Nachleben,
Goethe Institut NY
Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, New York City
May 7 - 29, 2010


Peggy Ahwesh, Clifford Borress, Matthew Buckingham, Patricia Esquivias, William E. Jones, Harun Farocki, Rachel Harrison, Zora Neal Hurston, John Miller, Lucy Raven, W. Eugene Smith, Stan VanDerBeek, James Welling, Christopher Wool, Akram Zaatari

Organized by Fionn Meade and Lucy Raven

Nachleben Catalog PDF Download




Taking up art historian Aby Warburg's signature idea of Nachleben, meaning both "afterlife" and "survival," a display of contemporary art works and a series of related programs bring together artistic practices that share an affinity with Warburg's proposals regarding associative thinking, image sequencing, and a dialectics of seeing that extends across eras, cultures, and methodologies.

Referring to the survival of images and motifs—the continuity or afterlife and metamorphosis of images—as opposed to their renascence or wholesale replacement via innovation and advances in image technology, “nachleben” implies an engagement with sequence, gesture, and rupture as an interrelated way of seeing, encountering, and remembering images.

The display focuses on divergent artistic approaches that share an engagement with taking and sequencing images in order to unsettle rather than resolve our understanding of eros, city life, nostalgia, monuments, artificial intelligence, family life, labor, and various iterations of history—grasping images in close proximity only to release them. In many cases, this exists without any direct or pre-existing Warburgian influence or reference, and yet the onus is repeatedly put upon motion, variation, and revision as a critical approach to image sequencing.

As an experiment with the potential for organizing and presenting contemporary art in a Warburgian mode, Nachleben proceeds via a symptomatic proximity as the works on view are brought closely together to provoke oscillations of similitude and difference, displacements of affect, and allusive possibility. The beginning of a conversation regarding the practical efficacy and potential of Aby Warburg’s thinking today, the project includes a series of programs that extend the opportunity to reconsider his ideas as animating the contemporary. The texts and images gathered here overlap rather than define in a similar way, offering prompts and associative links between pre-existing projects and writings.


Nachleben Programs:
Saturday, May 8, 3pm – John Miller discusses his ongoing “Middle of the Day” project
Monday, May 10, 7pm – Screening and discussion with filmmaker Peggy Ahwesh
Thursday, May 13, 7pm – Screening of StanVanDerBeek films followed by a discussion with Sara VanDerBeek
Wednesday, May 19, 7pm – David Levi Strauss lecture: Breakdown in the Gray Room: Reconsidering the Images from Abu Ghraib
Thursday, May 20, 7pm – Matthew Buckingham revisits his installation and book project Improbable Horse
Tuesday, May 25, 7pm – Screening of Harun Farocki's The Taste of Life (1979) and Berlin Flash Frames (2010) by William E. Jones, followed by a discussion with Jones