Im Rahmen des Familienfestes der Tonhalle entwickelte Theater El Fayoum zusammen mit Simon Rummel (Komposition, Piano) und Rie Watanabe (Schlagzeug) sowie vier MusikerInnen der Düsseldorfer Symphoniker das Stück „Waldgeflüster“. Das Bühnenbild ist von Ulrike Kessl.

Tonhalle Düsseldorf

Aufführung am 20.06.2021 um 11.00 Uhr

Waldgeflüster, Bühnenbild


still alive

still alive

still alive

Mail Art von Mitgliedern des Deutschen Künstlerbundes

Eröffnung: Donnerstag, 08.07.2021, 19 Uhr

Dauer: 09.07.2021 bis 03.09.2021

Deutscher Künstlerbund




In Zusammenarbeit mit Johannes Sandberger zeige ich die multimediale Installation „In Präsenz und Abwesenheit“ (Video, Sound, Zeichnung, Objekt)

Friedrichsstrasse 25
34117 Kassel

16. Juli bis 26. September 2021

Die Künstlerliste und weitere Informationen unter:


Fliegende Stühle

Fliegende Stühle

Kunst-Radroute „FahrArt“

Fliegende Stühle, De Wittsee, Nettetal

Am Wittsee 25
41334 Nettetal-Leuth

Die Skulptur „Fliegende Stühle“ ist Teil der Kunst-Radroute „FahrArt“, Mai 2021- Mai 2023

Leistende Landschaft e.V.
ULRIKE KESSL, Fliegende Stühle, 2021

Der Traum vom Wohnen

Der Traum vom Wohnen

Der Traum vom Wohnen

Museum Ratingen, 7. Mai – 1. November 2021

KünstlerInnen: Hörner/Antlfinger, Ulrike Kessl, Neringa Naujokaite, Driss Ouahadi, Veronika Peddinghaus

Museum Ratingen
Grabenstrasse 21
40878 Ratingen


ULRIKE KESSL, Zeltkapsel, 2019
ULRIKE KESSL, Ensemble living“ (7teilig), 2021
ULRIKE KESSL, Ensemble living“ (7teilig), 2021

Kunst und KSK II

Kunst und KSK II


kunst raum rottweil, 16. Mai – 19. September 2021

Kriegsdamm 4
78628 Rottweil


Elementary and constructive

Eugen Gomringer, 1999

Elementary and constructive

Observations in the work of Ulrike Kessl

Artistic practice has over the past few years been particularly prolific in the fields of “constructive” and “concrete” ( concrete in the sense of geometrically ) composition – which can perhaps be seen as analogy to an architecture of rather terse forms, but which in any case gains a much greater response in terms of attention and public integration than that normally attributed to it in art publications. On the other hand, an “extrapolating” theory of “constructive art today” does not receive the attention it deserves. Constructivity was no longer a subject of discussion and writing in many disciplines apart from art; it even seemed as if no field of conceptual study could dispense with the term. The work of Ulrike Kessl should not be seen from a constructive perspective – although a new notion of constructivity could perhaps be formulated from her work. Any contemporary notion of constructivity is dominated by the perennial discussion on subjectivity versus objectivity, which is now enjoying new currency due to recent advances in perception studies. It is true that the demands and forms of Constructivism as practiced in the 1920s are aroused quite unobtrusively by her daring perspectives as well as her rather rigid ethos. Otherwise these are a thing of history. This fact should, however, only be mentioned because constructivity is always judged against the backdrop of Constructivism, which would appear quite incongruent with regard to contemporary constructive art. Indeed, even where a “vision of modernism” is founded on the “construction principle”, the vision does not take account of that yielded by constructivity within the framework of the principle, which is, however, no less strict and consistent. Constructivity is not formulated in relation to mathematical stringency or geometrical design. There is, rather, sufficient evidence of constructivity being defined in art practice as a psychological Gestalt factor, and something better classified as “elementary”. If the observer surveys the arrangements by Ulrike Kessl from memory or on the basis of illustrations, he will notice with amazement just how diverse these present themselves in terms of dimension, volume, physicality, in fact as full phenomen. They form a sequence of inventions, partly with spatial reference – as installation – partly as moveable objects. The invention, however, appears to be linked to a certain idea, that can be fundamentally and easily- “elementarily”- transformed. The question arises regarding dominance: which was the decisive factor, the invention based on a certain situation, or the searching, subjective idea for a suitable situation and objectivating possibility? The reply to this questions from the work of Ulrike Kessl can be formulated easily: both procedures are inventions, which may in certain cases be preceded by discovery of a situation, a room presentation, etc. The essence of constructive procedure is thorough its simplicity, a basic recognition of the “assignment” and ultimately the transparency of the creative act. Ulrike Kessl shares such characteristics with not a few colleagues. Her sense for the precise accuracy of a design with a really broad perceptive spectrum allows the observer to enjoy the sequence of her inventions with special attention and keeps him braced for surprises. Constructivity as realized in the work of Ulrike Kessl, without ideological operations as it were, amounts to a new invention of the design subject.

