A bouquet of tulips at the reception desk—a casual gesture with which the artists’ collective Jochen Schmith makes reference to the first documented speculation bubble in economic history: so-called tulip mania. When the flower’s still unknown bulb was brought to Holland in the late 16th century, the exotic plant sparked a downright tulip craze among the Dutch. A price explosion occurred in the 1630s, in part fifty-fold, so that, for example, a house in Amsterdam could be purchased for three tulip bulbs. The bubble burst in 1637: virtually overnight, prices fell by more than 95%. One of the paintings in the exhibition also features tulips. It is the copy of Flowers in a Glass Vase by Jan Brueghels the Elder (1568–1625), a painting stolen in 2008 and currently being sought by Interpol— Jochen Schmith had it reproduced in an “artist village” in China, where painters produce commissioned assembly-line paintings.
Jochen Schmith, an artists’ collective consisting of Carola Wagenplast, Peter Hoppe, and Peter Steckroth, pursues the question of perceived values at different levels: on the one hand, it relates to the mechanisms that establish value and exclusivity, and, on the other hand, to the resulting consequences. However, Jochen Schmith consistently negotiates the fragmentation of realities or visual worlds, and in doing so makes the potentiality of places or things visible. By performing certain interventions, the collective visualizes structural changes to the history-laden, Early Classicist Villa Salve Hospes and relates these to current social constructions: in the spaces of the upper-class villa it presents, among other things, the former doorknobs of a contemporary high-end boutique. The scratches on their surfaces are testimony to their having been used for twenty years; to the heavy rings on the fingers of customers with money to spend. Light projections on the villa’s walls make reference to former (servant’s) entrances that have been closed off in the meantime. Jochen Schmith enshrouds the stucco statues in the Haus Salve Hospes’ rotunda with fabrics from haute couture collec-tions, at the same time revealing their actual purpose: representation.
A comprehensive catalogue featuring contributions by Yilmaz Dziewior, Jörn Schafaff, and Hilke Wagner is being published in conjunction with the exhibition in collaboration with kunstzeitraum in Munich, from which the artists’ collection Jochen Schmith has received a grant.