MONA's New Exhibition Is an Immersive Ode to the Radical Artists of Post-War Germany

'Zero' will bring together — and reconstruct — works from the art collective of the same name and exhibit it for the very first time.
Jasmine Crittenden
Published on March 23, 2018

If you're thinking of heading to Tassie for Dark Mofo this year, this could be the clincher. MONA has just announced its next big exhibition, Zero — a celebration of Germany's radical artists of the 1950s and 60s.

The show gets its name from the term the artists used, collectively, to describe themselves. They didn't identify as belonging to a movement, style or group, but instead felt connected by a "vision of the things", as explained by Otto Piene, one of the founders.

"Zero's philosophical foundation was that art was not something to be painfully extracted in solitude, but assembled and constructed with others, using whatever materials came best to hand: metal, cardboard, glass, plastic, cloth, mirrors and smoke," says MONA's Senior Research Curator Jane Clark. "They banged nails, smashed bottles, poked holes and cut up each other's canvases."

The show will feature artworks by original Zero artists, as well as those that have since absorbed their influence. These include Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker and Adolf Luther from Germany; Lucio Fontana, Nanda Vigo, Grazia Varisco, Enrico Castellani and Gianni Colombo from Italy; with Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein and François Morellet from France; Henk Peeters from The Netherlands; Christian Megert from Switzerland; Jesús Soto from Venezuela; and Yayoi Kusama from Japan.

Given that these artworks were often ephemeral, many will be reconstructions. Expect sound effects, music, optical illusions, moving parts, shifting lights and reflective materials. There'll be a particular focus on vibration, which Mack described in 1958 as "resting restlessness…the expression of continuous movement, which we call 'vibration'…Its harmony stirs our souls, as the life and breath of the work."

Taking care of curation is Mattijs Visser, founding director of the international Zero Foundation. "Zero is one of the most significant, yet largely forgotten, art movements since the Second World War...Zero needs to be discovered now, while several of their speakers are still with us," he says.

Zero will open with a big party on Saturday, June 9 — and it's free for the public to attend (with registration). If you're in town for Dark Mofo — which will run from June 15–24 — it might be a good reason to head to Hobart earlier. The full lineup will be announced on April 6 — we'll keep you updated on that one.

Zero will run at the Museum of Old and New Art in Berriedale, Hobart from June 9, 2017 until April 22, 2019. For more info, visit mona.

Image: Gianni Colombo: Elastic Space, shot by Matteo Zarbo, courtesy of the Institute for Contemporary Archaeology. 

Published on March 23, 2018 by Jasmine Crittenden
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