February 12 – April 23, 2023




Opening: Sunday, 12 February, 11 am


The exhibition is the centrepiece of a tripartite project consisting of exhibition, printed catalogue raisonné (DING), and magazine (DONG).


DING contains a retrospective without commentary covering thirty years of work by the photographer Axl Jansen with journeys, encounters, stories, fashion, style, and a great deal of subversive humour – a massive flow of images squeezed between the covers of a single book. In its remarkable enormity, DING anticipates Instagram; but the catalogue raisonné, containing more than eleven hundred pages, is quite a thing in itself, huge and heavy.


Out of the DING Axl Jansen and the designer and publisher Uli Schwinge create in cooperation with the team of Villa Merkel a new space. En masse and as a measure of all things, DING discharges its contents into the exhibition spaces, which are conceived of as a walk-in photo magazine, as a fanzine available to be experienced.



DONG is play. Ding – Dong. Play with sounds, with words, with meaning, with nonsense and flashing recognitions. DingDong – DaDa. The project plays with fashion, pop, and surfaces; it samples humour and depth. The magazine Dong, which appeared semiannually between 2004 and 2008, offered an ironical answer to the slick and glib fashion magazines of those years. It followed its own rules and invented itself as an autonomous space in which emotional affect and cognitive self-reflection go hand-in-hand. The breaking with conventions, the bringing together of opposites gives rise to flashes of insight and makes the play of DONG cool and humorous.