In two following solo exhibitions, the Kunstverein Hamburg is presenting neon works by Silke Wagner (*1968, lives in Frankfurt/Main).
For the most part, neon signs are used in the urban space for outdoor advertising to generate attention and convey a message in a vivid manner. With her neon works, Silke Wagner, too, engages in a form of pictorial information transmission. However, she concentrates on political statements or symbols. Political enlightenment and agitation are the order of the day, beyond the classical demonstration banners and posters, beyond the accustomed artistic media and fields of action. Moreover, Wagner transfers genuinely socially relevant topics into the art context, thus not only generating new publicity but also blurring the dividing lines between the exhibition situation and everyday life.
The work “When Saturday Comes” – originally conceived for the open air exhibition “Das große Rasenstück” in Nuremberg in 2006 – assembles motifs from the world of soccer, taking a look at critical aspects of the sport. The aesthetic treatment of soccer is induced less by love of the game than by the fact that the “soccer system” can tell us a great deal about social developments and political trends. Silke Wagner selects various events and personalities that stand for the development of and concern with soccer. For example, we find a picture of the British player Justin Fashanu. In the 1980s, he played for Nottingham Forest and other clubs, and was the first professional player to out himself as homosexual, which ultimately led to his dismissal. Or the face of Cesar Luis Menotti, who in 1978 won the world cup as trainer for Argentina. At the presentation of the trophy he demonstratively refused before the cameras to shake hands with the Argentinean dictator General Videla. In the ground floor exhibition space of the Kunstverein, the stylised faces, soccer emblems and motifs are arranged to form a neon wall that builds up step by step.