With sadness we mourn the passing, and honour the life, of Peter Weibel, the colourful, larger-than-life fixture of the European and international world of art.
This is the man who was Valie Export’s famous dog-on-a-leash in the famed action-art piece “From the Portfolio of Doggedness” (1968) but also a musician, a theorist and, above all, a curator and institution-builder. He made the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe one of the world’s foremost museums.
Mr. Weibel did not only speak about activism and art but also was a person of real action.
“Where would you go if the world fell apart…?”
A few weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, Artists at Risk (AR) and the ZKM | Karlsruhe co-organised the conference “Institutions and Resistance — Alliances for Artists at Risk” with the above phrase as a headline. Mr. Weibel was always willing to make bold statements. He proposed that each art institution — and the ZKM first of all — start a “department” for artists at risk. ZKM had hosted AR-Residents before, but after the war broke out this is really what ZKM did.
Earlier, Mr. Weibel had penned letters to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs — triggering media pressure to bring movement into the paralysed visa process for Afghan artists at risk fleeing the Taliban.
Philipp Ziegler, working tirelessly alongside Mr. Weibel, carrying out and augmenting his vision for many years, has been one of our most engaged supporters.
In this time of sadness, we are grateful to know that ZKM will carry on the engagement for artists at risk under its new leadership. The new director Alistair Hudson, appointed last year, has already shown his clear engagement in the difficult work of helping artists under threat.
The seed has grown to become a tree.
Thank you Peter Weibel!