Internationally renowned Städelschule art academy celebrated the 2016 graduates at the MMK3 of Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt with an exhibition. Under the theme “Croissant,” 26 students, from all over the world, presented their final projects. Naming the exhibition after the famous french pastry was a student’s idea.
The crunchy and yet hip sounding word was used until it was formally adopted as the title. Because croissant means evolving, this term perfectly describes the state of the students – and also Anders Dickson. Before studying at the Städelschule and the Staatliche Akademie der Künste Karlsruhe, Anders Dickson studied philosophy in the States, his country of origin. His final project, “From Dusk to Dawn” and “Prison Tennis (Means of Escape)”, pursues the question of imprisonment and institutionalization.
At the venue of MMK Zollamt, Dickson explains, in front of his work, how he spent his time at school. He not only worked in the atelier he was provided, but he was also at home in it, sleeping there and even working in the building as the housekeeper. “I never got out of school,” Dickson said, comparing it to prison. Even as a chosen one, he views his time as an imprisonment itself, since he has been bound to school.
The process began when he started dealing with the theme and ended up investigating it. He found letters of arrested people written to priests and rabbis describing the daily life as well as their own guilt. In the archives, Dickson received letters under the name of Karl Anderson, a name which he describes as an alias, as he was mistakenly addressed in correspondence not as an artist, but as a housekeeper.
Glowing about the accident, the work reveals how he relates to the situation. The installation contains a letter that represents the inner world of an arrested person. Dickson combined writing with further works to represent the living space as well. In a backlash of his own inner world and situation, his work is simultaneously real and a fictive narration while as he reflects in German.
After years in Germany, Dickson not only speaks German fluently, he also came in German flagged socks – a birthday present. He wore a cowboy tie called a Bolo and some casual, comfortable Reeboks. Another fellow student, who flamboyantly attracted the audience with his style, is Xerxes Oakman. His outfit corresponds with his work under the theme of pop culture. Xerxes Oakman‘s “It’s been emojinal” could be understood as a persiflage of today’s, and his own, society that reacts emotionally and is quite digital.
Coming from Sweden, Oakman studied in Gothenburg before attending Goldsmith University in London and lastly the Städelschule, quitting master class and taking painting lessons by artist Amy Sillman. Wearing a quite attractive banana shirt, he neither seems to take himself seriously nor the world he lives in. In his bright shirt in the midst of his cheerful friends, he posed in front of his work.
The visitors attracted attention as well. A young one was asked to choose a work to be photographed in front of. She posed in front of “the semicolon”, a work by Aislinn McNamara, which deals with language and semantics by the use of the material of the newspaper. The title “Thema des Tages”, Mittwoch, July 13”, which means “Topic of the day”, puts the mechanism of journalism and media in a nutshell. The work of McNamara is shown next to the work of her fellow students, revealing how the new generation of evolving artists deals with social and political issues of everyday life in their studies.
Several guests came in style. No surprise. When it comes to openings, art is easily of minor importance. People love to get dressed up for exhibitions. It’s the perfect place to show off, perform one’s own personal identity freely, and even become a piece of art yourself while dealing with the art of course. I asked different people to photograph their outfit, just as the legendary Bill Cunningham did. Not for nothing, he inspired an entire generation of bloggers as journalist Alfons Kaiser stated in his obituary for the German newspaper FAZ. Some rejected being photographed, some even ridiculed it.
But there are always people, who recognize the fact to get photographed, simply as for what it is: a compliment. It happened that one of the visitors reacted positively, accepting the compliment, but unfortunately denied it. He arrived all in black, wearing John Lennon sunglasses with a very New York vibe. The most stylish never are thrilled to be photographed. If a person is friendly and cool, and might just want to do you a favor, you will hear the person say: ‘Okay. Let’s do it’.
But it happens that people look pretty but are totally (camera-)shy. So were two girls, who attended the exhibition. Passing by the throng of people in front of the building, they hasted into the exhibition space. As shy as they were, they hesitated first but allowed me to take a picture inside in the middle of the venue. Incorporating elements of Health goth, Bohemia, and ongoing trends on Instagram, the girls had a very individual look.
Even as part of the youth culture, these girls seem to very much do their own thing. It’s obviously their attitude! You won’t see these kinds of girls, which come out of nowhere in that outfit, ever in Frankfurt, and you will only see these girls in Frankfurt. In the crowd, they are rare indeed in their outfit, yet very urban. A proof that the internationally not so known Frankfurt has stylish people to offer.
Does that matter? Yes, it does. We all love well-dressed people, especially at art exhibitions, because the art alone is never enough. Complaining or not; we do come for the people at the opening night as well. Until the next artsy party, exhibition or gallery opening. Till then: Go Girls! The exhibition “Croissant” runs until the 14th of August.
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