ULRIKE KOLB | Die Vollzähligkeit der Sterne

Opening: Friday, 12.02.2016, 7 pm

Exhibition: 13.02.–12.03.2016

Finissage: Saturday, 12.03.2016, 3 pm


The exhibition’s title Die Vollzähligkeit der Sterne is also the title of an anthology by philosopher Hans Blumenberg. That phrasing Blumenberg considered a “poet’s rebuke” toward Goethe, describing it as “the quiet and tentative call for soberness as opposed to exuberance, if not infatuation”.1 Ulrike Kolb’s pictures she presents in this exhibition oscillate precisely between these two poles, that on the one side of soberness and on the other of romanticism, or sentimentality.


Ulrike Kolb shows interiors of universities, libraries, and museums. The selected spaces are united in that they serve research, teaching, and the distribution of knowledge. Associatively, the interior views are linked with photographs of exhibits. Both the spaces photographed and the museum stagings have in common their architecture and design from bygone days. Ulrike Kolb describes one impulse to this work as the wish to capture these spaces and objects photographically, to preserve them before they vanish forever.


What is outstanding for Ulrike Kolb about these spaces for science, and the museum objects, are the multiple references they allow for.

 Thus these objects, these finds from another age, always indicate their original context. At the same time the objects’ staging informs on the practice of showing, and the state of knowledge of their times.


Scientific models depict reality by reducing the plethora of information to particular aspects. In a planetarium, for instance, the firmament is projected upon the inside of a dome. The projector may render the stars’ movements at any given time and for any geographical location. The seemingly infinite number of stars turns countable.


Despite the festive lighting, Ulrike Kolb’s interiors appear uninhabited. Traces of academic work, or student life, are lacking. Reading desks, empty bulletin boards, a number on a door are reticent, unspecific indicators of the rooms’ utilisation.


As already in previous series, Ulrike Kolb creates subtle, poetic, yet austere compositions the viewer startles at. It is not always obvious whether their content is made up of built models, or photographs. But it is exactly this interplay which informs the appeal of these works.

 The museum presentations themselves adopt design media we know from visual arts, and therefore open up a field for art historical reference. In Ulrike Kolb’s painterly photographs, a museum presentation of Bronze Age oil vessels thus turns into a still life by Morandi.


German-language original text by Anna Lehmann-Brauns


1. Blumenberg, Hans. Die Vollzähligkeit der Sterne. Frankfurt am Main, 2011: 17. Print.

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