That other world, the world of the teapot. tenderness a model is a group exhibition on tenderness, referring to the 2018 Nobel Prize lecture by the writer and Nobel Prize winner in literature Olga Tokarczuk. Tenderness, she said in her Nobel Prize speech, “is the most modest form of love. It is the kind of love that does not appear in the scriptures or the gospels, no one swears by it, no one cites it. It has no special emblems or symbols, nor does it lead to crime, or prompt envy. It appears wherever we take a close and careful look at another being, at something that is not our ‘self’.” Especially in these so difficult, partly aggressive and war-torn times, the topic of tenderness might become more important and topical than ever. The group exhibition that other world, the world of the teapot. tender¬ness, a model is the largest and most comprehensive show in recent history at the Kestner Gesellschaft. It embarks on a search for artists as tender narrator and focuses on the themes of tenderness, care, and hospitality. In paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, video works, performances, and utilitarian objects, the works revolve around themes of sensitivity, violence, fragility, love, and healing.
International and national loans – also from collections in Hanover
With loans of works from Germany and abroad, from public and private collections in Hanover, including the Sprengel Museum Hannover, the Landesmuseum Hannover, the Museum August Kestner, and the Ahlers Collection, the exhibition enters into a dialogue with the community around it about the cultural history of tenderness. In its search for tender narrators, the show ranges from the idealized nature in 17-century Baroque paintings to Käthe Kollwitz’s political graphics; modernism and the dissolution of bodily forms in painting and sculpture; figuration in the work of Alexander Archipenko, Hans Arp, Fernand Léger, and Francis Picabia; Alice Neel’s realistic, expressive paintings; Maria Lassnig’s Woman Laokoon (1976); Renate Bertlmann’s Zärtlicher Tanz (1976); and Dorothy Iannone’s People series.
Cross-generational dialogue on the uncertainties of the present
The exhibition features a variety of perspectives leading up to the present, including the AIDS crisis in the 1980s with photographs by Peter Hujar such as Anthony Blond (I) (1981), works by the conceptual and feminist artists Ewa Partum and Valie Export, little-known textile nature-related works by Barbara Levittoux-Świderska, and queer imagery from the most recent generation of artists such as Yong Xiang Li, Dominique Knowles, and Kayode Ojo. With the highly topical work Gazelka (2015) by the Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan and site-specific installations by Joana Escoval and Jochen Lempert, the Kestner Gesellschaft opens up a cross-generational dialogue on the un¬certainties of the precarious present.
44 artists with over 150 works from the 17th century to the present day
The exhibition includes over 150 works by more than 44 historical and contemporary international artists, from the 17th century to the present, and shows numerous new productions by the artists Enrico David, Shannon Ebner, Joana Escoval, Heide Hinrichs, Jochen Lempert and Kayode Ojo.
Teapots and that other worlds
In her Nobel Lecture, she recalls Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of a teapot that is broken due to people’s clumsiness and carelessness and is immediately discarded and rejected. In addition to the artworks in the exhibition, teapots from different decades are presented. They show idealistic images of nature with animals, scenes of loneliness and sharing, ideas of a better world through design, the disappearance of the outer form, a view of inner life, the transforma-tion of porcelain into natural forms, and the metamorphosis of the teapot into a space capsule, ready to departure into other worlds.
Reflection on the human psyche and its fragility
Artworks, assembled within the relational architecture of this exhibition, demonstrate tenderness as a lyrical power with a political charge. From the approach to materials to the elaboration of form, the use of color, and the thematic consideration of the human psyche and its fragility, here we find an investigation of surface sensations, an anatomy of tenderness and attention, an empathic journey into that other world, the world of the teapot that Olga Tokarczuk dreamed of.
Search for a tender narrator for a world in crisis
The exhibition that other world, the world of the teapot. tenderness, a model is a search for such a tender narrator. As a manifesto of sorts, it is a portrait of tenderness as a desired, possible modus operandi for the world in an ontological crisis and doubt, its emergency alphabet of vulnerability, endurance, and resilience. The tender narrator is a conscious homo empathicus, who practices critical intimacy and considers tenderness “a way of looking that shows the world as being alive, living, interconnected, cooperating with, and codependent on itself.”
As such, this exhibition is a possibility of a new paradigm, an offer “to visit the other. The other, the tender–extend her, extend him. The proof of the tender is only in tending” (Jacques Derrida), a visit accompanied by a candid appearance by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, a tender narrator.
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