Kolumba
Kolumbastraße 4
D-50667 Köln
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15 September 2021 to 15 August 2022
Into the Expanse – Aspects of Jewish Life in Germany
A historical-aesthetic approach

A cooperation of MiQua. LVR-Jüdisches Museum im Archäologischen Quartier Köln and Kolumba, Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Köln, in the context of the festival year "1700 years of Jewish life in Germany". Guest: Former Synagogue Niederzissen

History cannot be exhibited as such. History is a projection of the present that must inevitably remain fragmentary, because it is devoted to what is “past”. For us, history can be understood as a building that prompts the imagination, with a simplified architecture that helps you to find your way. History cannot be exhibited, but things and works of art (which are also things) can – and be used to tell stories. We are exhibiting objects that give a multi-facetted account of Jewish life in the past and present, a selection of international loans that will sometimes be switched around during the course of the year. We devote our attention to artistically excellent artefacts, but also to seemingly banal everyday objects from different times and fashioned in various media. These stand in for the narrative aspect of history, for that which can be related. In this sense, the objects are worthy documents and testimonies to history, whatever their respective art historical value. They serve to open doors, enabling us to gain insights into realms that give us some idea of the festivals, customs and rituals and the individual day-to-day worlds of societies shaped by Judaism. The objects are often the legacy of people whose biographies we impart and would like to recall to mind.The exhibition of these objects does not aim to be comprehensive. We do not claim to be staging a new edition of the legendary show Monumenta Judaica (Cologne 1963), nor do we have any intention of competing with the presentations of Jewish museums. Rather, we hope to make accessible selected aspects of the past and present of manifold Jewish life in Germany. The loans from private collections, museums and libraries are intended to avoid a one-sided approach and clichés and to deal with themes from a Jewish perspective that are relevant to all, e.g. the everyday and religion, annual and life cycles, inclusion and exclusion, persecution and migration, remembrance, mourning and joy. The choice of objects includes internationally recognised Jewish milestones, such as the so-called Mishneh Torah Kaufmann from Budapest and the Amsterdam Machzor (Room 8)
alongside everyday objects, such as the archaeological finds from the excavation at the Cologne Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). We are especially pleased to be able to start our annual exhibition with a presentation of that very document that marks the jubilee year 1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany. The decree of Emperor Constantine the Great dating from 321 A.D. is on loan from the Vatican library. It is the oldest preserved transcript from the 6th century and has been brought specially to Cologne, where it will remain for a few weeks. The extensively preserved Genizah of the former synagogue in Niederzissen, the third cooperation partner in the project, can be seen for a whole year in a room of its own (Room 9). This is one of the most impressive finds relating to Jewish culture in Germany, which first came to light in 2011. This storage area with its everyday and religiously motivated fragments has been transferred to Kolumba, where it will become a place of reflection on the life and culture of a Jewish rural community. Yet, in a historical exhibition, how should one treat all the rest, that which has actually disappeared irretrievably and can no longer be found or cannot be depicted? Would it not be worth at least trying to find some counterparts and to take the lost totality of history into account in a quite different manner? The themes addressed will be enhanced with existential and emotional experience furnished by artworks from the Kolumba Collection. For in contrast to items bound up with a specific function, we can use works of “free art” to speak about that part of history that cannot be reported as a fact; including the indefinable, the firmly believed and what can only be dreamt about, the vague apparition and the inconceivable. With our selection of abstract pictures we aim to offer a space for contemplation that can only be apprehended aesthetically, taking us towards the horizon.Many of the paintings on show relate to an art movement that was postulated by artists with mainly Jewish roots in the mid-1920s, who thus dissociated themselves decisively from the pictorial concepts shaped by Christianity in European art history. A painting dating from 1972 by Frederic Thursz dedicated to one of the protagonists of Abstract Expressionism, Mark Rothko, ushers in the exhibition (Room 5). Other works – such as those by Rebecca Horn or Jannis Kounellis –
make use of everyday objects to create images of speechlessness and loss of location, in an attempt to face the unbearable nature of the Shoah (the genocide of European Jews) (Rooms 16 and 19). The erection of Richard Serra’s sculpture The Drowned and the Savedin 1997 (Room 4), which was originally made for the village synagogue of Stommeln, was effectively the symbolic cornerstone ceremony of Kolumba. The title Into the Expanse entails an ambivalence that is essential to grasping the theme. Not only the forced wanderings are referred to here, but also our attempt to avoid a one-dimensional understanding of the exhibited objects and their implied narrative. The everyday utensils and cultural objects in particular demonstrate that we are speaking about the common history of Jews and non-Jews – stereo-typical images and clichés in no way do justice to this shared history. Jewish life reflects the whole diversity of life itself, and so we can always only address particular aspects. Above all, we strongly challenge any narrow interpretation that might lead to intolerance, hostility and anti-Semitism.
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1992 Vaticana
 
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KOLUMBA :: Exhibitions :: 2021 Into the Expanse

15 September 2021 to 15 August 2022
Into the Expanse – Aspects of Jewish Life in Germany
A historical-aesthetic approach

A cooperation of MiQua. LVR-Jüdisches Museum im Archäologischen Quartier Köln and Kolumba, Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Köln, in the context of the festival year "1700 years of Jewish life in Germany". Guest: Former Synagogue Niederzissen

History cannot be exhibited as such. History is a projection of the present that must inevitably remain fragmentary, because it is devoted to what is “past”. For us, history can be understood as a building that prompts the imagination, with a simplified architecture that helps you to find your way. History cannot be exhibited, but things and works of art (which are also things) can – and be used to tell stories. We are exhibiting objects that give a multi-facetted account of Jewish life in the past and present, a selection of international loans that will sometimes be switched around during the course of the year. We devote our attention to artistically excellent artefacts, but also to seemingly banal everyday objects from different times and fashioned in various media. These stand in for the narrative aspect of history, for that which can be related. In this sense, the objects are worthy documents and testimonies to history, whatever their respective art historical value. They serve to open doors, enabling us to gain insights into realms that give us some idea of the festivals, customs and rituals and the individual day-to-day worlds of societies shaped by Judaism. The objects are often the legacy of people whose biographies we impart and would like to recall to mind.The exhibition of these objects does not aim to be comprehensive. We do not claim to be staging a new edition of the legendary show Monumenta Judaica (Cologne 1963), nor do we have any intention of competing with the presentations of Jewish museums. Rather, we hope to make accessible selected aspects of the past and present of manifold Jewish life in Germany. The loans from private collections, museums and libraries are intended to avoid a one-sided approach and clichés and to deal with themes from a Jewish perspective that are relevant to all, e.g. the everyday and religion, annual and life cycles, inclusion and exclusion, persecution and migration, remembrance, mourning and joy. The choice of objects includes internationally recognised Jewish milestones, such as the so-called Mishneh Torah Kaufmann from Budapest and the Amsterdam Machzor (Room 8)
alongside everyday objects, such as the archaeological finds from the excavation at the Cologne Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). We are especially pleased to be able to start our annual exhibition with a presentation of that very document that marks the jubilee year 1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany. The decree of Emperor Constantine the Great dating from 321 A.D. is on loan from the Vatican library. It is the oldest preserved transcript from the 6th century and has been brought specially to Cologne, where it will remain for a few weeks. The extensively preserved Genizah of the former synagogue in Niederzissen, the third cooperation partner in the project, can be seen for a whole year in a room of its own (Room 9). This is one of the most impressive finds relating to Jewish culture in Germany, which first came to light in 2011. This storage area with its everyday and religiously motivated fragments has been transferred to Kolumba, where it will become a place of reflection on the life and culture of a Jewish rural community. Yet, in a historical exhibition, how should one treat all the rest, that which has actually disappeared irretrievably and can no longer be found or cannot be depicted? Would it not be worth at least trying to find some counterparts and to take the lost totality of history into account in a quite different manner? The themes addressed will be enhanced with existential and emotional experience furnished by artworks from the Kolumba Collection. For in contrast to items bound up with a specific function, we can use works of “free art” to speak about that part of history that cannot be reported as a fact; including the indefinable, the firmly believed and what can only be dreamt about, the vague apparition and the inconceivable. With our selection of abstract pictures we aim to offer a space for contemplation that can only be apprehended aesthetically, taking us towards the horizon.Many of the paintings on show relate to an art movement that was postulated by artists with mainly Jewish roots in the mid-1920s, who thus dissociated themselves decisively from the pictorial concepts shaped by Christianity in European art history. A painting dating from 1972 by Frederic Thursz dedicated to one of the protagonists of Abstract Expressionism, Mark Rothko, ushers in the exhibition (Room 5). Other works – such as those by Rebecca Horn or Jannis Kounellis –
make use of everyday objects to create images of speechlessness and loss of location, in an attempt to face the unbearable nature of the Shoah (the genocide of European Jews) (Rooms 16 and 19). The erection of Richard Serra’s sculpture The Drowned and the Savedin 1997 (Room 4), which was originally made for the village synagogue of Stommeln, was effectively the symbolic cornerstone ceremony of Kolumba. The title Into the Expanse entails an ambivalence that is essential to grasping the theme. Not only the forced wanderings are referred to here, but also our attempt to avoid a one-dimensional understanding of the exhibited objects and their implied narrative. The everyday utensils and cultural objects in particular demonstrate that we are speaking about the common history of Jews and non-Jews – stereo-typical images and clichés in no way do justice to this shared history. Jewish life reflects the whole diversity of life itself, and so we can always only address particular aspects. Above all, we strongly challenge any narrow interpretation that might lead to intolerance, hostility and anti-Semitism.