Eugen Gomringer 

Into the magic garden of sculpture

Anne Rodler, 2009

Into the magic garden of sculpture.

The work of Ulrike Kessl

The work of Ulrike Kessl is a constant exploration of the relationship between person and space, between space and body. This concept is felt like a pulse, like a constantly beating heart. And the artist creates in this way with her organic objects a very special cosmos of relationships: her objects penetrate into existing spaces, exploring and transforming them into the interior of an organism. This is contrasted with works that entice us into the most minute structures of the human body or plants, anatomic studies, works of drawing, photographs and textiles, exploring the delicacy of body structures and their inner nature. Whether tissue or cellular structure of living creatures, spatial designs or fabrics of a building – the artist always brings our attention to the anatomic and the architectural.

This catalogue presents Ulrike Kessl’s objects and installations from the years 2001 to 2009 in dialogue with select drawings from her “Organ Garden” group of works (2003), published here for the first time. A garden represents nature as formed by human hand. A place of tamed flowers and plants, it provides us with a refuge, a place of sensuality, of pause, an occasion for observant contemplation. In the garden of organs, nature presents itself in its carefully crafted beauty. The studied, objective appearance of naturalness, however, is deceptive, as the plants here are fused with human organs into fanciful structures. Ulrike Kessl seems to be playing on biological research into genetic engineering, and beyond that on human attempts to dominate and control nature. The artist is at the same time recalling certain medieval notions, and the conceit that formal analogies between plants and human body parts confer related medicinal effects. Through their special enchantment, these creatures bring us into the world of the magic and the surreal.

This creative and imaginative idea can be seen in the spatial object “Playpen” (2001), the form of which corresponds to the two hemispheres of the human brain and which becomes an explorable sculpture for small children at an exhibition. Material experience, mental and physical movement are here contrasted with the visual representation of nerve tracts and cerebral memory cells. Another object amenable to interactive and haptic experience is the seating group “Polströ” (2001), representing an oversized digestive tract.

The palpable surface and the hidden inner structure, skin, organs and skeleton of living creatures and things are taken by Ulrike Kessl and repeatedly combined into different, evocative, combinations. She realises this in her artistic language by means of various collages of defamiliarised objects, materials and pieces of clothing. Cloths are transformed into space, articles of clothing into bodies.

Nylon stockings formed over balloons become, for example, the starting point for objects that suggest first of all inverted female torsos. The artist then composes from these a group of fabulous, brightly coloured creatures with the title “Feerinden” (2008/ 2009), which again raises questions concerning the interior and the exterior. Stability and fragility, covering and volume are also investigated in the work “Skirt Columns” (2003). A series of skirts fixed on top of one another form long columns that separate the room. They evoke architectural elements, the supporting function of which is, however, not fulfilled.

The use of textiles is a recurring leitmotif in the repertoire of the sculptress. She uses them as structuring and colour elements, in which they also become the “material” of the aesthetic experiment. Textile techniques are moreover also transferred to other materials, an idea tangibly rendered in the curtain made of invitation cards (2006). Here, postcards were cut up, mixed and then sewn together again. This curtain served as an element of interior architecture to drape the entrance to the Goethe Institute in Rabat, to which it also directly referred. Visitors had to pass it before entering the exhibition and the rooms of the cultural institute, during which they were also able to read snippets of information from the cards close up. We encounter here the constantly present urge to combine drawings, photographs and layouts with plastic bodies and architectural structures – through physical interaction, the surface is fused into the body, the 2- into the 3-dimensional.

Anne Rodler 

Im magischen Garten der Bildhauerei

Anne Rodler, 2009

Im magischen Garten der Bildhauerei.

Zum künstlerischen Werk von Ulrike Kessl.

