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Asylum, 2001/2002

Asylum (Nr. 1–4), 2001/2002

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(Nr. 1–4)
LightJet print, variable dimensions
Edition 6 + 2 ap

The photo works were created in the context of the nine-screen film installation Asylum (2001/2002), with which Rosefeldt sets up a visually opulent and highly stylised theatrical environment in order to examine and deconstruct the stereotypes associated with immigrant citizens and the idea of ‘the other’.

According to the number of channels, the film installation deals with nine different ethnic groups or nationalities, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish, Kosovan-Albanian and Afghan. A hundred and twenty ‘performers’, many of whom are immigrants living in asylum seekers’ hostels, literally ‘act out’ their existence as foreigners by repeatedly executing typical, cliché-ridden jobs in exuberant settings: women with head scarves vacuum-clean a cactus garden; Asian cooks sit in a monkey house, tearing up the Styrofoam packaging of takeaway food; a pile of newspapers that has been stacked and restacked by paperboys is whirled through the air by a giant turbine. The hypnotically slow motion of the camera, its pendulum-like movement within the picture frame, emphasises the ritualistic and nonsensical aspect of the tasks being performed: its profoundly Sisyphean quality. Always portrayed as homogeneous groups, the performers are stripped of their individuality, thus depicting the way in which people tend to look generically at ‘the other’.
    Far from adopting a documentary approach, the artist has constructed subjective and tightly controlled compositions – tableaux vivants, at times reminiscent of traditional fine art, at others playing on pure kitsch. The work questions a compliant ‘aesthetic correctness’ (in analogy to the concept of ‘political correctness’) in the contemporary art world, where an almost journalistic attitude is often seen as the only way of dealing with today’s political hot topics.

Summarised from Stefan Berg and Katerina Gregos, in: Julian Rosefeldt: Film Works (2008)


Asylum (Nr. 4):
Julian Rosefeldt, Galerie West, Den Haag, July–August 2012
Julian Rosefeldt. Photo Works, Arndt, Berlin, June–August 2011
Julian Rosefeldt – Making Of. Film Installations and Photo Works 2004–2010, DA2 – Domus Artium, Salamanca,
   October 2010–March 2011 (curated by Javier Panera)


Berg, Stephan, et al., eds. Julian Rosefeldt: Film Works. Ostfildern, 2008.
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, ed. Julian Rosefeldt: asylum. Exh. cat. Festival d’Avignon et al. Ostfildern, 2004.

Photo Works / Asylum, 2001/2002