Haus Mödrath, Kerpen

February 21, 2021 – March 20, 2022

When We Were Monsters

James Richards

An Exhibition by James Richards

With Tolia Astakhishvili, Albrecht Becker, Christian Friedrich, Bastien Gachet, Isa Genzken, Margarethe Held, Adrian Hermanides, Anne McGuire, Steve Reinke, Rachel Reupke, JX Williams

Known for his provocative and visually seductive moving-image works that collage together a wide range of source material – such as intimate home movies, archival footage, television signals and rich musical soundtracks – James Richards’s work addresses the relentless flow of imagery that has come to define the 21st century, carving out a space where personal politics and digital materiality might meet. Concurrent with filmmaking, Richards has presented numerous exhibition projects informed through archival research as well as through ongoing collaborative exchanges with other artists.

Haus Mödrath – Räume für Kunst presents When We Were Monsters, the largest exhibition by the artist to date. Occupying all four floors of Haus Mödrath, Richards has convened works which spatially and conceptually chime with one another across the numerous rooms. Weaving together Richards’s sound, video works and sculptural works, the show also maps the relationships and influences around the artist’s practice, including a number of collaborative artworks made with long-term interlocutors, artworks by close friends and influential figures.

Central to the exhibition is the presentation of When We Were Monsters, a new film made in collaboration with the artist and writer Steve Reinke. Since 2008, Reinke and Richards have intermittently been exchanging material across the Atlantic to their respective studios in Chicago and Berlin. Assembled during the first European Covid-19 lockdown, When We Were Monstersechoes the molecular porosity and existential vastness that marked this uncertain period.

Throughout the exhibition at large there is a focus on the limits of perception and the frayed edges of individual subjectivity. X-rays, dream-sequences, Ghost portraits and autoerotic collages, the selection charts where the past and present technological capacities of examination and classification become disrupted, or where the monstrous might emerge. Several new works have been made for the exhibition, conceived to echo other works on show or respond parasitically to the house itself. Part anthology and part exquisite corpse, When We Were Monsters relishes the deviations and perversions that appear on closer inspection or when searching for stable meanings. Of what happens when we lean into our desires and find the porous line between inside and outside, self and other, the body and the world.

Text by: Haus Mödrath

Installation view, James Richards, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

Installation view, James Richards, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Rosebud, digital video, 12 min., 2013. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Rosebud, digital video, 12 min., 2013. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Internal Litter, Led, aluminium frame, electrical parts, 210 x 150 mm (each), 2021. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Internal Litter, Led, aluminium frame, electrical parts, 210 x 150 mm (each), 2021. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, The Screens, 35 mm slide installation, four sets of eighty DIA slides (320 slides in total), 2013. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, The Screens, 35 mm slide installation, four sets of eighty DIA slides (320 slides in total), 2013. Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021

James Richards, Installation view, When We Were Monsters, Haus Mödrath, Kerpen, 2021