Joe Coleman
Internal Digging



26 May – 21 October 07



Opening: Saturday, 26.05.2007, 17 – 22 h

When I start a painting I have no idea how the whole image is going to be. But that's what's exciting to me. I have no sketches and I'm not predicting the composition. It is a digging process.

(Joe Coleman in R.I.P., Rest in Pieces, A Portrait of Joe Coleman, a film by Robert Pejo, 1997)

The exhibition Internal Digging at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin will be the first ever to encompass all aspects of Joe Coleman's work.

Joe Coleman (born in 1955) paints, draws, performs, and collects. His obsessive work includes panel paintings, comic strips, performances, and a total installation, all related to each other in a complex web of mutual referencing. Fully exploiting the possibilities inherent in these diverse artistic media, Coleman explores and combines the compositional principles of icon painting, the mostly invisible knowledge of the American underground, and numerous images quoted "verbatim" from all areas of image production.

The resulting complexity gives rise to an idiosyncratic and dense visual cosmos. Bikers, serial killers, hillbillies, escape artists, and elephant men, curiosities from our collective fairground memories, the wretched and the walking wounded are the actors in his pandemonium. They are the subjects and the objects of Coleman's real and visual worlds. For more than thirty years his apartment in Brooklyn has been growing into a space full of relics, specimens, documents, and oddities. As an important aspect of his work he continually rearranges and reorganizes this rich chamber of marvels, which he calls his Odditorium – at once source of inspiration and verifiable reference.

The painter, performance artist and musician Joe Coleman was born in Norwalk (CT) in 1955 and today lives and works in Brooklyn (NY). His time at the School of Visual Art, New York, in 1976 was no more than a brief episode. He staged his first performance in 1972 (start of the Party Explosions series). Largely self-taught in the fields of painting and drawing, he began creating illustrated stories and comic strips which he published himself (e.g. The Mystery of Woolverine Woo-bait, 1982). His paintings only gained a wider public when he participated in an exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 2001 and an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2007 followed.

Internal Digging is the first European exhibition to show all aspects of Coleman's work.

Apart from paintings and drawings, the show will also feature films and performances and –for the first time ever – give Joe Coleman an opportunity to present substantial parts of the odditorium to the public. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with an interview with Joe Coleman and further texts.

Thanks to JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION, Düsseldorf, About Change, Collection, The Cartin Collection, Hartford, Connecticut, and the Friends of KW Institute for Contemporary Art.

The exhibition is curated by Susanne Pfeffer.



30.05.2007, 7 pm
Talk with Joe Coleman and Susanne Pfeffer

21.06.2007, 8 pm
Film screening: Black Hearts Bleed Red

28.06.2007, 8 pm
Film screening: Häxan

19.07.2007, 8 pm
Film screening: Freaks

09.08.2007, 8 pm
Film screening: Maniac