Stephan Dillemuth considers his options as a fine artist with regard to a changing public sphere. In the context of our societies of control, he attaches particular importance to forms of self-organization as ways of generating personal and collective integrity.
With its inherent scope for reflection, analysis, and experimentation, art creates beauty, but for this reason Dillemuth also credits it with the potential to change society.
When exploring current issues, Stephan Dillemuth studies historical movements and situations of social upheaval. But this researchinto the Lebensreform (life reform) movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, the Bavarian Soviet Republic, and progressive countercultures of the 1970sis always put to the test using experimental artistic means. The results of these experiments take the form of installations, mises en scène, and collaborative works, as well as videos, lectures, and publications.
As the artist says: Today, we perceive the public sphere as diffuse, paralyzed, and deeply divided by markets. Institutions select and confer prestige, they create values, they define how knowledge will be made available, they translate it into a relationship with the public. In contrast to institutional authority, the exhibition Means of Public Transport makes itself vulnerable and tries to keep access open. This is necessary if we wish to examine the way open sources and open knowledge can change the conditions under which we live.
In his exhibition at the Secession
Stephan Dillemuth responds to the above-mentioned institutional situation, among others, by modifying the conditions of entry. The exhibition spaces can only be accessed directly from outside via the buildings right-hand side entrance, and the opening hours have been extended: Thursday through Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm (!).
In the exhibitions entrance area, Dillemuth has placed a well: The original function of a well was that of a meeting place, the focal point of the village where news, information, and gossip were exchanged. In former times, the well was THE public sculpture, whereas it now possesses no such significance. But the question remains as to the places where public life takes shape today a question concerning open source and free access to knowledge.
In the installation Ohne Alles, auch ohne Titel (Without anything, no title either), live footage of a public space is projected onto the walls from a rotating plinth. This construction is driven by cogs made of plaster, and the plinth contains the negative cast of a body. The (missing) presence of the subject in the public sphere, its mechanical, structural interdependencies, the blurring of the lines between public and private, point to questions of a desire to shape and reconstruct the public sphere and public life.
These questions are addressed in concrete terms in the video work The Hard Way to Enlightenment (Dramatization of a lecture on The Academy and the Corporate Public) and transferred to roles played by artists and processes of education.
The video shows Dillemuth in a double role: as a painter who, as a supposedly self-determined, autonomous individual, paints a political motif/subject, and as a prisoner. In the text, the artist sums up his theories on artistic research, bohemia, and self-organization, portraying them as forms of self-empowerment and self-education: collective processes that necessarily resist and turn against the privatization of all public concerns (in this case specially knowledge and education). A goat is added to this dialogical situation as the necessary counter-figure.
Some of Stephan Dillemuths works have an underlying fragile irony. In A Certain Lack of Coherence, he uses Marcel Duchamps Étant donné. The viewer sees the cutting off of the German phallus from the artists own body both through a peephole in the exhibition space and through a keyhole in the door that usually leads to the exhibition space but which has now cut itself off (or seceded) from the Secession.