Ich gab mir Mühe, damit ich nicht an Unlust früh verglühe

Ich gab mir Mühe, damit ich nicht an Unlust früh verglühe


Artists: Julien Prévieux (F), Tilo Steireif (CH), Laura von Niederhäusern (CH), Eva May (DK)

Opening on Friday 5.6. 19.00

Presentation of the artist publication À propos Das Stellengesuch, erste Ausgabe, 1914/2015 by Laura von Niederhäusern and Eva May, published by Les Éditions d´Uqbar, Genf, and Gitte Bohr with a reading of texts by Robert Walser.

Opening hours

Saturday 6.6. and Sunday 7.6., 16.00 – 20.00

Poster from the artist publication "À propos". Designed by Laura von Niederhäusern

Poster from the artist publication
"À propos". Designed by Laura
von Niederhäusern

Tilo Steireif, watercolour from the series "Der Räuber"

Tilo Steireif, watercolour from the
series "Der Räuber"


Gitte Bohr − Club für Kunst und politisches Denken
C/O WestGermany
Skalitzer Straße 133, 2nd floor (entrance next to Effendi Optik)
U1 & U8: Kottbusser Tor

The title of the exhibition is taken from a poem written by the Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956), whose writings were the inspiration for this exhibition. In a typical Walser-way it combines the terms Mühe (effort) and Unlust, which means aversion, or in psychoanalytical terms: "unpleasure: The sense of inner pain, discomfort, or anxiety which results from the blocking of an instinctual impulse by the ego and is the opposite of the affect of pleasure" (Oxford English Dictionary). The line presents the paradoxical notion that one should work hard in order to avoid aversion, or reach something like pleasure. A state that is mostly associated with the absence of effort.

These themes of work, pleasure and subjectification between heteronomy and self-determination are central in Robert Walser’s writing, its form as well as its content. This exhibition takes up these problematics in the context of today and deals with topics like the reluctance to submit one's self to contemporary society's demands of efficiency and self-promotion, and the search for a subject position that is not subsumed under those demands.

Ich gab mir Mühe, damit ich nicht an Unlust früh verglühe

Julien Prévieux: Lettres de non-motivation


The French artist Julien Prévieux shows a selection of his series of "Lettres de non-motivation" (letters of non-application). Responding to job adverts, he details his reasons for not wanting the position offered, criticises the rhetoric of the job advert, or expresses an unwillingness to comply with the form of the job application and the mechanisms and structures implicit in the world of employment.

Ich gab mir Mühe, damit ich nicht an Unlust früh verglühe

Tilo Steireif: Series of watercolours and drawings relating to Der Räuber


The Swiss artist Tilo Steireif shows a selection from his series of watercolours as well as felt pen and charcoal drawings relating to Robert Walser´s novel "Der Räuber" (The Robber). With the works, Steireif follows the novel, taking up and interpreting quotes and scenes from it while engaging in its fragmentary and idiosyncratic form. In his book, Walser uses disruptions of form and content, as well as abrupt changes in viewpoint and narrative structure to unhinge the efficiency and coherence of the bourgeois discourse and subjectivity. The novel also thematises the act of writing itself and unhinges the separation between story teller, author and protagonist, at times entangling them, at times setting them up against each other.

Ich gab mir Mühe, damit ich nicht an Unlust früh verglühe

Laura von Niederhäusern: Rondo


Laura von Niederhäusern, also from Switzerland, shows her three-channel video installation "Rondo" from 2012. Through combining filmic fragments, it deals with the processes of subject-formation at different stages of our social lives, implicitly or explicitly relating them to the world of work and employment. Children are playing musical chairs to Hanns Eisler´s Rondo from "Kuhle Wampe," a film about unemployment in the Weimar Republic. In an empty theatre, an actor interprets excerpts from Robert Walser´s first novel "Jakob von Gunten," whose eponymous protagonist turns a paradoxical praise of submission into an ironic subversion of the servant´s subjectification. And a group of young people lounge leisurely in a ruinous amphitheatre: an icon of carefree relaxation, or is it?

On the occasion, we will also present the first edition of the artist publication À propos by Eva May and Laura von Niederhäusern. It combines text and image in an homage to Walser´s short prose text "The Application Letter" (1914) and is published by Les Éditions d´Uqbar, Geneva, and Gitte Bohr. The publication includes an essay on Walser´s text by Eva May, as well a poster designed by Laura von Niederhäusern.