Exhibition // Irma Hünerfauth - Speaking Boxes

Simian presents the first posthumous solo exhibition of German artist Irma Hünerfauth (1907-1998).
Hünerfauth, who in the 1950s and 60s worked in the context of abstract expressionism and action
painting, radically shifted to making kinetic multi-media objects that combine speech, sound, and
movement in 1968. These "Vibrationsobjekte" (Vibration Objects) are made from consumer society's
detritus – scrap metal, electric parts, and plastic waste – and contained in transparent terrarium-like
boxes. Reminiscent of architectural or stage set models, these containers play on the "fetish of
modernity": the universalized shelter-giving container that confines the human body. In these
artworks, also called "Sprechende Kästen" (Speaking Boxes), ready-made materials, speech and
descriptive titles address issues that remain highly relevant today. For instance, they call into question
the unsustainable promises of an "economic miracle" based on extraction and depletion, pollution and
alienation in the modern city, militarism, and war's impact on the natural environment. Exhibited
internationally as "IRMAnipulations", they contrasted with figurative sculptures such as "STATT LUFT -
STADTLUFT" (INSTEAD OF AIR - CITY AIR) – an over two meter tall object, used in participative actions
in public space that raised awareness of the pressing issue of pollution in the urban environments.

This historical presentation is accompanied by an event and screening program that brings together
contributions by artists and architects that further re-read, expand and contextualize the themes
addressed by Hünerfauth and reflect on the making and maintenance of the modern city, its engrained
power structures and ecological realities.


Opening hours

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 12:00 - 17:00