C. Schmidt-Bleek, Michael Stevenson


preview Friday, February 6, 2004, 7 - 9 pm
exhibition February 7 - March 27, 2004
opening hours Wed - Fri 1 - 7 pm, Sat 1 - 6 pm

Galerie Kamm is pleased to present Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek and Michael Stevenson in an exhibition together. Both artists mostly use historical or current events as the starting point for their artistic work while commenting on and networking these with the most diverse media. The theme of their exhibition „Keim“ (seed) is the complexity of the German-American relation- ship, which is defined as much by a fruitful exchange as by division. Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek and Michael Stevenson have chosen two small but exemplary stories for the bilateral relationship and have each developed their own project. At the same time the references of both narrative threads reflect the many shades of success and failure in the attempt to come to terms with the foreign.

Eschscholzia Californica
Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek investigates as a typical story of colonisation and exchange, the spread of the Californian poppy, which was discovered in 1816 by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso and brought to Germany. The attempt to under- stand newly discovered territories through collecting, pressing and investigating flora and fauna often leads to further stories, which, should one follow their journey would be one of multiplication and adaptation. Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek relates this to the current botanical investigations of the American military. In a similar way to the historical botanical collections, the
Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands keeps the military land and ground „under surveillance“ by producing for example botanical collections and traditional water-colours. This practice doesn’t only serve the inventory, but is also an attempt through the comparison with the vegetation at home to obtain new insights into the occupied land. With various
media, Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek links the present with the past. Her fabric-objects which refer to a military network and the Californian poppy are reduced to structure in their form as much as their colour. Next to a reproduction of a watercolour by the CEMML of a rhododendron from Germany there is a drawing of Adelbert von Chamisso’s route. Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek opens up a view onto a world which in the age of progress has a scarcely anticipated relevance.

The project by Michael Stevenson revolves around the recently kindled argument between the well-established German paint company, Keimfarben, and one of their customers - the American government. At the centre of the argument is the contract which authorized Keimfarben to paint the Pentagon. Because of the recently tense political relations between the two
countries this sizable contract was terminated (one of the largest single orders for a single type of paint) and replaced by one with the American company ChemMasters. Decisive for the outcome was an Ohio Congressman, who with his campaign against Keimfarben brought the theme to the attention of the nation. The whole debacle was fought out in the Ohio newspaper „The Plain Dealer“, though in a local and grotesque way by playing on the local pride of the readership. This example is exemplary for the way American democracy is entrenched in the regional. As a commentary or substitute, Michael Stevenson shows a drawing of a newspaper article in The Plain Dealer together with an illustration of a painting by Norman Rockwell whose main theme was American small-town life.
In addition the artist has ordered the “Schmutzgelbgraubraun” paint from both Keimfarben and ChemMaster otherwise
exclusively mixed for the Pentagon. In the exhibition the two paints can be seen as colour-charts on large paper rolls on two separate walls, and the viewer can tear off small samples, to make a picture of the shades of the discord for themselves. In a wider sense the project proposes a history of American painting that discloses a common political purpose for both regional- ism and abstraction.

Parallel to the exhibition a work by Michael Stevenson can be seen in the exhibition„Berlin North“ in the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.