Helke Bayrle (1941–2022)
Last week we lost a dear friend, the artist Helke Bayrle passed away at age 81.
Since 1992 Helke Bayrle has—on her own initiative—documented the installing of exhibitions at Portikus with her video camera. What first started as a personal documentation of the artists preparing their shows in the museum, soon turned into the unique archive Portikus Under Construction.
Her films go beyond the documentary by providing subjective, intimate observations of the artists and of the creative process of individual installations. A playful and thought-provoking working process that created various short films from hours of material characterizes her practice. It is the continuity and the openness of her approach that make Helke Bayrle’s films unique. Over the course of 30 years, she captured over 200 exhibitions in progress.
Helke Bayrle will be kept in loving memory by the whole community of Portikus and Städelschule.
The community of artists, alumni and students close to Portikus and Städelschule have for several decades enjoyed the great fortune of knowing the artist Helke Bayrle. In her existential project 'Portikus Under Construction' she portrayed generations of artists and their work, offering us a meditation on the public dimension of art and a wealth of insights on how our presence and engagement offer agency and hope. She was a filmmaker of the creative process who never missed the chance to affirm its potential and promise. We will miss her deeply.
Yasmil Raymond, Director Portikus and Rector Städelschule
Many exhibitions are forgotten. But Helke once said it was important to remember, especially in an age with overflowing masses of information. Her archive was also a protest against forgetting.
Daniel Birnbaum & Hans Ulrich Obrist in FAZ, September 21, 2022
They are fantastic contemporary documents from today's perspective, and as is always the case with eyewitnesses, you only really appreciate them in all their dimensions in retrospect, not while it's happening. Who would have thought in 1993 that the young man on his knees carefully assembling an oversized photograph on paper by the edges with his thumb, that this friendly guy in a plaid shirt listening to chansons and chorales while working, would be having a solo show at MoMA exactly 30 years later. Wolfgang Tillmans felt comfortable in Helke Bayrle's presence.
Silke Hohmann in Monopol, September 21, 2022