Es ist ein ständiges Ausloten des Verhältnisses zwischen Mensch und Raum, zwischen Raum und Körper, das im Werk von Ulrike Kessl erfahrbar ist. Wie ein Puls, wie ein lebendig schlagendes Herz spürt man diese Idee. Und so schafft die Künstlerin mit ihren organischen Objekten einen ganz besonderen, beziehungsreichen Kosmos: Ihre Objekte greifen in vorhandene Räume ein, erforschen sie und können diese in das Innere eines Organismus verwandeln. Demgegenüber stehen bis in den kleinsten Aufbau von Menschen oder Pflanzen vordringende Arbeiten, anatomische Studien, zeichnerische, fotografische und textile Werke, die die Feingliedrigkeit von Körperteilen und deren inneres Wesen untersuchen. Ob Gewebe- oder Zellstruktur von Lebewesen, Raumpläne oder Bausubstanzen eines Gebäudes, stets ist es das Interesse am Anatomischen und Architektonischen, das die Künstlerin voranstellt.

Dieser Katalog zeigt Ulrike Kessls Objekte und Installationen der Jahre 2001 bis 2009 im Dialog mit erstmals publizierten, ausgewählten Zeichnungen aus der Werkgruppe “Organgarten” (2003). Ein Garten assoziiert die von Menschenhand gestaltete Natur. Als Ort der gezähmten Pflanzen dient er dem Rückzug, der menschlichen Sinnenfreude, dem Pausieren und der beobachtenden Kontemplation. Im Garten der Organe präsentiert sich die Natur in einer wunderbar gezeichneten Schönheit. Doch trügt der studienartige, objektive Schein der Natürlichkeit, da die Pflanzen mit menschlichen Organen zu phantastischen Gebilden zusammenwachsen. Ulrike Kessl spielt hier auf die biologische Forschung der Genmanipulation und darüber hinaus auf das menschliche Bestreben, die Natur zu beherrschen und zu steuern, an. Gleichzeitig erinnert die Künstlerin an mittelalterliche Vorstellungen, nach denen von formalen Analogien zwischen Pflanzen und menschlichen Körperteilen auf Heilwirkungen geschlossen wurde. In ihrer Zauberhaftigkeit verweisen diese Kreaturen ins Reich des Magischen und Surrealen.

An die schöpferische Imagination und Vorstellungsgabe knüpft das raumgreifende Objekt „ “Laufstall” (2001) an, dessen Form den beiden menschlichen Gehirnhälften entspricht und das für Kleinkinder innerhalb einer Ausstellung zur begehbaren Skulptur wird. Materielle Erfahrung, geistige und körperliche Bewegung sind so der visuellen Darstellung von Nervenbahnen und Speicherkammern des Gehirns gegenübergestellt. Als interaktives und haptisch erfahrbares Objekt entstand ebenso die Sitzgruppe “Polströ” (2001), die einen überdimensionalen Verdauungstrakt veranschaulicht.

Die fühlbare Oberfläche und die verborgene innere Struktur, Haut, Organe und Skelett von Lebewesen und Dingen führt Ulrike Kessl immer wieder in unterschiedlichen Kombinationen zusammen. In ihrer künstlerischen Bildsprache setzt sie dies mittels verschiedenster Objektcollagen aus verfremdeten Fundstücken, Stoffen und Kleidungsstücken um. Aus Tüchern baut sie Räume, aus Kleidern Körper. Über Luftballons geformte Nylonstrümpfe sind so das Ausgangsmaterial für Objekte, die zunächst umgedrehte weibliche Unterkörper ergeben. Ulrike Kessl bildet aus ihnen eine Gruppe märchenhafter, farbig leuchtender Wesen mit dem Titel „Feerinden“ (2008/ 2009), die erneut nach dem Inneren und Äußeren fragen. Stabilität und Fragilität, Hülle und Volumen hinterfragt auch das Werk “Rocksäulen” (2003). Untereinander befestigte Röcke bilden lange, den Raum trennende Säulen. Sie zitieren Architekturelemente, deren tragende Funktion jedoch nicht erfüllt wird.

Die Verwendung von Textilien zieht sich wie ein Faden durch das Repertoire der Bildhauerin. Diese dienen ihr als form- und farbgebendes Material und werden gleichzeitig zum “Stoff” des künstlerischen Experimentierens. Darüber hinaus werden textile Techniken auf andere Materialien übertragen, wie es in dem Vorhang aus Einladungskarten (2006) greifbar wird. Postkarten wurden hier zerschnitten, vermischt und wieder zusammengenäht. Als innenarchitektonisches Element verhängte dieser Vorhang den Eingang des Goethe-Instituts in Rabat, auf den er sich direkt bezog. Die Besucher mussten ihn passieren, um in die Ausstellung und die Institutsräume zu gelangen, wobei sie aber auch wiederum einzelne Informationen der Karten aus der Nähe lesen konnten.

