– Autumn/Winter 2010

Events, Works, Exhibitions

Vita passiva, or Shards Bring Love: On the Work of Judith Hopf

Sabeth Buchmann

Judith Hopf's work over nearly twenty years mixes significant genealogies of the 1990s: conceptual/performative, objectlike/ installation and video and cinematographic forms. Her work is shown not only in art venues, but also in the theatre, in the cinema, on the radio and at bookstores, clubs and 'off spaces'. Like others of her generation, Hopf's way of working is characterised by this decentred quality, which may be rooted partially in the gradually expanding institutionalisation of contemporary art. This decentred quality also has to do with the specific circumstances of Berlin in the 1990s - where Hopf began working - when activities that conceived of themselves as art in the broadest sense occurred at a variety of social sites beyond the confines of art institutions. Affordable rents provided a favourable climate for the production and hosting of event spaces of all kinds, where, for a time, despite the rapid pace of the art scene's ongoing commercialisation, self-organised lowbudget projects existed alongside simultaneously emerging 'young' galleries.

It was in this mood that the Free Class was founded at the Academy for Fine Arts (the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, now the Universität der Künste), which Hopf participated in alongside such artists as Klaus Weber and Katja Reichardt (who later co-established the bookstore pro qm), as well as the future gallerist Alexander Schröder (who went on to form Neu Galerie). Amongst the Free Class's guests in those years were Renée Green, Nils Norman, Stephen Prina, Stephan Dillemuth and others whose work was then, and in part still is, located in the 'contact zones' between artistic, pop-cultural, academic, urban and social fields. In this situation, the understanding of art as a result of

  1. See Slavoj Žižek, The Parallax View, Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2006. With regard to the parallax, or rather the parallax gap, Žižek speaks of the confrontation between 'two closely linked perspectives between which no neutral common ground is possible'. Ibid., p.4.

  2. W.J.T. Mitchell, 'Metapictures', Picture Theory, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994, pp.40-41. Steinberg's quote within the text comes from Harold Rosenberg's text for the Whitney Museum catalogue, Saul Steinberg, New York: Knopf, 1978, p.19.

  3. See by Rita Baukrowitz and Karin Günther (ed.), in collaboration with Gunter Reski, Stephan Dillemuth and Thaddäus Hüppi, Team Compendium: Selfmade Matches. Selbstorganisation im Bereich Kunst, Hamburg: Kellner Verlag, 1994, p.179.

  4. A counter-fair organised in 1996 by Alice Creischer, Stefan Dillemuth, Dierk Schmidt, Andreas Siekmann and others that took place in parallel with 'Unfair', a fair organised by the then-successful young Cologne gallery scene, and which sought to differentiate itself from the Art Cologne fair.

  5. Quoted from The Magnetic Fields, 'The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure', 69 Love Songs, 1999.