Research Fellowship · 2023

Raha Golestani and Konstantin Schönfelder: In the Space of Signs: The Semionaut Günther Uecker

Günther Uecker, Huldigung an Hafez, Werk 17, 2015 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

In their interdisciplinary study, Raha Golestani and Konstantin Schönfelder interpret Günther Uecker’s working method as a process of “performative translation,” borrowing from the French art theorist and curator Nicolas Bourriaud. According to the authors, Uecker acts as a mediator between worlds and medialities, something that becomes particularly clear in his print cycle Homage to Hafez (2015). In it, the artist enters into an intercultural aesthetic “encounter” with the work of the 14th century Persian poet Hafez, quoting and visualizing it. This visualization is anything but conventional and is to be understood as a performance that can be traced on three different levels: linguistic, medial, and cultural. Thus, according to Golestani and Schönfelder’s thesis, in his performative practice Uecker carries out the turning away he himself calls for—away from an essentializing fixation, which, especially in dealing with “exotic” symbols and within postcolonial discourses, is also becoming increasingly important in the field of aesthetics.

Raha Golestani

Raha Golestani (b. 1993) is a Tehran-born interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and art educator. She lives in Frankfurt am Main. Golestani holds a BFA in Painting (University of Tehran) and an MA in Aesthetics (Goethe University Frankfurt). She obtained her master’s degree in 2022 with a Goethe Goes Global scholarship and a thesis on the art of the Persian diaspora. She is currently researching the entanglements of Exoticism and Self-Exoticism in contemporary art on a doctoral scholarship at Goethe University. Her cultural work includes stints at the Rooberoo Mansion Cultural Institute in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Tehran, the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, and the Frankfurt School of Painting.

Konstantin Schönfelder

Konstantin Schönfelder (b. 1994) is a freelance writer living in Frankfurt am Main. After studying Political Science in Leipzig and Washington, D.C., he earned a master’s degree in Political Theory at Goethe University Frankfurt. Parallel to his studies, he underwent journalistic training as part of a scholarship. He is the Artistic Director of the digital cultural project PRÄPOSITION, which works towards a new orchestration of text and language. In 2021, his volume of essays Gesellschaft Eine Insel won the prize as one of the “Most Beautiful German Books” from the Stiftung Buchkunst. His other works include literary radio features for the German National Public Radio as well as text publications (Neue Rundschau, Reportagen Magazin, etc.).