Hamburger Bahnhof

Schmerz / Pain

05 Apr - 05 Aug 2007

The exhibition PAIN explores the manifold depictions and expressions of pain: in an early modern painting of the Crucifixion, the medical preparation of a gouty hand, a video installation of mourners, the flickering electrical impulses of a nerve cell, a cry. It examines pain’s ability to create community, as well as the attempts to observe, analyze, seek or escape it. It shows that pain can be many things at once: subjective and objective, creative and destructive.

The two venues, the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin and the Berliner Medizinhistorische Museum der Charité, are both program and challenge. The museums stand for realms of images and things that could not be more disparate. “Pain” is predestined to thematize these expectations themselves, for neither art no science can claim to have the last word here.

The exhibition PAIN draws from all conceivable sources. Combining and confronting artistic works and medical, folk-art, religious and everyday objects, it traces the boundaries between art, medicine and cultural history. The focus is on Western culture. Following a strategy of reduction, the exhibition is not afraid to make leaps in time. It is conceived as a zone of experimentation for new visual and thematic impulses and puts up for negotiation the viewing habits traditionally associated with both museums – a challenge for curators and visitors alike.

In 15 chapters, the exhibition sets out in search of pain, of its expression, form and meaning. The chapters of the exhibition, each headed with a Greek or Latin term such as crux, exstasis or pharmakon, fall into four main sections: “Views of Pain” and “The Ecstasy of Pain” are presented in the Hamburger Bahnhof, while “The Time of Pain” and “The Expression of Pain” are shown in the Medizinhistorisches Museum. A Way of Sorrows or Stations of the Cross along Invalidenstraße and the canal to Humboldthafen connect the two museums, which are only 400 meters apart. Visitors are free to choose which museum to begin their tour with.

Whether and how pain can be adequately expressed, a question of equal importance for art, science and everyday life, is thematized in “The Expression of Pain”. Focusing on writing and the voice, it presents patient’s correspondence from five centuries and artistic explorations of the human cry that extend all the way to opera. Selected examples plumb the question of the range and restrictedness of expressions of pain in art, everyday life and medicine. The museum’s permanent collection is integrated as well and manipulated through interventions such as an installation by Aernout Mik.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with blocks of illustrations corresponding to the structure of the exhibition. The 22 essays go into greater depth on aspects of pain that can only be touched on in the exhibition context: philosophical, art-historical, medical, theological, literary, political and media-related.

Aside from those mentioned, works by the following artists and others will be shown: Birgit Brenner, Albrecht Dürer, A K Dolven, Julio González, Mathilde ter Heijne, Gary Hill, William Kentridge, Bruce Nauman, Aya Ben Ron, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Mladen Stilinovic, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Sam Taylor-Wood, Mark Wallinger.

An exhibition by the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité in cooperation with the Praxis für Ausstellungen und Theorie.

Eugen Blume, Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin;
Thomas Schnalke, Medizinhistorisches Museum;
Annemarie Hürlimann and Daniel Tyradellis, Praxis für Ausstellungen und Theorie

Tags: Eugen Blume, Birgit Brenner, AK Dolven, A K Dolven, Julio González, Mathilde ter Heijne, Gary Hill, William Kentridge, Aernout Mik, Bruce Nauman, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Mladen Stilinovic, Al Taylor, Sam Taylor-Wood, Mark Wallinger