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Cologne Fragments

Galerie Nagel Draxler, Cologne, 2020

Opening: Friday, 28 February, 6–9pm

Galerie Nagel Draxler
Elisenstraße 4–6
50667 Köln

Wednesday – Friday 11am–6pm
Saturday 11am–4pm

Text: Cologne Fragments
Thomas Kilpper’s oeuvre reflects the political history of the 20th and 21st centuries. In this history, the success and gain of one often means defeat to the point of annihilation of the other. This constellation, which is hostile to the achievements of a democratically constituted society, seems to be repeated today in even shorter cycles. In Kilpper’s often large-sized woodcuts, the protagonists of the systems of justice and injustice meet in the form of collages. Woodcut is an ancient technique, that was used to circulate texts and illustrations in early letterpress as well as to produce critical pamphlets and manifestos of resistance. Thomas Kilpper uses the process not only to produce prints, but also to carve out pictorial traces of events of historical dimension in materials, that are often associated with their specific locations.

Already in 1997, as a master student of Georg Herold at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Kilpper made a woodcut from the parquet floor of the former Soviet military mission in Frankfurt am Main-Niederrad, that was planned to be demolished. This was followed in 1998 by his project don´t look back in the former US Army Camp King in Oberursel, where he covered the entire wooden parquet of the former basketball hall with motifs, that critically referred the venue’s history. Then in 2000 with The Ring, Kilpper carved a 400 square meters woodcut into the mahogany parquet on the 10th floor of the traditional “Orbit House” in Southwark, London. In 2009 Kilpper worked in the deserted Ministry of State Security of the GDR in East Berlin. Under the title State of Control, he cut the history of the institution, that was based on state surveillance and repression, into the 800 square meters PVC floor of the building’s canteen, including numerous portraits of West German protagonists. From the carvings on site Kilpper always took prints on paper or fabric that became installations or single images.

In his exhibition Köln Fragmente Thomas Kilpper now takes a look at the German history of fascination with, and exploitation and persecution of the foreign, using the example of the history of the Rhineland from the post-war period to the present. The solemn greeting of the one millionth migrant worker Armando Rodrigues de Sá on September 10, 1964 by the German workers’ associations is contrasted by the pictures of the striking Ford employees, anti-Turkish newspaper headlines and the racist NSU attacks. Chapters are also dedicated to Cologne as an epicenter of art, the collapse of the city archive and the struggle to preserve the Hambacher Forest. A spectacular, labyrinthine course made of wooden panels, into which the motifs are cut, fills the entire gallery space. These images appear iconographic or like tableau vivants. Their materiality and density make it difficult for the viewer to distance oneself from these subjects.

The birch wood panels, that Kilpper uses, are recycled material from his floor work Traces of War for the exhibition MISSING. The Tower of the Blue Horses, which took place in spring 2017 in Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne and which thematized the lost painting by Franz Marc, that was once defamed as “degenerated”. Kilpper drove a modern 60-ton Leopard II tank of the Bundeswehr over the wood, so that its chain pattern got imprinted in it, which is contrasted with war-glorifying quotes from Marc’s field letters. For Köln Fragmente Kilpper simply flipped these panels over and reworked them. Their back side is made consciously visible in some parts of the exhibition.

Uprooted @ Körnerpark Gallery Berlin

28 April to 4 July 2018

Text: Uprooted
Social cohesion and solidarity seem to have become more fragile today than ever before. Societies around the world are confronted with nationalist tendencies. The public perception of flight and immigration usually focuses on the challenges facing society. The artist Thomas Kilpper opposes this with a different perspective: What does the loss of homeland mean for fugitives? Is the social uprooting, which means flight, countered by the people in the places of arrival, or is it even intensified? Can uprooting also open up new opportunities? The exhibition begins with Thomas Kilpper’s new series “Burn-out” with charcoal drawings of burning refugee shelters. At the heart of the exhibition is an uprooted tree using parts of the old maple tree that fell in a storm in summer 2017 in front of the gallery in Körnerpark. In this expansive installation, the artist integrates new woodcuts, portraits of people who were exposed to racist violence or who resisted it. In addition to clearly right-wing extremist attacks and assaults, he directs special attention to cases in which racism is suspected to be a motif of crime, as in the murders of Burak Bektaş and Luke Holland in Neukölln. Thomas Kilpper sees his installation as a critique of violence, but also as an impulse for an open and solidary coexistence. Curated by Dorothee Bienert
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Atlantic Footprints @ Haugesund Museum of Contemporary Art

Text: Atlantic Footprints

featuring: Elise Allé, Emma Brown, Nicolai Diesen, Anna Kristin Ferking Paul Fox, Anthony Morton and Yi Yang from the University of Bergen,faculty of Art, Music and Design.

Kilpper developed this project in collaboration with a small group of art-students in Bergen. The results is be displayed in Grafikksalen and Kraftsalen.The main part of the artwork – the woodcut in the parquet floor-will be a permanent installation in the Grafikksalen in Haugesund Museum of FineArt.


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A lighthouse for Lampedusa! @ Karlskirche Kassel

May 25 – September 23, 2017

Since 2007 I have been working artistically on the topic of flight & migration to Europe. I was invited to a solo exhibition in Italy in 2007, which was realized in Reggio Emilia in 2008. For this exhibition I developed my project Ein Leuchtturm für Lampedusa! (A Lighthouse for Lampedusa!), which has been realized several times as a ‘model sketch’ but not yet completely: I intend to erect a lighthouse on the southernmost Italian island, which on the one hand will be able to give orientation visible from afar – where the saving land is – and which on its ground floor will house a cultural center for the people living on Lampedusa. A place of exchange and mutual learning is to be created here, which at the same time sends out a symbolic ‘welcome sign’: The project calls for a fundamental change towards a humanitarian approach in European refugee policy. The realisation would be an exemplary signal: Lampedusa is not hiding and tries to tackle the challenges of migration self-confidently.
For the exhibition Luther and the Avant-garde in the Karlskirche Kassel, I transform the church tower into a lighthouse. To do this, I clad the tower with material from refugee boats that stranded in Sicily. I weave former rubber dinghies cut into strips into galvanised construction steel mats. Additionally the short texts “Melilla, Lampedusa, Lesbos is here” and “legal escape routes to Europe” are printed on comparable material and woven in the same way. The lamp of the lighthouse consists of an approx. 60-75 cm high shining and blinking frieze on the whole width of the four sides of the tower. The lamp is so bright that its glow is also visible during the day. I very much hope that we will succeed in erecting a lighthouse ‘for us’ and would be delighted to contribute to a lively discussion on central questions of our social constitution – such as flight, human rights or international solidarity.

Thomas Kilpper
December 2016

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A Lighthouse for Lampedusa! at Bozar, Bruxelles

July 17 – September 4, 2016

Project description
A Lighthouse for Lampedusa!

Thomas Kilpper

Since 2008 Berlin based artist Thomas Kilpper is developing the project A Lighthouse for Lampedusa!.

The idea is to build a real lighthouse on Italy´s most southern island Lampedusa. It shall give orientation for African boat-people and refugees on the sea and be simultaneously a symbolic and widely visible “welcome” sign. The ground floor of the lighthouse-building shall be a cultural center for the people of Lampedusa. A place for exchange and mutual learning. A Lighthouse for Lampedusa! is an ongoing project and we see here just a model. It still is the aim to set it up in full-size in Lampedusa itself. So far it has been shown in exhibitions across Europe (including Naples, Florence, Reggio Emilia, Rotterdam, Poznan, Berlin, Venice, Lucerne, Zurich and Mechelen). The current refugee crisis in Europe is a humanitarian disaster. Nationalism is at the rise. Europe has an Iron Curtain back again – while hundreds drown in the Mediterranean. A Lighthouse for Lampedusa! calls for international solidarity and a fundamental change in European politics: to implement human rights and the freedom of movement for all, now!

This installation displays mainly images from Lampedusa by Thomas Kilpper

African friends and Turin-based artist Massimo Ricciardo took the black & white shots in a collective session. The African friends were seeking asylum in Lampedusa in 2014.

