1 Feb – 30 May 2010

Doktor Faustus

Gijs Assmann, Gijs Frieling, Menso Groeneveld, Natasja Kensmil, Paul Klemann, Axel Linderholm, Joris Lindhout, Charlotte Schleiffert, Dick Tuinder

“It’s not my job to have ideas – that’s better left to others; I read books by poets and philosophers, see images and that’s what I draw and paint.”

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From Monday 1 February until Friday 2 April the walls of W139 will be painted with scenes, images and characters from Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus. On 12 February 1949 Mann wrote to Albert Oppenheimer: “The hero of the novel, Leverkühn, is an unusually prideful, distant and gifted individual, far too clever for the arts, but who nonetheless fulfils a creative urge and with this, requires unrestraint which, in the idealised framework of the book, can be delivered only by evil. From a more political perspective, his demise mirrors the intoxication of the people by Fascism.”

A novel of great complexity, Doctor Faustus is also a treatise on how art and, with it, the artist, has become autonomous. How it broke away from religious and collective bounds to become a domain accessible only to the isolated individual and how, in this state of permanent self-reflection, erodes the artist’s creative powers.

Various strands of my curatorship and artistic practice converge in this plan: the wish to paint W139 from head to toe at least once; the wish to be instrumental in a collaboration between different artists who transcend the obligatory reference to a shared theme and the endeavour to vanquish the wondrous fear of illustration that has held the visual arts captive for over a century.

Gijs Frieling

W139 will be open daily during this production period. The official opening is on Friday 2 April in W139 at 21.00.

Every Tuesday evening starting at 20.30 we will be screening a film requested and, if possible, introduced by, one of the artists.


Tuesday 2 February 20:30 Mephisto by Istvan Szabo, 1981. Based on the book by Klaus Mann. Ambitious, socially-aware actor ends up as a theatre assistant for the Nazis. With Klaus Maria Brandauer and Krystyna Janda.

Tuesday 9 February 20:30 Being There by Hall Ashby, 1979. Based on the book by Jerry Kosinsky. Gardener is mistaken for the US President. With Peter Sellers and Shirley Maclaine.

Tuesday 16 February 20:30 When We Were Kings, Leon Gast, 1996. Documentary about the legendary fight between Muhammed Ali and James Foreman in 1974 Kinshasa. With Ali, Foreman, James Brown and Norman Mailer.

Tuesday 23 February 20:30 Collateral by Michael Mann, 2004. Cab driver is forced to drive an assassin through the night streets of Los Angeles. With Tom Cruise and Jamie Fox.

Tuesday 2 March 20:30 The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau: Search for the Deep, 1964. Legendary television documentary about deep-sea life. (In Doctor Faustus, Leverkühn and Dr. Capercailzie plumb the eternally murky depths of the ocean in a diving bell

Tuesday 9 March 20:30 Die macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl, 1993. Documentary by Ray Müller on the maker of the Nazi propaganda films Der Triumph des willens, with Marlene Dietrich, Leni Riefenstahl and Joseph Goebbels. Tuesday 16 March 20:30 ? by Darren Aronofsky, 1998. Number theorist seeks the mathematical key to everything, suffers from crippling headaches and is being pursued by a Wall Street trader and a Cabbalist. With Sean Gullette and Mark Margolis.