Secret Compartments

23 July 2015 - 6 March 2016

A chest, a pill box, a folding screen ‒ what these so very disparate objects have in common is that they all define a space. They offer an in-front-of or a behind, an on-top-of or an underneath, and they are distinguished by the ability to reveal or conceal, depending on the perspective of the beholder.

At the core of the exhibition Secret Compartments was the multiperspectival contemplation of the museum’s own heterogeneous collection with regard to the phenomenon of concealment. The Museum Angewandte Kunst opened up its depots to thirty experts and culture producers from museums and institutions as a way of tracing various possibilities, motifs and functions of this phenomenon with the aid of the objects they selected. Through the item chosen, but also through its curatorial staging, each individual presentation commented on the double character of revealing and concealing anew.

A piece of furniture can be viewed, for example, as a body to be laid bare so as to expose its function down to the last box spring. Other objects remain closed and make use of filmic, audio or material interventions to allude to their possible contents, which can be conveyed fictitiously, subjectively or cultural-historically.

The secret or the suppressed, the unwanted or the valuable may be hidden behind a folding screen, in a suitcase or in a small chest. With the aid of a filmic projection, a pill box makes reference to the cultural history of female hysteria, and a cosmetic case points to the human desire to conceal something with the help of an object. The interplay between concealment and exposure made possible by objects with the aid of drawers, doors and lids in turn creates stages for further items and reflections. Finally, there are also objects – for example a bookcase by Dieter Rams – that profess to keep nothing secret. In the context of the exhibition, this set of shelves becomes an ironic commentary, particularly when it is rendered nearly invisible itself behind its load of books.

Secret Compartments inquired into the stories concealed in objects and, with some thirty individual presentations, took a heterogeneous and eclectic look at the Museum Angewandte Kunst collection. The exhibition set a process of disclosure in motion and takes individual perspectives as points of departure to ask how a museum and its collection function.

Idea, concept and general supervision: Julia Koch and Matthias Wagner K

Curatorial assistance: Juliane Duft

The curators of the individual presentations:

Volker Albus (Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe), Claudia Banz (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg), Katia Baudin (Museum Ludwig, Köln), Tulga Beyerle (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Kunstgewerbemuseum), Evelyn Brockhoff (Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main), Oliver Elser (Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt am Main), Klaus Görner (MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main), Peter Gorschlüter (MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main), Sebastian Hackenschmidt (MAK Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst / Gegenwartskunst, Wien), Maren Christine Härtel (Historisches Museum Frankfurt), Martin Hegel (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Petra Hesse (Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln), Klaus Klemp (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Julia Koch (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Carolin Köchling, (freie Kuratorin, Berlin), Mahret Kupka (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Eva Linhart (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Rosita Nenno (DLM Deutsches Ledermuseum/Schuhmuseum Offenbach), Angelika Nollert (Die Neue Sammlung – Staatliches Museum für angewandte Kunst (The International Design Museum), München), Martina Pall (Schell Collection Graz, Museum für Schlösser, Schlüssel, Kästchen, Kassetten und Eisenkunstguss), Sabine Runde (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Robin Schuldenfrei (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Wolfgang Ullrich (freier Kulturwissenschaftler, Leipzig), Bettina Uppenkamp (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden), Nicola von Albrecht (freie Kuratorin, Berlin), Stephan von der Schulenburg (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Friedrich von Borries (Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg), Matthias Wagner K (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Grit Weber (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main), Peter Zizka (freier Kurator und Gestalter, Berlin und Frankfurt am Main)