The geographical term “hinterland” has several meanings. It can describe the rural outskirts of large metropolitan cities. Statistics show that those who live in the “hinterland” generally earn lower incomes and are not as highly educated. In military circles, the term defines the area behind the front lines. “Hinterland” can also have a psychological connotation, expressing a frame of mind which is shared by certain segments of society and manifests itself in feelings of fear, powerlessness or rage.
The interdisciplinary project by the Wiesbaden Biennale 2018 symbolically situates the “hinterland” in the centre of Wiesbaden. Eight international artists of various generations are developing interventions at locations around the city which examine the collective emotions and self-images of our society. The American photographer Roger Ballen’s installation “Empire of the Rats” plays in a vacant shopping arcade, underscoring the fear of social decline and loss of control. The Swedish architect and installation artist Thomas Bo Nilsson takes a radical approach to investigating the significance of cultural institutions. In his project “The Re-Used Theatre”, he opens a Primark store – regarded by many as a symbol of excessive consumerism – in the lobby of the Stadttheater. In rooms wrecked by vandalism, the Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué conjures the illusion of civil war – a mirror world of imagination and manipulation. And with his 300-metre-long “defence barrier”, the Spanish concept artist Santiago Sierra installs a military demarcation line straight across a popular park. In this manner, he visualises people’s fear of foreigners and creates a tangible expression of the powerful desire for isolation.
Artistic directors: Maria Magdalena Ludewig & Martin Hammer
Photographer: Roger Ballen (US)
Participating artists: Roger Ballen (US/SA), Katy Biard (UK), Samira Elagoz (FI), Vincent Glowinski (FR), Rabih Mroué (LB), Kim Noble (GB), Santiago Sierra (ES)