all the lonely people


To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Villa Aurora, VATMH (Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House) presents the exhibition "all the lonely people".  The exhibition, curated by Nana Bahlmann, examines the ancient figure of the hermit against the backdrop of the current pandemic. The show presents examples of loneliness, melancholy, and longing, as well as physical and mental withdrawal. 

"all the lonely people" makes the experience of isolation and solitude visible. In doing so, the artworks take up traditional motifs associated with hermitage – retreat into nature, contemplation, and the dualities of inside and outside, exchange and silence, exclusion and trauma – and apply them to some of today’s urgent questions. They offer new perspectives on loneliness in the digital age, off-grid self-sufficiency, and imaginary places of refuge in the midst of gentrification and systemic oppression.

The selected works explore the motif of the hermit through photography, video, sculpture, sound, and installations: Vajiko Chachkhiani's video Life Track presents an impressive image of a physically and mentally isolated man whose loneliness takes place in the midst of our society, yet remains invisible. Louisa Clement's Representative, a lifelike self-portrait of the artist as a "Real Doll," thematizes the solitude of lives lived increasingly online and the alienation from oneself experienced when virtual avatars become noticeably distinct from reality. Bahlmann's exhibition toggles between nature and artificiality, as in Kaari Upson’s casts of tree stumps, which invert inflated notions of nature, of peace and quiet, into an eerie thicket of memory, while Andrea Zittel uses sculptural testing grounds in the isolation of the desert to experiment with alternative ways of living. In Playing to the Birds, Annika Kahrs shows the attempt to overcome loneliness through music and communication. A monochrome gypsum relief of a brick wall, by Lauren Halsey, represents the collective refuge of many marginalized groups in the artist's native South Central LA, a neighborhood known for racial unrest and gang violence. Thomas Struth's large-scale photograph Schlichter Weg, Feldberger Seenlandschaft 2021 was created in isolation and rural seclusion during Germany’s last pandemic winter. April Street's Still Life at 12 o'clock references the hermit’s close relationship to nature, and creates a fantastic landscape where physical reality and the artist’s inner world are united into a single pictorial plane. In Trees and Flowers Suzan Philipsz lends her voice to the fear of the outside experienced during isolation, whilst Anri Sala's early video work Uomoduomo captures the isolated existence of an unhoused person, forced to live on the fringes of society. In a new work, Saâdane Afif explores strategies of shared authorship in the context of artistic self-encounter. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a supporting program of films, readings, talks, performances and concerts featuring: Tanja Dückers, Felicitas Hoppe, Monika Rinck, Yoko Tawada, Senthuran Varatharajah, Planningtorock aka Jam Rostron, Olaf Nicolai & Public Possession, and many others.

September 25 - October 10
Tuesdays – Friday: noon – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.