the philosopher of religion, Martin Buber. "Only then will the true communion prove itself (...), that of fear and expectation."


Where else, if not in art, can such ephemeral and yet real threshold states be created.  Rainer Oldendorf has created many such threshold constellations in the Stapflehus, in which connections between the most diverse modes of expression and images emerge without forcing standardisation. You could call him a catalyst who links people, times and things without knowing at the beginning what exactly will come out of it. He takes this risk to create a single polyphonic sculpture over the three floors of the Stapflehus, in which mediating references emerge between the self and the other, between inside and outside, between history and the present, between the local and the global, between research and knowledge and much more.


The Stapflehus is no longer a place of representation, but a tool for the production of participation and networking, both internally and externally. To this end, Rainer Oldendorf has invited friends, among others, to participate in the exhibition.  Their work is presented alongside Oldendorf’s works in a wall-filling shelf in the basement. In a way, the shelf becomes a score for a polyphonic composition with expressive melodic arcs, finely tuned rhythms and a few interesting key changes.


If we turn our gaze from there to the windows and look outside, we see a memorial plaque on the opposite church wall, which reads: "Here rests Gustave Fecht. Joh. Peter Hebel's friend. born 22 August 1768, died 23 April 1828". Her painted portrait (NN: Gustave Fecht, ca. 1785) hangs amidst historical furniture (R.O. collection), reviving her life at the beginning of the 19th century. Johann Peter Hebel had assured her of his undying devotion and adoration in amusing letters until his death. This love, however, remained a romantic fantasy. Hebel's  words touch on something that cannot be touched.


This is precisely what interests Rainer Oldendorf as an artist; knowing the contingency of constitutive assertions, he says: here I am, documenting the nutrient solutions and stories of my life with the courage of conjecture. He presents the films, photos, slides, artist's books and ephemera; posters and maps created in the process on all three levels of the Stapflehus. On the top floor, a kind of private ambience has been created where we can watch episodes 1 - 14 of his films "marco". On the second floor he has set up a workroom where not only studying can be done, but also where lectures and seminars will be held during the exhibition. Together with the representation room in the basement, the three floors of the house will form the backdrop for the latest episode of his marco series.

Throughout the exhibition we encounter certain colours, shades, forms, figures and layers etc . At such points, due to formal, aesthetic or content-related relationships, resonances begin to sound and conjecture about meanings can arise."


Maike  Aden, Paris


March 15, 2022
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