Over the course of her career, the sculptor Bärbel Schulte Kellinghaus has often focused on the human skull. In addition to the references it makes to art history, the skull presents her with concrete sculptural challenges which she must measure up to. She is required to simultaneously present her arguments with both the invisible volumes and the visible remains of a human being; this allows her the opportunity of creating moments of great artisanal precision.

In her action ASYL FÜR EINEN SCHÄDEL [Asylum for a Skull], however, she deliberately violates borders which she has always accepted up to now. Surprisingly, she is daring to take a step into external space at the very point in time when the protective space of the museum is becoming increasingly important for the articulation of free democratic discourse. On the parking lot of the museum, she exposes her sculpture to another reality – the reality of the street, which adheres to other laws, narratives and perceptual modes than does the museum.

The marble skull is lying in the boot of the artist’s own box wagon car. Utterly exposed yet extremely self-confident, it shows us that in the end, art always reminds us of a truth with ultimate validity – the unavoidability of death. With her work, the artist achieves something that is almost impossible: She transforms the historical memento mori into a contemporary, highly relevant statement.


Exhibition view, Barbara Schulte Kellinghaus, Carrara IV/VIII, 2017, © IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art