Anna und Bernhard Johannes Blume: Prinzip Grausamkeit, 2004
Anna und Bernhard Johannes Blume
geboren 1937 in Bork bzw. Dortmund. Anna Blume verstarb 2020 in Köln, Bernhard Johannes Blume verstarb 2011 ebenda. Beide studierten an der Kunstakademie Düsseldorf und übten anschließend verschiedene Lehrtätigkeiten aus. Ab 1987 war Bernhard Blume Professor an der Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg tätig. Das Künstlerpaar wurde vor allem für seine Fotografien bekannt: in großformatigen Schwarz-Weiß-Serien fungieren sie selbst als Darsteller inszenierter Geschichten. Im Jahre 2005 hatten sie eine umfassende Retrospektive im Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin sowie im Haus Konstruktiv in Zürich. Die Serie „Kreuzweg“ (2011) war die letzte gemeinsame Arbeit. Im KULTUM wurden die Blumes in den Ausstellungen „Anna und Bernhard Blume: Der Gedanke des Todes ist unannehmbar“ (2004), „IRREALIGIOUS! Parallelwelt Religion in der Kunst“ (2011/12), „reliqte, reloaded: Zum Erbe christlicher Bildwelten heute” (2015/16) und „VULGATA. 77 Zugriffe auf die Bibel“ (2017) gezeigt.
born in Bork and Dortmund in 1937; Anna Blume died 2020 in Cologne, Bernhard Johannes Blume died in Cologne in 2011. Both studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and subsequently took on various teaching assignments. As from 1987, Bernhard Johannes Blume was professor at the HFBK – University of Fine Arts of Hamburg. The artist couple is above all known for their photographs: They act themselves as characters of staged stories in their large-format black and white series. In 2005, they had a comprehensive retrospective at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and at Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich. The series “Kreuzweg“ (2011) was the last work they created together. Anna and B.J. Blume’s works were presented in the KULTUM in the exhibitions “Anna und Bernhard Blume: Der Gedanke des Todes ist unannehmbar“ (2004) and “IRREALIGIOUS! Parallelwelt Religion in der Kunst“ (2012).
Anna und Bernhard Johannes Blume: Principle of Cruelty, 2004
“Prinzip Grausamkeit“ (Principle of Cruelty), a 70-part series by the Cologne-based photo artists Anna and Bernhard Johannes Blume, structures the museum presented in this book because 10 statements have been taken from this series. Precisely and wittily, grotesquely and ironically, it reflects the reasons and abysses of the “meaning of life”: What could be more apt for a project like this?
The famous and internationally renowned artist couple answers the question for the meaning of life— completely in line with the skepticism of late modernity—in the negative. They have kept the statements to the point, using wisdoms of philosophy of life by the French philosopher Clément Rosset which they “streamlined” themselves. Yet the irony, the wit, and the absurdity of the pictorial solutions suddenly shed a different light on the fundamental questions of existence, such as in the claim which could also be read in the previous three rooms: “Truths must be solid“, “To believe does not mean at all to believe in something“, or: “The nothing is out of the question”. The pictures of this series are brightly colored; they have been taken with a Polaroid camera and have been digitally processed afterwards. Fractured by unreal and grotesque elements, the portrait pictures of the artist couple are in the tradition of portrayal. Yet they destroy and disassemble “both the myth of the portrait and the ideology of identical personality which has always been inherent in it” (A+B. Blume).
The couple’s faces are merged with a hodgepodge of objects from the world of garden centers, DIY stores and home appliance departments (such as coat hangers, clothes lines, rubber gloves, kitchen sieves, garden hoses ...). The little paradises of the middle class, which have always been the starting point for the criticism expressed by Anna and Bernhard Johannes Blume, are exaggerated into the grotesque with the “gardening tools”—Nietzsche’s “last man” was still blinking but the Blume couple is suffering—but also not really. For the entire scenario isn’t real, after all. The blood too is not real, the violence is not real, the meatballs and the blotted cookies are not real. Everything is wobbling somehow. In contrast to the shocking blood spilled by their approximate contemporaries from the “Vienna Actionists”, the Blume couple’s is markedly synthetic and viscous. They were/still are critics of metaphysics like hardly anyone else today—perhaps because they still have/ had an idea of what metaphysics is actually about. “Metaphysik ist Männersache“ (Metaphysics is Man’s Business) was another typically ironic Blume title for a famous photo series. But one must savor the edge of their images and texts. Even though the aspect of this series rather sends a feeling of disgust down our spine at first, laughter is not far away. No matter how evil, how cynical, how ridiculous these pictures are: What they are up to in the face of the abysses opening up in the context of cruelty, suffering and death is leading us to the limit. The questions pertaining suffering and pain have become as unreal as the blood on these pictures: a synthetic mass resembling viscous chewing gum—pain without reality. “Glauben bedeutet keineswegs an etwas zu glauben“ (To believe does not mean at all to believe in something), “Die Freude am Leben ist ohne Rechtfertigung“ (Joy of life is without any justification), “Märtyrer leiden um Recht zu haben“ (Martyrs suffer to be right), “Manche Tatsachen sind erst wahr, wenn sie begriffen werden“ (Some facts are only true if they are understood), “Widersprüche sind für den Glauben kein Hindernis“ (Contradictions are no obstacles for belief), can be taken at face value, or the other way round. Like this, or like that. The series was presented in the Minoriten Galleries for the first time in 2004; at the time, Bernhard Johannes Blume wanted to have the series presented like a “modern Passion cycle”. Its title at the time: “Der Gedanke des Todes ist unannehmbar“ (The Idea of Death Is Not Acceptable). For the exhibition “IRREALIGIOUS!“ (2011/12) this series returned to the KULTUMdepot—for the artist, this was the most suitable place to archive the series. The pictures were picked up in Cologne one day after Bernhard Johannes Blume’s unexpected death: “Die Erkenntnis des Wirklichen ist nicht nur unvermeidlich, sondern auch unannehmbar” (The knowledge of the real is not only unavoidable but also not acceptable). This statement, which also belongs to this series, was written on the obituary