The ex­hi­bi­tion Tran­s­cor­po­re­al­i­ties re­flects on the mu­se­um as a perme­able body in which vari­ous bi­o­log­i­cal, so­cial, tech­no­log­i­cal, po­lit­i­cal, and eco­nom­ic sys­tems flow in­to each other. Like all hu­man and non­hu­man en­ti­ties, it en­gages in per­pe­t­u­al metabolic pro­cess­es with its en­vi­ron­ment.

Against this back­drop, the ex­hi­bi­tion ac­ti­vates an area in the mu­se­um that is free­ly ac­ces­si­ble and opens to­ward the ur­ban space with its trans­par­ent façades and glass doors on two sides: the foy­er. As a tran­si­tio­n­al space it forms a kind of mem­brane—on the one hand to pro­tect the sen­si­tive in­n­er life of the in­sti­tu­tion from ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences, and on the other hand to open its pores to the en­vi­ron­ment and thus al­low it to breathe. The art­works act di­rect­ly on the space, cre­ate new mi­cro-ar­chi­tec­tures, in­cor­po­rate the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, or trace paths that run through the col­lec­tion and fur­ther medi­ums the mu­se­um em­ploys to reach its au­di­ence. The works are im­mer­sive, pro­ces­su­al, or per­for­ma­tive. Some de­lib­er­ate­ly re­sist ma­te­rial tan­gi­bil­i­ty.

With his large-scale in­s­tal­la­tion of bleach­ers invit­ing the vis­i­tors to take a seat be­tween life-size fig­ures, Os­car Muril­lo cre­ates an ago­ra si­t­u­a­tion around a stage on which a wide-rang­ing pro­gram of events will take place dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion. A sim­i­lar per­for­ma­tive po­ten­tial­i­ty is suggest­ed by Paul Ma­heke’s in­ter­ven­tions: with his new body of work he de­lib­er­ate­ly draws at­ten­tion to the thresh­olds be­tween in­te­ri­or and ex­te­ri­or and calls in OOLOI—a fan­tas­ti­cal alien be­ing of a third gen­der. Fla­ka Hal­i­ti al­so ex­amines the per­spec­tives on non­hu­man cor­po­re­al­i­ties and fo­cus­es on ob­s­cure deep-sea crea­tures that ex­ist be­yond hu­man reach and thus pro­voke spec­u­la­tions. While Jesse Dar­ling’s in­s­tal­la­tion with ref­er­ences to the le­g­end of the Cologne pa­tron Saint Ur­su­la oc­cu­pies some of the lock­ers in the foy­er, Son­dra Per­ry’s back­hoe in­s­tal­la­tion up­ends West­ern hu­man ex­cep­tio­n­al­ism. Tech­nolo­gies of rep­re­sen­ta­tion are al­so shown to be porous when Per­ry us­es them to re­veal in­her­ent dis­crim­i­na­to­ry con­struc­tions of iden­ti­ty. Park McArthur un­der­s­tands the body as a re­la­tio­n­al struc­ture rather than a self-con­tained unit. The ma­te­rial­i­ty of her two sculp­tu­ral works in the foy­er—­made of sound-, fric­tion-, and shock-ab­sorb­ing foam and rub­ber—­point to the in­ter­de­pen­den­cies be­tween bodies and their en­vi­ron­ment. With her artis­tic con­tri­bu­tion to the ca­t­a­logue she push­es the boun­daries of the ex­hi­bi­tion walls even fur­ther.

Tra­jal Har­rell and Nick Mauss in­ter­vene in the col­lec­tion and ex­plore cross-me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tions of cor­po­re­al­i­ty and per­for­ma­tiv­i­ty in mul­ti­ple ways. In re­sponse to be­ing hon­ored as “Dancer of the Year” in 2018 by the Ger­man mag­azine tanz, Har­rell ex­amines his self(worth) in an epony­mous dance so­lo and an in­s­tal­la­tion. His Dancer of the Year Shop as­sem­bles per­so­n­al be­long­ings of in­es­timable val­ue, such as heir­looms from his fam­i­ly and friends as well as relics of his ca­reer, which he will put up for sale on cer­tain days of the ex­hi­bi­tion. Nick Mauss, on the other hand, draws out re­s­o­nances be­tween dis­parate works from the mu­se­um’s col­lec­tion, such as Jasper Johns’s 15 Min­utes En­tr’acte (1961) en­coun­ter­ing a paint­ing of lin­ger­ing per­form­ers by Erich Heck­el (1928). In Mauss’s con­fig­u­ra­tion, ti­tled Trea­tise on the Veil, th­ese works dia­logue with a pro­ject­ed pho­to archive by Carl Van Vecht­en and a new chore­og­ra­phy de­vel­oped with stu­dents from the Uni­ver­si­ty for Mu­sic and Dance Cologne.

The artists share a trans­dis­ci­pli­nary prac­tice that re­flects on in­sti­tu­tio­n­al sys­tems and their own role within th­ese. This in­cludes the de­lib­er­ate en­gage­ment with tran­s­cor­po­re­al pro­cess­es be­tween lived ex­pe­ri­ence and vi­su­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion, in­scrip­tions and at­tri­bu­tions, or mak­ing vis­i­ble and be­ing seen. Af­ter all, when it comes to the man­i­fold forms of em­bod­i­ment, re­sis­tance and vul­n­er­a­bil­i­ty are of­ten just as pre­cari­ous­ly close to­gether as auton­o­my and de­pen­dence, lib­er­al­iza­tion and in­stru­men­tal­iza­tion.

Mu­se­ums are so­cial places of ed­u­ca­tion that, in ac­cor­dance with their core task of col­lect­ing and pre­serv­ing, cre­ate mat­ter and mean­ing in the cul­tu­r­al me­m­o­ry. But to what ex­tent do they al­so func­tion as a kind of ago­ra, as a place of as­sem­b­ly? Tran­s­cor­po­re­al­i­ties doesn’t aim at de­mon­s­trat­ing the generos­i­ty and hos­pi­tal­i­ty of the mu­se­um, but rather at ne­go­ti­at­ing un­re­solved in­sti­tu­tio­n­al ques­tions about ac­ces­si­bil­i­ty as well as the pos­si­bil­i­ties and lim­its of rep­re­sent­ing bodies: Who do we mean when we say “we” and “they”?

Tran­s­cor­po­re­al­i­ties is the fifth ex­hi­bi­tion in the pro­ject se­ries HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig. For Yil­maz Dziewior, the di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, Tran­s­cor­po­re­al­i­ties ex­em­pli­fies the gen­er­al ap­proach of the in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary se­ries, which ques­tions the con­ven­tions of the in­sti­tu­tion’s own work and ex­pands them pro­duc­tive­ly in a va­ri­e­ty of ways.