10 media artworks by Peter Weibel at the ZKM

The ZKM collection receives important works and large parts from the archive of the media artist

A man stands in a pentagram surrounded by monitors and cameras. The photo shows Peter Weibel as part of the exhibition »respektive Peter Weibel«.

Through his diverse activities as an artist, curator, theorist and as a nomad between art and science, he is considered a central figure in European media art. The ZKM acquired ten outstanding works by Peter Weibel shortly before his death.

The selection of artworks spans a period from 1968 to 1993 and covers decisive phases in Peter Weibel's oeuvre: from the performances and electronic experiments of the 1960s, video installations of the early 1970s to computer-based installations from the early 1990s. The archive consists of photographs, drawings, manuscripts and sketches from the 1960s and 1970s as well as about 300 videos, films and sound recordings from the 1960s to the present.

In the 1960s, the era of the expansion of the arts, painting and sculpture expanded into forms of action for artists. Peter Weibel has developed literature and media into forms of audience action through participation and interaction. In the interplay of his artistic, theoretical, curatorial and institutional activities, he is regarded as a central figure in European media art. Since 1999 Peter Weibel was the scientific-artistic director of the ZKM, which he shaped during his 24 years as a publicist and curator. On March 1, 2023, he passed away in Karlsruhe after a short serious illness at the age of 78.

"The art purchase is a unique opportunity [...] Many works stand for milestones in the history of media art" (Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup, Chairman of the ZKM Foundation Council).

The acquisition of the installations, objects and archival materials - together with the artist's videos, objects and installations already in the ZKM's possession - opens up the possibility of tracing the development of Peter Weibel's work over a period of 50 years and of understanding his theory-driven experimentation with language and media. The works are an essential contribution to the ZKM's media art collection, which makes the history of media art of the 20th and 21st centuries accessible to a broad audience and future generations in a unique way.

Peter Weibel's work encompasses an unusually broad spectrum of artistic formats - from performance, film, expanded cinema, sound art and video art to digital art - and is clearly influenced by his theoretical work. From his engagement with the philosophy of language, art and film history, epistemology, political philosophy, automaton theory, mathematics and physics, Weibel derives a variety of content and forms to continually address the questions that are central to him: the question of the construction of reality as well as the conditions of justice for the individual and society. Peter Weibel himself emphasises that for him art is an "act of cognition" - both on the part of the artist and on the part of the audience.

The purchase was made possible by the initiative and a generous grant from the Elke and Wolfgang Kuentzle Foundation as well as art purchase funds from the state of Baden-Württemberg, the city of Karlsruhe and the ZKM. Peter Weibel himself contributed to the purchase with an extensive donation.