Karen Koltermann

Maritime motifs play a central role in the works of Karen Koltermann, who grew up in the seaport of Bremerhaven. She has concerned herself intensively with the history of one ship, which was docked in Bremerhaven for twenty-one years and then transported to a Lithuanian shipyard for breaking. What would be an exciting adventure story if it were a book is dramatically staged by Karen Koltermann through visual means. She draws us into her art, paints, photographs, films and stages expansive installations. The various physical qualities of the media and installations are also used to suggest various modes of experiencing the whole. Thus painted waves make the spray of water palpable, or a video projection allows us to perceive the side of a passing ship just as immediately as it would appear to refugees in rescue boats, who, in fear of their lives, hope in vain for rescue from every steamship that approaches.

The use of different media is no isolated incident in Karen Koltermann’s works. She enhances photographs by brushing in fine art elements, and photographic backgrounds are often composed of inserted collages from paintings. She does not practice the art of the pure, the good, the true and the beautiful, but is instead interested in that which is mixed-up, the indistinct and ambiguous and in processes of transition and decay.

Ludwig Seyfarth


Life: Karen Koltermann

Karen Koltermann, born in Bremen in 1964, initially studied archaeology at the University of Hamburg. She transferred to the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg in 1988, where she concluded her studies in 1996 with a distinguished diploma for documentary and animation film work. 1997 Work scholarship from the Hanseatic City of Hamburg for fine arts. 1994–2000 Co-producer of a project space in Hamburg. The artist, who lives in Berlin, has presented numerous exhibitions and exhibition entries of her work both nationally and internationally, in places such as Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Copenhagen, Malmö, New York, Maracaibo and Santiago de Chile, along with further work scholarships from cities such as Malmö.