Yaël Kempf
Thanx 4 Coming
December 5 — December 15, 2019
curated by Angela Theisen & Alexander Pütz

at Moltkerei Werkstatt
Special thanks to
Elvira Axt, Gil Bronner, David Evrard, Markus Kersting, Raphael Nocken

photos: Deniz Saridas


With her performance and installation-based exhibition Thanx 4 Coming, Yaël Kempf pushes against typical conventions about how art is valued intrinsically and extrinsically. When art is treated as just another commodity to be consumed, it is not only the artwork that is for sale, but also all those involved in its creation. This dynamic allows those in a small elite circle with the greatest financial resources to position themselves as gatekeepers, thereby passing judgment on the meaning of art itself.

Yaël Kempf critiques this system and tries to break it by giving everyone who visits the exhibition a €1 coin. This paradigm shift of paying visitors for showing up – as opposed to requiring an entrance fee – draws them into the performance and, by extension, its valuation. The more visitors who attend the exhibition, the more money the artist loses. This transparent valuation is based solely on social interaction. You don’t have to do anything because you won’t be judged. You can do everything because you alone decide.

The video and sculpture installation transforms the exhibition space into a darkened nightclub with deep bass, fog machines and rotating lights. Participants become invisible in the dense fog and sink into limbo. Kempf then changes the perspective and breaks the illusion of being at a party by throwing visitors back into the dysfunctional present via video screens. The artist persuasively dissects the relationship between image, language and viewer to reassemble it into a new narrative construct. The resulting declaration of love tries to seduce the visitor into visualizing another worldview formed by fate instead of chance. Thanx 4 Coming moves between the surreal and the unavoidable truth that each of us must leave our individual comfort zones in order to come together collectively to create social change.