This project was made possible with help of Studio DAZ Architects, Naples, Giuseppe Nicotra & staff of SIENICO s.r.l., construction enterprise, Catania, Massimo Ricciardo, Turin, Anton Matzke, Anet Jünger and Ludwig Menzel, Berlin, Goethe Institute Bruxelles and Kunsthaus Dresden

Exhibition from 17th of July – 4th of September 2016

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don’t think about the crisis – fight! @ Vila Flores, Porto Alegre

Text: don’t think about the crisis – fight!
The German artist Thomas Kilpper was in Porto Alegre for 3 weeks doing an artist residency in Vila Flores, invited in collaboration by the Goethe-Institut. In the project, the artist created an unpublished work using and printing directly on the wooden floor of one of the spaces of the architectural complex, built in the 1920th.

The public intervention / procession / exhibition is a errorista experiment within the cohesion of the artistic research collective SYNSMASKINEN. The project results from a collaborative research on the global political context, specifically on the Brazilian context, and Porto Alegre as an example of a space for „specific fight“. The focus is established in the context from May 2016, after the start of the impeachment process. Composed of graphic pieces and literary and dramatic features, the project emerged from discussions on the World Social Forum as a utopian model of political representation and continuity / discontinuity of this model today. The initial Forum´s slogan – „Another world is possible“ – is here transformed into ambiguous title of the project, which clamps arguments on both sides of the current „state of emergency“ for which Brazil seems to be heading. ANOTHER ERROR UNABLE manifests as a procession through the center of Porto Alegre and as a display of a day at Villa Flores.

ERRORISM: practice or philosophy that has the error as the basis for their actions.
Erroristas: crowds, groups or individuals who practice Errorism. The Errorista International Movement was founded in 2005.
SYNSMASKINEN is an artistic-conglomerate and artistic research on contemporary political crises. SYNSMASKINEN is headquartered in Bergen, Norway.

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Flucht & Migration – at Galerie für Landschaftskunst / GFLK Halle Süd, Tölz

April 24 – May 14, 2016

Flucht & Migration: different perspectives
Gallery for Landscape Art / GFLK Halle Süd, Tölz

HALL – POLITICS – Picture 4:

Escape & Migration – different perspectives
An art project by Thomas Kilpper

with participation of Maria Demmel, Happiness Enobakhare, Holger Wüst, Massimo Ricciardo, Mohammad Saif, Tracy Michael, Taru Kallio, Hussein Salama, Ziad Shahet, Joy, Patience, Hashemi Ajmal, Rezhan Abdalrahman, Zhyar Mahmood, Rena Nashe, Shachalid, Mohammad Arabsada, Tiqist, Anastasia Jegorova, Naim, Majd-Alkhatib Abou Fakher, and Abdulelah Daghstan.

Exhibition opening: Saturday, 23 April, 17 – 19 hrs.
Exhibition period: 24 April to 14 May 2016
GFLK Hall South, Tölz
Wandelhalle, Ludwigstraße 14, Bad Tölz

The Tölzer Wandelhalle – a large modern building is challenged. A test row in 4 pictures, conceived by Florian Hüttner and Till Krause.

Picture 1: The hall and the swastika flag – with Katharina Sieverding
Picture 2: The Hall and the New World (American Occupation) – with Mark Dion
Picture 3: The hall and the cure – with Malte Struck and Mark Wehrmann
Picture 4: The hall and the asylum (the future) – with Thomas Kilpper
HALLE – POLITIK is sponsored by: Culture fund Bavaria, district Bad Tölz – Wolfratshausen, Jodquellen AG / Anton Hoefter

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Exhibition Flyer

There is no apocalypse – only catastrophies! Contemporary Footprints

6 November 2015 – 24 January 2016

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Impressions. Five Centuries of  Woodcuts
Universitetsgata 13
NO – 0164 Oslo

My gratitudes go to my artistic assistants: Cao Yanyi, Tobias Prytz,
Tova Fransson, Olav Mathisen, Victor Guzman and Jan Hamstra
Thomas Kilpper i utstillingen «Avtrykk. Tresnitt fra fem århundrer»

