Secret Surface. Where Meaning arises

An exhibition on modern faith and spirituality

Ying Miao, Aus der Installation / From the installation: APP-NOSIS, 2013-2014, Courtesy: Ying Miao

Humankind created religions and other systems of spirituality in order to decipher the meaning of existence. Armed with faith, people grapple with the realisation that life is an endless cycle of searching and discovering, and that there is “nothing new under the sun”, as is written in the Old Testament. In Western secular societies, capitalism has acquired a pseudo-religious character with its promise of perpetual renewal through progress and growth. However, capitalism celebrates the individual and the pursuit of individuality as the ultimate goal, while the search for meaning is permanently postponed. Yet the desire to find new ways to escape isolation and the feeling of meaninglessness has become all the more urgent.
The exhibition “Secret Surface. Where Meaning arises” presented contemporary works by artists that do not set up any kind of spiritual afterworld alongside unsatisfactory reality, but conceive of emptiness as a driving force in itself. Against this background, the works in this group exhibition examined whether – and how – meaning is brought about without recourse to metaphysical explanatory models.
The show was divided into four parts: The prolog “Secret of the Surface” introduced the subject matter and demonstrated that surfaces appear seductive because they can never be completely experienced visually. The artworks in the first chapter “Beneath the Firmament” were devoted to the physical and material reality of the universe, its attractive force and impermanence. The chapter “World as Surface” probed various concepts of relationship to the world. The last chapter, “Modes of Subjectification”, explored forms of encountering oneself and others not based on a fixed identity.

Artistic director: Ellen Blumenstein
Curator: Catherine Wood (GB)
Artists: niv Acosta, Auto Italia (Kate Cooper, Marianne Forrest, Andrew Kerton und Jess Wiesner), Trisha Baga, Anna Barham, Eduardo Basualdo, Viktoria Binschtok, Gwenneth Boelens, Beth Collar, Hollis Frampton, Spiros Hadjidjanos, Andy Holden, Alex Israel, Philipp Lachenmann, Mark Leckey, Lawrence Lek, Ying Miao, Philippe Parreno, Elizabeth Price, Emily Roysdon, Georgia Sagri, Prem Sahib, Nora Schultz, Katharina Sieverding, Reena Spaulings, Patrick Staff und Cara Tolmie, Philipp Timischl, Frances Stark, Martijn in 't Veld a.o.


KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Kunst-Werke Berlin e.V.

Auguststraße 69

10117 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)