An airplane circles over Berlin dragging a banner with the message “MACHT NICHTS”. These two seemingly simple German syllables “MACHT NICHTS” are an ambiguous German word play: on the one hand one can read it as a pacification – “It’s no so bad, it doesn’t matter” – on the other hand one could understand it as the imperative “Don’t do anything!”, “Make nothing!”, “Remain passive!”.

The absence of a sender enhances this ambivalence and makes it somewhat uncanny. Omnipresent advertisement strategies usually animate us to consume. A standstill has to be avoided at all costs, permanent action is demanded from us. Not only in the economy a standstill equals regression. “Doing nothing” seems dangerous. However, many of us wish to finally “not do anything”. Lastly, one could read “MACHT NICHTS” as a paradoxical meeting of the nouns “power”(Macht) and “nothing”(Nichts). A paradoxical couple with a full void of meaning that everyone will read differently. But the question remains: “Does it not matter if we don’t do anything?”

(Maria Cristina Calaflores, Art Historian, Berlin)

Since the beginning of the world economical crisis in 2009, MACHT NICHTS has appeared in different shapes: free badges which are handed out in exhibitions, a spot on an LED-Advertisement-Screen, and a billboard in public space, and an airplane banner flight over Berlin.

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Clemens Wilhelm (*1980 in West-Berlin) is a multi media artist.

“I believe that everything has been said, but not by everybody. That’s what keeps me going. A good work of art works like a good story. It should shake up your consciousness and make you think and feel. I am not smarter oder dumber than my audience, I want to meet it on eye-level.”

During the residency at SUMU AIR/Titanik Gallery, Clemens Wilhelm will present a selection of his earlier works in combination with new work made in Turku.

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