WOLFSTÆDTER: Thomas Kilpper – Günter Sare

December 7, 2013 – February 16, 2014

Exhibition opening: December 6, 2013 7pm
Duration of exhibition: December 7, 2013 – February 16, 2014
Opening hours: Wed – Fri 2 – 6 pm, Sat 1 – 4 pm

The work GÜNTER SARE refers to a violent police operation in Frankfurt in 1985 against an anti-fascist demonstration. During the police operation Günter Sare was hit by a water cannon and fatally injured. The demonstration was directed against an event of the NPD in the Bürgerhaus Gallus in the year before the so-called Auschwitz trial took place. The worn out tires of a water cannon of the Frankfurt police were now used as a printing block…

Rotlintstrasse 98
60389 Frankfurt  
Tel: ++49 163 6329817


June 20 – August 25, 2013

Inauguration: 19. June 19, 2013, 6pm

Duration of Installation:
June 20 – August 25, 2013

MEGAfon is a reference to the place and its eventful history of political demonstrations from the Weimar Republic to the time of the fall of the Wall. In this tradition, the sculpture may and should be used by everyone in the sense of a Speakers’ Corner.

To speak clearly and loudly through the MEGAfon requires courage, determination and physical effort, as the sculpture does not require an electronic amplifier. Its resonance body has little amplifying effect, but the voice is slightly alienating.

MEGAfon raises the question of who has their say in our society, who makes themselves heard. In the hundredth year since the Volksbühne was established, it has been a stage and platform for the people, for those who want to express themselves publicly, for self-styled performers as well as for the public.
for politically active people.

with the support of
Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V
Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn
Bezirkskulturfonds des Bezirksamts Berlin Mitte

MEGA fon Performances
As part of Thomas Kilpper’s MEGAfon project, we would like to cordially invite you to the first three performances at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Please note the different starting times.

Sunday, August 11, 1pm
Artur van Balen: “The Internationale” goes international.
By singing the “Internationale” in different languages, Artur van Balen refers to an important aspect of the history of Rosa Luxemburg Square and the labour movement.

Tuesday, August 13, 9 pm
Katja von Helldorff: cosas raras – para Rosa Luxembourg
In the series “cosas raras” (“weird stuff”) this #3: a 15 minute poetic speech on bricks, time and love, is dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg.

Thursday, August 15, 8.30 pm
Kerstin Cmelka featuring Daniel Laufer: Nora
Microdrama by Kerstin Cmelka featuring Daniel Laufer. Text: Henrik Ibsen, “Nora. Ein Puppenheim”, 3rd act, last scene.
“Nora. Ein Puppenheim” was written in 1879 and premiered in Copenhagen, 1880 in the first German versions in Hamburg and
Munich and in 1890 was included in the programme of the opening year of the “Freie Volksbühne Berlin”.

Saturday, August 17, 4-8 pm,
10-minute reading rehearsals.
Achim Lengerer: Rehearsals for Peter Weiss
19 January 1970, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf: After tumultuous scenes the public dress rehearsal of the play “Trotsky in Exile” by Peter Weiss has to be stopped after the first act. Two dozen demonstrators storm onto the stage and make a racket. The ensemble, spontaneously formed from all ranks of the audience, introduces the performance “Trotsky in Exile” with a dance.
Stephan Geene: solemn renunciation of megafonal. forever or at least now
10:00 p.m. Stephan Geene interprets the megaphone.

Sunday, August 18, 3.30 pm
Christel Gbaguidi:La Republique en Fuite/The Refugee Republic
“The Refugee Republic” is a process-oriented and pedagogical cooperation with so-called “immigrants and refugees”.
As part of the implementation of the northern phase of the project: “MIGRATION AND ICH Part 3: Over the Bridges of the Arts to a Common Homeland Earth”, some residents of the protest camp at Oranienplatz, Berlin, took the opportunity in workshops from March to June 2013 to speak for themselves and tell their own stories, anecdotes, statements about their emigration or flight, their paths to Germany, their experiences as refugees, living together with the other people with whom they share the same refugee life and space.”The Refugee Republic” invites the people of this globalised world to reflect on the concepts of “identity” and “illegality” and at the same time opens up a space of exchange between players and spectators on the subject of migration.

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