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SYSTEMRELEVANT ? – art intervention

Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany Systemically Important? is an impromptu exhibition with current statements on the topic of crisis and art from the late Middle Ages to the present day: isolated works meet isolated viewers – here the “social distancing” requirements translated to the museum presentation.

Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe decided not to return to business as usual after the relaxation of restrictions. Instead, we will critically monitor the social consequences of the corona crisis. “Systemic Importance” seems to be the measure of things during the Covid-19 pandemic. But what would a society look like where everything non-systemically important is dwindling away?

The term “systemic importance” originates from financial policy. Under the impact of the pandemic, its meaning expanded to all those sectors and professional groups that ensure the supply of essential goods and services to the communities, for example in the areas of food, health, public safety, logistics or energy. This has created quite a problematic criterion for differentiation, which contains the potential to constitute a valuation and to evoke social divisions. For “systemic importance” always implies its downside: “systemic un-importance”, that is to say everything that is considered dispensable. But what would a society look like if everything “systemically un-important” – stories and humour, fashion, sports shows and favourite playlists, questions of existence and broadening one’s horizon – was dwindling away?

The “systemically important” professions ensure that we live. How we live is being decided elsewhere … Systemically Important? is an improvised exhibition with art from the late Middle Ages to the present day and current statements on the topic of crisis: isolated works meet isolated viewers – here the “social distancing” requirements translate to the museum.


Art is like a grain of sand in the system. Whether the sand grain becomes a pearl or it erodes the entire machinery is initiated by the artist’s and by each individual and also society’s choices.

Art can be everything, relevant to the system or not. It acts in all areas and under all circumstances. Art is an expression of our minds, which reacts to existing situations and changes. It is seismograph and osmosis simultaneously. Art keeps us awake, confronts us with ugly truths. Sometimes it tears our eyes open, often it even hurts, but it also comforts us if needed. Sometimes it catapults us into a meta-perspective, sometimes it gets deep under our skin. Art envisions the new and broadens the horizon.

Is that relevant to the system? Whatever …. you name it. I stick with art.

See all statements in German


Zwischenruf zur „Systemrelevanz“ aus dem Museum – Deutschlandfunk Kultur

In der Ausstellung „Systemrelevant? Dass und wie wir leben“ zeigt die Kunsthalle Karlsruhe passende Werke aus ihrer Sammlung. Außerdem kommen 30 zeitgenössische Stimmen zu Wort und denken über die Corona-Pandemie nach.


Description > art intervention
Components > Print on paper
Dimensions > 2,5 m x O,60 m
Premiere > June 2020 in Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany