Nam June Paik, Good Morning Mr. Orwell, 1984, © Estate of Nam June Paik, Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Nam June Paik: I Expose the Music

Nam June Paik liked to describe himself as “the world’s most famous bad pianist,” alluding to the musical and performative element in his work. The exhibition Nam June Paik: I Expose the Music by Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U presents the work of the video art pioneer by focusing on live moments that run like a thread through his artistic career.

The exhibition, which opens on 16 March 2023, shows approximately 100 works, including installations, sculptures, audio and video works, unusual scores, instructions for action and concepts, as well as photographic documents and posters. They illustrate how the audience directly experienced Paik’s performances and was actively involved, whether in a gallery space or in a live television broadcast. For the first time in Germany, the powerful sounds and images of the spatial installation Sistine Chapel (1993) will be shown, which, as an early example of multimedia immersion, stages a remix of Paik’s pop/cultural history.

The exhibition is curated by Rudolf Frieling (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) in close cooperation with Museum Ostwall. It refers to the museum’s collection, which focuses on Fluxus. A central piece in the exhibition is part of the collection, Paik’s key work Schallplatten-Schaschlik (1963/1980), with which visitors could create their own music mix.

Other chapters of the exhibition are devoted to Paik’s collaboration with Charlotte Moorman, for example with the work Oil Drums (1964/1991), his early collaboration with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Originale (1961/1964) and his hitherto little-explored relationship with Dieter Roth. Various interactive works by Paik also involve the audience in this exhibition, for example Random Access (1963) and Participation TV (1969/1982), in which visitors generate electronic sounds or images.

As a continuation of Paik’s work Sinfonie for 20 Rooms (1961), four international artists have been invited to performatively refer to Paik’s work: Annika Kahrs (Germany), Autumn Knight (United States), Aki Onda (Japan) and Samson Young (Hong Kong) will use Paik’s score as inspiration for site-specific works.

Curatorial team: Rudolf Frieling, Christina Danick and Stefanie Weisshorn-Ponert

Museum directors: Regina Selter and Florence Thurmes

The exhibition is sponsored by the Kunststiftung NRW.