RADAR: Verena Issel


„Aset in Tadmor“

21 July - 18 September 2016

OpeningThursday, 21 July 2016 at 7pm at Westfälischer Kunstverein
VenueGalerie der Gegenwart, window display

LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and Westfälischer Kunstverein have invited the Hamburg based artist Verena Issel to stage the fourth exhibition in their RADAR series. “Aset in Tadmor” is an installation, especially developed by the artist for the jointly run project, which exploits the scale of the display window to the full. The plate glass functions as a fourth wall, transforming what is normally an accessible exhibition space into a showcase to be viewed exclusively from outside.

Inside, the colour pink dominates the walls. A variety of constructions and objects distributed within the exhibition space are turned to address the viewer; they relate formally to display window decoration, stage design and architectural façades. The surfaces, propped up vertically, inevitably evoke the façades attached to the buildings in Münster’s Prinzipalmarkt. Verena Issel has similarly mounted imitation architecture, fabricated from polystyrene foam, as well as other elements from a variety of materials, such as brown plastic flowerpots, to the primarily pale grey and pastel coloured wooden components. Their fugitive character is a contrast to what they represent: ancient pillar forms, pottery shards, archways and solid walls. Object and meaning don’t fall into one, all is merely façade. The scene, additionally illuminated by spotlights, is somewhat reminiscent of an antique site that has been refurbished for tourists, whilst at the same time there are other loose shards flying about, making the wooden elements look more like targets, the display also becomes a battleground, sarcasm snaking its way through the pink space.

Issues concerning the transience of historic buildings and the ruins of ancient cultures, the treatment of destroyed sites, their possible reconstruction and the safekeeping of objects in museums percolate through the plate glass. The title of the exhibition is Verena Issel’s particular play on the current unrest and civil wars rocking the Middle East: “Aset” is the Middle Egyptian name for Isis, the mother goddess in the religion of ancient Egypt. Depending on interpretation she is associated with either destruction or reconstruction. The name “Tadmor”, deriving from ancient Arabic, in contrast still denotes the ancient desert city of Palmyra in Syria. The double meaning of Isis, the first self-proclaimed Islamic state (ISIS: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and its responsibility for the destruction of most parts of the temple complex in Palmyra was the point of departure for the artist’s explorations.

In her pictorial language and sombre title Verena Issel’s assessment of the detrimental consequences of the destruction of ancient sites is a bittersweet one. In addition, the benefit of European distance has enabled a rather nonchalant questioning of the instrumentation, displacement and restoration of historic cultural monuments in other countries and consequently notions of social identity.


Verena Issel (*1982) lives and works in Hamburg. She studied fine art at Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg together with classical philology (Latin and ancient Greek) at Universität Hamburg. Travel grants and artist in residence programmes have led her to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Lithuania and Papua New Guinea, amongst other destinations. 


The exhibition is curated by Jenni Henke and Marijke Lukowicz. 


Ill.: Verena Issel "Aset in Tadmor", 2016 | installation view Galerie der Gegenwart | Photo: LWL/Hanna Neander 



A cooperation by LWL-State Museum and Westfälischer Kunstverein.


RADAR is an exhibition series by LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and Westfälischer Kunstverein. It showcases the work of younger and less well-known artists that are receiving attention and beginning to appear on the “radar”. The works on display provide an insight into the artist’s current concerns.

With the support of 

Public Programme

Thursday, 21 July 2016 at 7pm
at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Rothenburg 30, 48143 Münster

Kunstpause with Marijke Lukowicz
Thursday, 11 August 2016 at 12.30pm

Guided Tour
Friday, 12 August at 7pm

Artist Talk
Thursday, 15 September 2016 at 7pm
„Palmyra is everywhere“
Open dialogue between artist Verena Issel and archaeologist Luisa Goldammer (University of Münster)
at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Rothenburg 30, 48143 Münster

> Slideshow