Es zeigt sich die stets präsente Verbindung von Zeichnungen, Fotografien und Plänen mit plastischen Körpern und architektonischen Gegebenheiten – in Wechselwirkungen wird das Flächige ins Plastische, das Zweidimensionale ins Dreidimensionale geführt.

Anne Rodler 

Measuring, counting, trading, selling


Anja Wiese, 1996

Measuring, counting, trading, selling

– The market is a venue for transaction and interaction and what would it be without the weighing scales as instrument for measuring quantities. An arrangement of scales on the art market as a ground sculpture that can be mounted reverses the role of the instrument into a marketable commodity: just like rugs and carpets, it is sold by the square metre.

In her work for the art fair Kunstmesse Art Cologne, Ulrike Kessl turns the tables: her installation titled “waagen” 1) is not only a self-evident object d’art presented to the assessment and judgement of the public. Viewers of the work rather become participants as soon as they become physically aware of and responsive to the object they have mounted. The work is not perceived from a distant perspective, but rather does the viewer’s body become a central and essential object of perception.

The personal weighing scales used for this work differ in their contemporary form and colour, their design. As functional instruments they are evidence of the collective stylistic preference of their time and their individual utilisation in private households. Each item bears witness to its distinct history and the people that used it in their daily lives. More than any other domestic instrument, the weighing scales represents a culture of body control. Its place is the bathroom, its function the individualised monitoring of change in body weight. What was originally an indispensable instrument of trading, the weighing scales in this century came to be used by people to gauge and control themselves. In the post-war period in Germany, it became an attribute of economic growth, in the course of which moderation and proportion were manifest in surplus and excess.

In “waagen” Ulrike Kessl renounces all personal signature.After the initial creative inventiveness, her artistic activity involves a collection and arrangement of existing objects. Just as the individual weighing scales is a non-determing element of the installation, the artist is an archaeologist withdrawn into her immediate individuality. The sequential arrangement of the scales that – although different – all perform the same function, i.e. weighing, contradicts the anecdotal-narrative element that makes the visible functionality of these used objects accessible. The neatly arranged variety of objects decreases the significance of the individual element. Each individual item is simply a replaceable part of the whole.

People using scales to monitor their physical development weigh themselves by assigning a finite weight to their bodies as volume and mass. They thus also reduce themselves to their material contents of bone, organs and skin. Because weighing reduces all people to the lowest common denominator, their body weight in kilograms and pounds, it also underlines human equality in this very physical essence. Ulrike Kessl does not make a theme of the body as medium and object of the senses, but sees it in its essential materiality. This physical reductionism is not surprising in an artist who for many years has been exploring modes of representation for mass, weight and volume.

The fact that the visitor can mount the work “waagen” allows an interactive relationship to develop between him and the installation within the preordained framework of the game, with the state of the work being changed by the presence of the visitors. The sculpture thus has an active state and an inactive idle state. As participant in an artistic measuring process on the arranged balancing scales, the visitor experiences weighing as an elementary-mechanical interaction. The force exerted by weight on the scales is reflected by the noisy swing of their display indicators. But this trace left by our steps soon vanishes, and the game we were allowed to play swings back to the starting position.

Ulrike Kessl’s work “waagen” unfolds a dialectic of similarity versus variety, of individuality versus uniformity, of freedom versus determination. The individual play made possible by the visitor’s participation in the work, the fun of weighing oneself and balanced walking, is contrasted with measurement and weighing, reaction to material presence. Weighing involves a distancing from oneself by reducing the body to its mere weight, and just as all scales are the same, all people are the same when on this instrument; by virtue of their common materiality and weight they lose their individuality. “Waagen” moreover contrasts the lesser significance of the every-day household object used as installation material with the higher significance of the scales as symbol of justice. This work shows – and the truths that persist are always simple truths – that all people have weight. It shows that we are of weight: In this vital materiality we are all equal by having a body that weighs, grows up and grows ill and deteriorates.

Amid the bustle of the market, the artist reminds us that, in the final analysis, we cannot make assessments according to weight. The scales are a just instrument in this endeavour, that permit this valuation even when the eyes are blinded. Ulrike Kessl’s installation playfully weighs up that which is hidden to imperfect insight behind a deceptive surface: the value of the commodity art.

Anja Wiese

1) scales;

2) Space prohibits any further examination of this point here;

3) French “Balancer”: to hold in balance, swing, contemplate/examine, and “Labalance”: the scale

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