You who are the stranger

As part of the group show “Touch Release” at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden, DE
Exhibition developed in collaboration with Tom Engels.

29.10 – 19.12.2021

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You who are the stranger is part of a series of recent works that address the memory of Ian’s grandfather, Friedrich Wälder (Stuttgart, 1918–Antofagasta, 1989), through the story of a car he owned: an Opel Olympia. This story is linked to Ian’s own experience as the first member of his family to come back to Germany after Friedrich’s exile. As a Jew, the artist’s grandfather was captured by the Nazis in a concentration camp during Kristallnacht. Once he escaped, he managed to sell the car at a fraction of its worth, assisting him in leaving the country and saving his life.

The car as a symbol of progress for Germany and of individual wealth and prosperity is used to represent loss and defeat. Through a confrontational gesture, an original headlight of an Opel Olympia is held in tension, dazzling the audience and complicating how the object is viewed and understood. Once entering the space, we hear the recording of the only existing trace of Ian’s grandfather playing the piano.

The fragility of the hands and the body of the car continue the dialogue through a series of wall works titled Family Nose (Bare Hands) that have their origin in illustrations from an original instruction publication by Adam Opel AG of the Olympia model from 1935. These photographs focus on the anonymous bare hands holding with care different parts of the Opel Olympia. The fragments of these images are placed around the steel sheets together with papier-mâché noses of Waelder’s family members, stills of movies where the Opel Olympia can be spotted in the background, and leftovers of glue and other materials used in the process.

© Ian Waelder, 2022