all posts title image
Mischa Kuball, “Platon’s mirror”, 2011, Video projection, autopole system, mirror foils, Photo by Kruszewski

Wolfsburg and Utopias

September 6th 2021

Mischa Kuball, “broca RE:Mix”, 2007, 6 rotating slide projectors with each 81 slides, 10 metal sculptures, Photo by Kruszewski


The summer has been and gone; time has a different quality right now. I can’t explain it other than to say I am ramping up my activities but nothing feels as it once did. Is this a post-pandemic new reality? There is a fluidity of shock and disturbance. Borders open and close again; countries seem stable and then aren’t. Lawmakers feel they can re-legislate agreed upon law that suddenly is seized and reversed. Democracies appear more fragile than ever. Which is something under the skin of the work by Mischa Kuball.

Mischa Kuball, “five suns / after Galileo”, 2018, profiler, slide, 5 plexiglass panels, motors, Momika Schnetkamp Collection.

His exhibition in Wolfsburg is a must see for anyone spending time in or around Berlin. It is one hour by train. It finishes soon, on 19th of September, before its next venue at the Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (5.12.2021-24-4-2022).

Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum’s tall spaces have never looked so good and the work as well is an experience beyond language. Which is its point. There are feelings we have in a context of light and moving parts that is beyond our cerebral cortex. Something else is at play. A public sense when you are in a room and things are flashing and whirling with other people walking or standing still.

Mischa Kuball, “making after Mnemosyne (after Aby Warburg)”, 2021, 2-channel video installation, projection, 16:9, color, ed. 1/3, Photo by Kruszewski

“ReferenzRäume” in Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg has a feeling of retrospective as it shows for the first time works from three decades, including large scale installations photographs, video projections, documentations all of which reference the artist’s abiding interest in the public realm of art. How it functions inside the body politic, on our streets, in buildings and public squares. Inside a museum it feels aesthetic in a way I hadn’t expected. This mix of associative language and use of color and light, projections and fragmentation have a strong sense of performance; it is almost theatrical to stand in a room where things are bright and circulating against the walls like a disco from the 1970’s. But it is not a rave, it is also specifically on the four surfaces walls, ceiling and floor. Like being caught floating through the solar system and stars are appearing everywhere around.

Mischa Kuball, “five planets”, 2015, 5 mirror balls each, rotary motors, gobo spotlights, Photo by Kruszewski
Mischa Kuball, “five planets”, 2015, 5 mirror balls each, rotary motors, gobo spotlights, Photo by Kruszewski


There is a methodology that holds all of Mischa Kuball’s works in the same frame and it is one that sees an artist’s role as being a citizen of sorts. We are reminded of the locations that become animated by art making, or art thinking. Activation comes in many forms, texts, dialogues, conversation, documentation. Kuball’s activist nature sees art as a vehicle for change and enlightenment. It is not unusual therefore that his view of art falls into the category of Utopian, to see the world as repairable, as a place where healing can take place. He uses it as a wedge against dark forces.

With this as a prelude he is included in an ambitious project that will be up and running until January 2, 2022 in Berlin. Utopie Kulturforum is a very large sprawling collection of initiatives. Mischa Kuball’s exhibition “(UN)FINISHED” in St. Matthäus Church opens on 19 September at 6 pm with a pulpit speech by Prof. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.

In a short overview of the larger initiative the text begins “The Berlin Kulturforum has been shaped by Utopias”. What has emerged is a place at which their effectiveness and ambivalence can be experienced in both their success and their failure. In the project “Utopie Kulturforum, the neighbours collaborated to make the potential of the Kulturforum visible in decentral exhibitions, common talks and artistic activities.” Non-place; place of longing; place of the future.

The Art Newspaper from Berlin presents Mischa Kuball’s project as follows:

“At the end of Berlin Art Week, the Düsseldorf artist Mischa Kuball sets a sign in the context of the cross-cultural forum project “Utopia Kulturforum” in the St. Matthäus Church in Berlin: While there is talk of the structural “completion” of the Kulturforum in view of the construction of the “Museum of the 20th Century” right next to the church, Mischa Kuball is promoting the creative potential of “unfinishedness”. The opening of (un)finished takes place on the last day of Berlin Art Week.

The Berlin Kulturforum is a place of longing. Long reviled as an urban planning “non-place”, it also encompasses one of Berlin’s most promising cultural constellations, which is currently developing new dynamics with the construction of the “Museum of the 20th Century”. In the middle of it all is St. Matthew’s Church, the oldest building on the site, which towers into the sky like a reminder of the complex development of the area.

The “non-place” has always inspired projections: What could a successful interplay between the neighbouring institutions look like? How could the relationship between art, religion and society be understood and redeveloped in this place? The non-place, Greek “ou-topos”, opens the space for projections. As part of the cross-cultural forum project “Utopia Kulturforum”, Mischa Kuball opens up the church space of St. Matthew’s Church – and the view of the Kulturforum. While there is talk of the structural “completion” of the Kulturforum with a view to the construction of the “Museum of the 20th Century” right next to the church, Mischa Kuball promotes “incompletion” in the sense of the driving forces of art and religion. Both live from an open horizon beyond the visible shape of our present.

Mischa Kuball on this: “‘Utopianism necessarily ends in disappointment’, said the cultural theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965), who was introduced to the parish ministry at St. Matthew. (UN)FINISHED invokes this possibility as likely. Above the entrance portal of St. Matthew’s, the luminous signé becomes a cautionary mantra to distrust built ‘final solutions’ especially in a place like the Kulturforum!”

At the opening on 19 September at 6 pm in the context of a church service, the designated director of the Berlin House of World Cultures Prof. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung will speak about the idea of neighbourliness and unconditional hospitality: “Who is my neighbour? And why? And for how long?” Afterwards, from around 7pm, a discursive performance with Kuball, Bejeng Ndikung and other participants will take place outside the church: A truck equipped with a monumental light installation will serve as an open stage for exchange and interaction with participants, neighbours and all interested parties.”

DEEDS.NEWS, The Art Newspaper from Berlin, Monday, September 13, 2021, Mischa Kuball: (un)finished. Intervention in the St. Matthäus Church at the Berlin Kulturforum – 20.09.2021 to 02.01.2022.

Berlin Utopie Kulturforum’s map


Sunday, 19.09.2021, 6:00 pm
St. Matthäus Church: Opening in the context of a hORA service: Pulpit address: Prof. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, curator and art critic; Liturgy: Rev. Hannes Langbein; Music: Nathan Plante, trumpet, Lothar Knappe, organ.

Thursday, 11.11.2021, 7:00 pm
St. Matthäus Church: More than this. Dys(u)topical Thinking in the Arts, City Talk with Helgard Haug, Rimini Protokoll, Friedrich von Borries, Architect, Mischa Kuball, Artist, Moderation: Ann-Katrin Günzel, KUNSTFORUM International.

More info:

Mischa Kuball

Kunstmuseum Wolsfburg

Utopie Kulturforum Berlin

DEEDS.NEWS, The Art Newspaper from Berlin