Manipulation of Delphi

Christian Engelmann
Julia Klemm
Magdalena Waller

exhibition start: 25th of November 2020
exhibition end: unknown

Kunstarkaden München
Sparkassenstraße 3

While the exhibition is closed you can partly see it through the window (Sparkassenstraße 3 Munich) or by visiting the digital world via this symbols:




"Know thyself" was written above the oracle of Delphi; but how does one know oneself in the present? During the COVID-19 pandemic we learned that predictions more often take the form of oracles, and today's oracles come across as predictions. What does this say about us?

The collaborative exhibition Manipulation of Delphi addresses these questions, and its title seems almost prophetic in this, given the planning that had already taken place in 2019. “Manipulation of Delphi” was inspired by the so-called "Delphi method", a multi-stage qualitative decision-making process based on statements from very different experts. Thus, the method is an intellectual and collective experiment, directed towards the future. The three artistic positions translate this procedure into a series of material experiments. They play out the uncertain relationship between predictable and unpredictable, between manipulable and uncontrollable material processes and material effects.

In her paintings, Magdalena Waller focuses on the tension between self-activated oxidation dynamics and fixing interventions. Julia Klemm and Christian Engelmann take the kiln as starting point within the transformative ceramic process.

In their complex interplay, artistic prognosis, intervention and material momentum produce different results: In Waller's paintings, architectural figurations, abstracted from ancient models, appear on silver leaf mosaics arranged in lattice-like structures with outlines of varying concision. In these self-forming light paintings, Waller uses natural oxidation processes of leaf metals, a traditional technique in Japanese temple painting. The decision to arrest the process of oxidation, or allow it to continue, appears individually in each work. Waller’s paintings communicate with equally fragile sculptural assemblages by Klemm. Composed of seemingly unstable pedestals and ceramic objects, they suggest different moments of toppling and breaking, depending on the position the viewers take up in front of them. Porcelain animals are Klemm’s basic material. She fragments and recomposes them in multiple firings, all the while covering them with viscousglazes.

The firing process also plays a key role in Engelmann’s work, when he surrenders national flags on ceramic plates to the kiln. His work “Point of View” (“Standpunkt”) can be understood as a refused experiment. An installation of light rods invites visitors to move through the room and try out different points of view, but at the same time it rejects this invitation: the high voltage rods are deadly and make any access impossible.

Prognostic and prophetic statements throw those seeking the future back on themselves and their human ignorance. This is one possible insight of the exhibition. And it was precisely the meaning of the Delphic "know thyself" in many ancient tragedies.

The irony of the ancient fates would have it that the exhibition itself was exposed to the greatest imponderables. The COVID-19 pandemic sent it into an ongoing curatorial experiment, culminating in a ritualised preview series in Klemm’s and Waller’s studios and a brief opening at the Kunstarkaden. Now, the exhibition is closed again and can be seen from the outside, through the windows alongside Sparkassenstraße. In addition, short films (youtube) are being created under the direction of the artists.

Tanja Klemm und Jan Söffner