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A negative test or a prove of vaccination or recovery is required for a visit.


September 5th 2021 – November 14th 2021


Fiction? Better than Reality!

Opening: Sunday, 05 September 2021, 11 am

Jacqueline Forzelius, Gabriela Friðriksdóttir, Rachel Maclean, Laurel Nakadate, Lucy Pawlak, Laure Prouvost, Mika Rottenberg and Sabrina Torelli

The exhibition ‘Fiction? Better than Reality!’ presents various positions of contemporary art exploring the dynamic field between reality and the symbolic worlds of the divergent and the foreign. The selected works focus on transitions, metamorphoses, transcendence and threshold experiences. What narrative means are employed to describe the unknown? What contradictory relationship exists between everyday experiences and fictitious, narrational contents? What attempts are made to undermine customary patterns of storytelling? Disrupting habitual narrative structures is turned into a veritable discipline. The artistic productions on display resist linear interpretations and are replete with breaks, fragments and contradictions. Through a multiplicity of artistic approaches ranging from surreal staging past thematisation of the interpersonal realm all the way to spiritual activities, a broad spectrum is opened up for an investigation of these areas.

The works thereby unfold their poetical character and indicate a path into another world. The selected works include videos, performance, drawings and spatial installations; they give contentual expression to the borders between fiction and reality, between the visible and the invisible. How much reality is actually contained in fiction? Does there exist in this context a function whereby we are easily disposed to give ourselves over to utopias and dystopias? The selected works of art point to borders as well as to transitions between fiction and reality, between what we can see and what remains hidden from view.

Lucy Pawlak, We Eat the Earth / The Earth Eats Us, 2016, VideostillRachel Maclean, It's What's Inside That Counts, 2016

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

Since  May 18th, 2014


Lois Weinberger – Mobiler Garten

The ‘Mobile Garden’ of the artist and Documenta participant Lois Weinberger, was set up in front of the winter garden of the Villa Merkel, where it will remain for an extended time. In its wildness, it contrasts with the surrounding Merkelpark, whose well-kept greenery is reminiscent of English landscape gardens.

A field formed out of yellow plastic tubs filled with soil has been exposed to the free forces of nature. Over time, pioneer and ruderal plants have come to occupy the space in a spontaneous colonisation. Nature unfolds in accordance with the dynamism of its own laws in a veritably paradisal, because free manner. A Garden of Eden established itself.

Over the years, this natural process of colonisation began to change into a form of decaThe tubs gradually become bleached and decompose. The plastic particles blend with the soil and the plants; after decades, rainfall can be expected to have washed the underlying area clean again.


The garden is a fundamental form of our encounter with nature. We are familiar with gardens that aim at producing crops as well as those that are set up as beatific sites of contemplation. Affinities with paradise are possessed by the fruit and vegetable garden, the Baroque pleasure garden or, as an oasis amid the city, the public garden – in Esslingen, namely the Maille and the Merkelpark.

Lois Weinberger wässert den 'Mobilen Garten (2014)', Foto: Daniela WolfLois Weinberger, Mobiler Garten, 2014Lois Weinberger, Mobiler Garten, 2014 (Foto 2018)