Opening: Friday, 24.6.2022, 6 pm
Press Preview: Thursday, 23.6.2022, 9.30–11 am (registration via Mira Starke: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Asad Raza’s new work Diversion redirects the river through Portikus and invites the public to interact with and dip in the waters of the Main.
The river is a key protagonist in the planetary water cycle—channeling earth’s circulation of water from mountain to brook, from ocean and to cloud. As a source of energy flows, fertility, and new life, the river is often understood as a powerful deity or person, holding historical, economical, socio-political, and emotional importance. In response to Portikus’ unique location on Frankfurt’s Main island, artist Asad Raza’s new work Diversion reflects on the many facets that rivers carry. In an evocative waterscape that spans the entire exhibition space, visitors encounter a continuous stream of the Main diverted through the gallery and flowing back to the current.
At the heart of Raza’s practice is the creation of experiences and dialogues. In Diversion, the audience is invited to interact with, dip in, and drink purified water from the river. As in many of the artist’s works, human exchange is an integral part of this piece. Custodians, who Raza cast on site, wander with the visitor, explaining scientific facts, telling stories, and carrying out daily rituals, such as monitoring the water quality, analyzing its development, filtering, and remineralizing quantities of it. By bringing together the processual and the relational, the artist emphasizes in this piece the interdependence of humans and their environment.
The notion of transformation—of knowledge and substance—is highlighted by various materials used in the gallery and by actions occurring throughout the exhibition. While logs of charcoal are made by burning sticks gathered on the island, a sandbank recalls how stones crush against each other, alluding to natural and industrial processes of alteration, which are both central aspects of evolution. The filtered sediments collected from the channel provide vital nutrients for the plants to live and grow in the gallery. Inspired by the image of the river delta, all elements are connected like arteries and feeding on each other. Diversion forms an ecosystem, which the artist describes as a metabolism—the synergy of human, plant, and mineral life. Using common materials, such as newspapers, picnic tables, pipes and pitchers, Raza imagines an environment of collective memory, creating a place of gathering and contemplation. In this sense, the title, Diversion, alludes both the literal detour of the Main through Portikus and to the urgency of steering away from the course.
Diversion is accompanied by an artist newspaper edited by Asad Raza and Mathew Hale, with contributions by Liberty Adrien, Arhun Aksakal, Sophia Al-Maria, Shane Anderson, Carina Bukuts, Keren Cytter, Manthia Diawara, Emily Dickinson, Olivia Fairweather, Dan Graham, Rufus Hale, Catalina Imizcoz, Prem Krishnamurthy, Wolfram Lotz, Adéla Součková, Joe Stahlmann, Elsa Stanyer, Bones Tan Jones, and more. The newspaper is designed by Studio Pandan and co-published by X Artists’ Books, Los Angeles.
Curated by Liberty Adrien and Carina Bukuts
Diversion is made possible by the support from Hessische Kulturstiftung, Kulturamt der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, and Städelschule Portikus e.V.. Additional support is provided by Oase.