Friday, 21 November 2008, 24:00 | midnight

#1: Sven Johne and Bjørn Melhus

Sven Johne whose photography series are evidence and documentation of histories behind the pictures, in a mixture of found and invented constantly oscillating between literature and newspaper reports, has made two videos that deal with special forms of communication. »Elmenhorst« shows a border transgression and encounter between two people in several ways. His most recent work, »Wissower Klinken«, is based on an actual event and a (stubborn) myth that the artist has woven into a complex story. It is shown with English subtitles, so that the video also exhibits the overlapping of text and image so typical of Sven Johne’s work.

The medium as mirror, communication that fails not only due to language barriers: besides these issues, the video works of Bjørn Melhus frequently include references to the big screen. The soundtrack in »Das Zauberglas« (1991), for example, comes from the Western »Broken Arrow«, in which James Stewart appears as a mediator among settlers, soldiers, and Indians. »The Castle«, his most recent work, also borrows formally from the Hollywood format. »America Sells« and »Jetzt (Now)« explore aspects of reunification. »America sells« is a kind of advertisement and victory celebration with which the people on Berlin Alexanderplatz saw themselves confronted on the day of German currency reform, when the still existing GDR introduced the West German Deutsche Mark as currency.

Sven Johne and Bjørn Melhus present:

Sven Johne »Elmenhorst«, 2006, 6 min
Sven Johne »Wissower Klinken«, 2007, 8 min

Bjørn Melhus »America sells«, 1990, 7 min
Bjørn Melhus »Jetzt (Now)«, 1993, 5 min
Bjørn Melhus »Das Zauberglas«, 1991, 6 min
Bjørn Melhus »The Castle«, 2007, 3 min


Sven Johne (b. 1976 in Bergen on Rügen, Germany) uses the media of photography, video, text, and archive collections to display his work’s conceptual approach. At the core of his work is the question of the authenticity of information, documents and narratives and their verifying nature.

The elements of his work function as apparent or actual proof of the fates of individual, in which, in turn, present-day social, economic, and political conditions are manifested. The subjects are often closely linked to the social changes in East Germany and their effect on individual life stories. Johne’s work reports on former refugees from East Germany, border soldiers, and civil rights activists, but also on ship-hijackings and hiking through the East German countryside in search of wolfs. Fact and fiction interweave; bits of information become symbols. Research results are shaped into allegories of yearnings, ideologies, and economic development.

Sven Johne belongs to a generation of artists who grew up in the former East Germany. He experienced the autumn of 1989 as a child and today examines in a variety of ways, with a politically sharpened awareness, the issues of the historical legacy of East-West German history.

Sven Johne’s web site:

Bjørn Melhus
 (b. 1966 in Kirchheim/Teck, Germany) is a German-Norwegian media artist living and working in Berlin. In his work he has developed a singular position, expanding the possibilities for a critical reception of cinema and television. His practice of fragmentation, destruction, and reconstitution of well-known figures, topics, and strategies of the mass media opens up not only a network of new interpretations and critical commentaries, but also defines the relationship of mass media and viewer anew. Originally rooted in an experimental film context, Bjørn Melhus’s work has been shown and awarded at numerous international film festivals. He has held screenings at Tate Modern and the LUX in London, the Museum of Modern Art (MediaScope) in New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, amongst others. His work has been exhibited in shows like The American Effect at the Whitney Museum New York, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, solo and group shows at FACT Liverpool, Serpentine Gallery London, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Museum Ludwig Cologne, ZKM Karlsruhe, Denver Art Museum among others. Since 2003 Bjørn Melhus has been a professor for Fine Arts and Virtual Realities at the Kunsthochschule Kassel, Germany.

Bjørn Melhus’ web site: