02.06.2017 – 15.10.2017
Cults are a fundamental part of human existence. From cultic worship in the shape of religious rituals, to the Werther cult, and to omnipresent star cults they have always held a great fascination and have drawn many followers due to their allure. As collective rituals of veneration, cults kindle a sense of community.
One hundred years after the death of national hero Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin and 80 years after the tragic misadventure of the LZ 129 Hindenburg at Lakehurst, the Zeppelin Museum is exploring the historical phenomenon of cults in society, politics, religion, and popular culture in its extensive summer exhibition KULT! – Legenden, Stars und Bildikonen (CULT! Legends, Stars, and Visual Icons).
The first part of the exhibition analyses the heroic, sacral, and ironic aspects of the airship’s presentation over the course of 100 years in an array of objects and media. From cocktail shakers to propaganda with Zeppelins in the bomb war, from children’s toys to condom advertisements, from imperial and patriotic marches to Led Zeppelin’s debut album, from stamps to Battlefield I: The Zeppelin is a cult – to this day.
The second part of the show is dedicated to present-day cults seen through the eyes of contemporary artists. In their examinations of the Zeppelin legend (Kenneth Anger, Christoph Giradet, Aby Warburg), the artists lay emphasis on the mechanisms of cults in society, politics, and popular culture. Besides the cultification of stars and fans (Candice Breitz, Josh Kline), events and places (Julius von Bismarck), the rituals surrounding cults (Benedikt Hipp, Johannes Paul Raether, Jeremy Shaw) play a central role in these works. Many of the works on display show that cults can also develop subversive powers, which disrupt cultifications and oppose established conventions. The artists reflect on the rededication and reinterpretation of political cults (Halil Altindere, Yael Bartana, Aleksandra Domanović), and on the prevention of the emergence of cult sites (Dani Gal).
The exhibition shows that the development of cults is a widespread and influential phenomenon on all levels of society. Cults generate a sense of community and stability in times of insecurity and global change – but also harbour the potential to enhance conformity, and hence, to deprive individuals of power.
Halil Altindere, Kenneth Anger, Yael Bartana, Julius von Bismarck, Candice Breitz, Aleksandra Domanović, Dani Gal, Christoph Girardet, Benedikt Hipp, Josh Kline, Johannes Paul Raether, Jeremy Shaw, Aby Warburg
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