Music videos are reflections of our times and an integral aspect of our contemporary culture; accessible everywhere, produced worldwide, they are an essential component of the global entertainment industry. They are also a world of their own in their unique fusion of film, music, art, dance, and contemporary issues. Exploring this world is the aim of this major exhibition on the past and present of the music video at the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site.
Music videos are comprehensive works of art set to a beat, a special creative platform for musicians, film directors, artists, designers, and choreographers. From January 22 to October 16, 2022, THE WORLD OF MUSIC VIDEO at the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site offers an in-depth look at this fascinating and hybrid form of creative expression—both opulent and deliberate in one.
It is not just a matter of musical and cinematic quality, but also of burning issues: artificial intelligence, climate change, gender issues of all kind, as well as political, psychological, and physical violence. The result is an expansive and unparalleled panorama of the genre of music video.
"Here at the world heritage site, more than eighty of the most fascinating music videos of the last years and decades condense into a magnificent study and showcase of the art form. Our aim is emotional and intellectual inspiration; a truly physical experience is guaranteed in this veritable cosmos of music videos," says Dr. Ralf Beil, General Director of the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site and curator of the exhibition. "Your eyes will be all ears!"
The exhibition venue in itself is already unique: the faithfully restored blower hall with compressor station, now free of all carpeting and fixtures, is a congenial setting for the projection of the music-based works: over sixty large screens spanning up to seven meters across are found between the huge machines, complemented by monitors in the more intimate niches. And those who have the nerve can look or descend into the netherworld of the cleared shafts, where videos of more drastic content are screened.
Alongside visually radical videos like the one directed by Romain Gavras for the song "Stress," by the music duo Justice, numerous ironic, playful, and humorous contributions such as "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish are also to be found. And thanks to the innate synergy between the unique, historical aura of the blower hall and the modern-day multimedia scenery, THE WORLD OF MUSIC VIDEO is one of the most unusual exhibitions that the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site has realized to date.
Music videos are neither pure art nor pure commerce. Ironically enough, the anti-anthem "Smells like Teen Spirit" and its low-budget video, done in the spirit of punk rock, made Nirvana superstars. This bittersweet punchline of pop music history already reveals the extent that music videos are inextricably interwoven with the cultural industry and its worldwide successes. Advertising becomes art, as evident by Spike Jonze's "Mutant Brain" video for Kenzo World.
At the same time, important visual artists such as Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys ("Sonne statt Reagan"—or: "Sun instead of Reagan"), Yoko Ono, or Andy Warhol are also pioneers of the crossover medium. The Afro-American celebrity duo The Carters, in turn, take on the masterpieces of high culture found in the Louvre in the video to their song "Apeshit." Whether making reference to Hieronymus Bosch, a landfill in Africa, or the one-minute sculptures of Erwin Wurm, at its best the genre of music video can play virtuously with any topic and theme.
the Multimedia Guide provides information on all the music videos / Automatic sound synchronisation in front of screens / Pick-up function in front of monitors / Included in the admission price Headphones with hygiene cover included / You are welcome to bring your own headphones with cable (3.5 mm jack plug)
Public guided tours through the exhibition
Saturday 3 pm / Sunday 11.30 am
Included in the admission price.
Special guided tours for groups
(max. 30 persons, approx. 1.5 hrs.) 110 € plus
reduced admission of 15 € per person
Registration at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guided tours can also be booked before 10 am for schools and groups.
The World Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte is largely barrier-free.
The exhibition will be accompanied in March 2022 by the catalogue of the same name, published by the Hatje Cantz Verlag, edited by Ralf Beil, designed by KomaAmok: 448 pages, 32 x 24 cm, soft cover, German and English edition.
With essays by Daniel Bauer, Ralf Beil, Henry Keazor, Swantje Lichtenstein and Heike Sperling as well as texts on each music video by numerous experts. Until the publication date of the catalogue a subscription price of €30 applies in the analogue and digital museum shop of the World Heritage Site, after that the catalogue costs €48 in the World Heritage Site, €58 in bookshops.
Numerous live concerts – especially by artists whose music videos can be experienced in the show – will accompany the exhibition. On 28 May, the Russian punk rock band PUSSY RIOT will play in the Blower Hall of the Word Heritage Site. The feminists and activists achieved worldwide attention by their antigovernment and anti-church “Punk Prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February 2012. As a result of this action, lasting only 41 seconds, the three band members were arrested and sentenced to imprisonment. The concert is taking place in cooperation with the Villa Lessing – Liberale Stiftung Saar.
In June, we hope to welcome the Canadian electroclash singer and cult performer PEACHES as a guest at the Völklinger Hütte. She has been using this pseudonym, taken from a song by Nina Simone, since the year 2000. Her provocative stage shows paved the way for the electroclash movement and at the same time she composes rock operas and works as a performance artist. Further concerts are planned, including one with the German rap crew GENETIKK. Their home base is the Studio Factory in Saarbrücken, and in 2021 they produced their music video "Vielleicht" at the Völklinger Hütte.