— Curatorial —



Where are we? What is this place?

We’re in the Old Botanical Garden in Kiel, and we are standing here in the `Topfhaus´, the potting shed, a brick building measuring 31 meters in length and 5 meters in width. It was built in 1884/85 as the core building of a larger greenhouse complex of the Botanical Institute and was destroyed for the most part during World War II.

The `Topfhaus´ is art-historicaly preserved monument and unique document of the more than 350-year history of botany at Kiel University; it is a document of the nation-state development of Prussia into the German Kaiserreich in the province of Schleswig-Holstein.

What exactly is the „Topfhaus”, the potting shed?

As the name suggests - it was a house full of pots and served mainly to raise and repot rare and exotic plants for the Botanical Garden, in addition it supplied watering and heating for the attached greenhouses. It provided recreation rooms for the gardeners, and the stoker lived here.

Restoring the building in a manner befitting a historic monument, the "Topfhaus-foundation Kiel" was established and with a generous funding for historic preservation from the state of Schleswig-Holstein, renovation work could begin in 2016. The clinkered exterior walls were repaired, partially replacing the bricks one by one and applying new pointing. The potting shed was given a new roof, the chimney was rebuilt, the windows, doors and staircases were renewed, and the wrought-iron railings were rebuilt according to historical plans. Some of these original plans archive the long history, you will still find them in the rooms. So there has always been a lot of work in this building, the pot house.

Today, in 2022, gallery cube plus invited 6 artists to present their work here, in their own way, artistically exploring and investigating the search for a place of belonging, the place of oneself in the world - the “VERORTUNG”. As we all know, this is a continuous search - and when it seems to end, it feels temporarily gratifying, liberating, and relieving, the fragile feeling of having arrived.

No matter where you come from, near or far, from this country and this culture, or another - this search for our very own place, our home, somehow affects us all in our lives. This is not referring to the external, physical, the actual and geographical place, one’s home or homeland - it rather refers to one’s internal, emotional, intellectual, and metaphysical place in this wide, wild world. Ultimately, it is a search to be among like-minded people who understand you and with whom you can connect and communicate.

To LOCATE oneself means to decide, to stay there and stand with it, to belong, to adapt to what has been foreign and make it one's own. To put down roots. Like plants do.

So, now we are back to the pots and the plants that once were cultivated here, stood in abundance in pots in which small plants, native and exotic, were raised, eventually to be planted outside - as soon as they took root and were strong enough, to be relocated from inside the potting shed outside into the vast grounds of the Botanical Garden, in the cold, fresh Kiel air.

If plants could speak, they would tell some stories... perhaps, they’d talk about the cold wind they had to brace themselves against to avoid falling over, about the big German oaks that need so much space and yet offer protection, the incredible diversity - and the luck of taking root abroad, in the wild outdoors...

Instead, here, today, in the Topfhaus, six artists tell their stories and share their perspectives on the quest for a place to locate and grow roots, the struggle to find one's own place to belong. Unlike plants, the artists can talk and with the works presented here, they speak to us about the search for belonging and the confrontation with questions of identity.

Some have come from far away; most have studied here in Kiel at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts. All have been invited by gallery cube plus, represented by gallery owner and curator Shi Shi.

The artists and their works:

Esteban Pérez: "Six Degrees of Freedom" a video work using CGI and AI.
Ya-Wen Fu: "The body: multi-divided", a multi-media installation.
Nai-Wei Tian: "sweet home", a large format video installation.
Ying-Chih Chen: "I am me in your eyes", a room-sized sculptural work.
Takashi Sonoda: "Distel", a multi-part video performance.
Regine Schulz: "o.T." and "Riss I-III", sculptural work.