Aptly named ‘UPHEAVAL’, the exhibition opens a new chapter in the history of the Kunsthalle Mannheim. “Coming as a new director, it was important to me that the direction the Kunsthalle would take would be more diverse and global, stemming from different biographical perspectives,” he explains. “Diversifying the voices that speak within such an institution entails looking in different directions; and, therefore, to tell different stories,” Holten adds. His goal was to connect the power of art to the power of the people, through a curatorial change that would reflect the turmoil outside of the Kunsthalle and the community’s concerns, while establishing a fuller understanding of art history. “This is why the exhibition includes such a vast array of artists coming from different cultural and artistic backgrounds,” he points out.
The space of the Kunsthalle Mannheim is emblematic of Holten’s revision. “It is about a new way of engaging with space,” he tells us. The change is visually supported by new exhibition architecture: scaffolding traversing the three focal sections of the show forms walls, platforms, and ramps. “They are not defining spaces but open structures where you can create exhibition architecture within. Each stands up at an angle and is an expression of the unfinished, something that is still becoming,” explains Holten. The scaffolding acts as a framework for the different works of art, a connector that unifies them conceptually. The clash of mediums—painting, video, and sculpture—displayed was a conscious choice: “my intention was to show that you may use different formats to express a direction. If you aim for diversity, you’ll find it across different eras, realities, and types of works,” Holten shares.