On Corpus Christi (Thu. 8.6.2023) Villa Merkel is open for you from 11 am - 6 pm. We are looking forward to your visit!

May 13th –  July 16th, 2023


Julika Rudelius the days of the bullies


Opening: Friday, May 12th 2023, 7 pm the days of the bullies presents a selection of works from the last 20 years by video artist Julika Rudelius (*1968) and is designed as a thematic retrospective of her artistic work. The focus is on the depiction of the human psyche and the respective self-image in various social situations, as well as on the effects of patriarchal structures on all our social actions. Rudelius began documenting the thought and behaviour patterns of often male youths and adults as early as the beginning of the 2000s. Sometimes seemingly intimate, sometimes almost frighteningly honest, they share their attitudes, opinions as well as sexual fantasies and confirm the viewers in what they already suspected of them - an interaction of external and self-perception that formulates a self-image and at the same time creates a reflection of the viewers in the subject. Through staged intimacy, unfiltered opinions and a presumed truth, familiar prejudices seem to be given a stage. However, this is done in order to demonstrate their social, cultural and political influence and their dangerous effectiveness, and at the same time to undermine them. As much as the protagonists in Rudelius' work become a projection screen for our own views, attitudes and prejudices, they are also only a product of this order.

Julika Rudelius lives and works in Amsterdam as well as Cologne and has already worked in the USA and China. Wherever she lives, she observes and documents her environment. A group of boys on a train in Amsterdam talking about girls or the human affection for weapons - scenes that catch her eye, irritate or disturb her, she reconstructs with subtle manipulation of the setting and the spoken word so that her videos oscillate between documentary and fiction and yet present a familiar, if sometimes cruel, reality. In the development of Rudelius' work in recent years, the view of structures moulded by patriarchal systems becomes more intense, more intimate and at the same time more general. Gestures, facial expressions and language that are affirming and frightening, familiar and yet alienating, at the same time empowering viewers to see their relationship to themselves and the world in the larger context of a system in which the power of despotic figures and so-called bullies, as well as hierarchical structures, become more visible. the days of the bullies is not only an exhibition, but also an open discussion space. Coupled with guided tours, lectures and a thematic selection of works from the Graphic Collection of the City of Esslingen, the visit invites an exchange about one's own conditioning as well as patterns of thought and behavior.


Curated by Johannes Kaufmann

With the kind support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Please note: The works shown in this exhibition address content in the context of power, its language, domination, sexuality, weapons, and the margins of abuse.

Since February 2019




Augmented Reality

by Barbara Herold

In the app BELLE & APHRODITE for smartphone or tablet, it is possible to experience a walk-in audio-visual metamorphosis of virtual plants.

The 3D plant BELLE extends across the entire Merkelpark. As an interactive form-cloud, it leads visitors, on the basis of data regarding their location and movement, to a virtual rose at the centre of the park.

APHRODITE was designed for the skylit atrium. In recurrent audio-visual loops, the 3D installation develops into a Phalaenopsis, a familiar type of orchid. APHRODITE can be viewed from all perspectives and, in its overlapping of simulation space and actual space, plays with the experience of abstraction, proportional relationships, proximity and distance.

Barbara Herold (*1977) directs her attention to the shaping of reality through the media. She investigates structures and phenomena which have established themselves through the influence of media technology on society; she develops her own systems on the basis of prevalent design practices such as computation and algorithms. Her works arise in the dynamic field between analogue and digital technology.



App Store & Google Play Store

Barbara Herold BELLE & APHRODITE, Seit Februar 2019