The readers alone Group exhibition curated by Angelika Nollert and Yilmaz Dziewior at "Utopia starts small" Fellbach Triennial of small-scale sculpture, Germany

Diango Hernández brings together heterogeneous elements – either found of his own – to form new configurations in his work. His poetic combinations suggest possibilities for the individual and free handling of aesthetics and political systems. Books with their store of views and knowledge of manifold spatial and temporal origins often serve him as a metaphor. ‘Certainly there is a lot going on inside any bookshelf and I am sure that in any of them live perfectly together differences and contradictions coexists in a very peaceful way. I love to think that we are nothing but books that have been written by many different people, in many different places but if we are books what are books then?’ 1

The readers, alone (2013) also revolves around books and the figure of the reader. A display panel lying on the floor serves as support for various arrangements of three pairs of bookends. Compared to the panel, these bookends seem small and model-like. But precisely this emptiness and the absence of books is what enables the bookends to rehearse new ‘positions’; a certain historical forgetfulness, according to Hernández, is a precondition of social revolutions. 2 On an adjacent upright display panel Hernández combines a dried plant with the title of a book by René Dumont, cofounder of the French Green Party: L’utopie ou la mort! (1973) – Reminiscence for Hernández of various slogans coined by Fidel Castro, such as Freedom or death’, ‘Socialism or death’, etc. Both objects are presented in plastic sleeves and convey a sense of vulnerability and the need of protection, while the display panels – recycle from an exhibition – suggest a past the remains of which are fragmentarily preserved. The readers, alone embodies the potential of productive readers and readings to generate new meanings from isolation, blank spaces and absences.

Astrid Wege


1 Diango Hernández, EL manual del tractorista arrepentido, Zona Maco, Mexico City, 2009. Source:
2 E-mail correspondence with the artists, 16.04.2013.
Text published in in the catalogue of: Utopie Beginnt im kleinen. -12. Triennale Kleinplastik Felbach.

“Utopia starts small” uses the concept of Utopia and knowledge of how it has been exploited and misused in the course of history. At the same time, however, it also recognises its positive connotations. The exhibition sees a particular potential for this definition of the format, wherein a small scale can be interpreted as a nucleus for social and political change.

This is especially remarkable because until now two features in particular have traditionally been attributed to small-scale sculptures: a small format or dimension on the one hand and on the other the claim to be a finished, autonomous work of art.

In modern times, however, we can observe that another form of small-scale sculpture has developed. Artists who address the idea of Utopian models are extending the limited definition of the genre to date, thus overcoming its formal limitation to small format and completeness. The 12th Fellbach Triennial concentrates on the significance of small-scale sculpture in the sense of a Utopian model. The premise is small format, and miniature dimensions are in the focus of interest. “Utopia starts small” pursues a contentual bias of small-scale sculpture as a model draft. As a result there is a productive contradiction between the fact that on the one hand the draft can be seen as a work of art in its own right, regardless of whether it is later to be realised in a larger format, and that at the same time it also contains the mental potential for change.

A total of about fifty artists of all generations will be represented at the 2013 12th Triennial of Small-scale Sculpture. Going beyond art, the exhibition examines exemplary approaches from architecture, theatre and design. In addition to historical positions, the focus will be on contemporary young artists whose works have largely arisen in situations of upheaval in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. By casting its attention increasingly on locations outside Europe, the 12th Triennial is reacting not only directly to our current global situation, but also forming a reference to the former editions of the Fellbach presentations based on the continents.

The accompanying catalogue with the same title includes, in addition to articles about the exhibiting artists, four scholarly essays dealing with: the socio-political significance of Utopia in its historical development; the thematization and development of Utopian models in art; and the aesthetics of small scale. The authors are Sarat Maharaj, Dieter Roestraete, Thomas Schölderle and Kerstin Stakemeier.


Armando Andrade Tudela / Leonor Antunes / Ei Arakawa & Nikolas Gambaroff / Anna Artaker / Vojin Bakic´ / Neïl Beloufa / Bless Arno / Brandlhuber / Teresa Burga / Luis Camnitzer / Nina Canell / Lygia Clark / Nathan Coley / Thea Djordjadze / Maria Eichhorn / Michaela Eichwald / Felix Ensslin & Studierende* / Geoffrey Farmer / Yona Friedman / Meschac Gaba / Carlos Garaicoa / Isa Genzken / Konstantin Grcic / Günter Haese / Diango Hernández / Judith Hopf / Iman Issa / Christian Jankowski & Studierende* / Rachel Khedoori / Bodys Isek Kingelez / Jakob Kolding / Moshekwa Langa / Manuela Leinhoß / Anita Leisz / Anna Maria Maiolino / Victor Man / Cildo Meireles / Michaela Melián / Michele Di Menna / Charlotte Moth / Timo Nasseri / Manfred Pernice / Pratchaya Phinthong / Falke Pisano / Erwin Piscator / Rita Ponce de León / Vjenceslav Richter / Yorgos Sapountzis / Jochen Schmith / Nora Schultz / Eckhard Schulze-Fielitz / Yutaka Sone / Ettore Sottsass / Pascale Marthine / Tayou Joëlle / Tuerlinckx / Danh Võ / Haegue Yang.