Exhibition view "Iconoclash"
Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art
Sat, May 04, 2002 – Sun, September 01, 2002

The exhibit aims to display, in a systematic confrontation, three great clashes about representation – about its necessity, sanctity, and power – in the domains of science, art, and religion. Image wars are everywhere, from the Taliban destruction of the Buddhas to the doubts about scientific imagery, through the debunking of powerful media manipulations. By linking the three domains of theology, art and science all at once, the aim is not to increase the critical mood or to reinforce disbelief and irony. On the contrary, the aim is to transform iconoclasm from being an indisputable resource into a topic to be systematically interrogated.

Instead of mocking once more those who produce images or instead of being simply furious against those who destroy them, the show aims at placing the viewer in this quandary: “We cannot do without representation. If only we could do without representation.” Monotheist religions, scientific theories, contemporary arts, not to forget political theories, have all struggled with this contradictory urge of producing and also destroying representations, images and emblems of all sorts. Through many works of ancient, modern and contemporary arts, through many scientific instruments, the show will fathom that quandary which has been so important for the self-understanding of the Western world. It aims at moving beyond the image wars by showing that behind this dramatic history of destruction of images, something else has always been going on: a cascade of image production which will be made visible throughout the exhibit, in the traditional Christian images as well as in the scientific laboratories and in the various experiments of contemporary art, music, cinema and architecture.

While the big struggles of iconoclasts against icon worshippers were going on, another history of iconophily has always been at work. This alternative history of the Western obsession with image worship and destruction will allow the establishment of less biased comparisons with other cultures influential in the rest of the world for which images have a very different role to play.

Not an art show, not a science and art show, not a history of art show, »Iconoclash« offers a bewildering display of experiments on how to suspend the iconoclastic gesture and how to renew the movement of images against any freeze-framing.

Exhibitions team

Martin Häberle (technical project management)
Sabine Himmelsbach (project management)
Gregor Jansen (project management)

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Medienmuseum

Global Future Technologies ; Landesbank Baden-Württemberg ; The Japan Foundation, Tokio ; AFAA - Bureau des Arts Plastiques ; Moderna Museet, Stockholm ; Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe ; Videor Technical, Rödermark