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Oh Tannenbaum!

Christmas Tree Exhibition
Oh Tannenbaum Weihnachtsbaumausstellung
The exhibition »Oh Tannenbaum« plays with the iconic symbol of the Christmas tree. Although some of the contributions are far removed from the popular notion of what this tree looks like, each refers to the traditional image in its own way.

The unusual spelling in the title of the exhibition – “Oh” rather than the conventional “O” Tannenbaum – is intended to convey both the range of possible reactions to the works on show – from enthusiastic approval to bemused consternation – and the equally diverse creative approaches to the chosen theme. Whether it elicits a smile of amusement, an appreciative nod or a shocked gasp, each exhibit reflects its creator’s personal vision of the Christmas tree, which may or may not correspond to the standard image of this object.

Few other objects offer as much scope for interpretation or have such evocative potential as the Christmas tree. The combination of the specific and the universal is what makes it so unique – on the one hand there is the classic image of a cone-shaped object clad in green needles, (red) baubles and (white) candles, and on the other is the widespread recognition and value of this symbol.
The Christmas tree is both pagan and Christian; it can be found in supermarkets and at winter fairs; it represents fertility and commerce; it is put on display in living rooms and on public squares from Stockholm to Cape Town, Miami to Beijing – and takes on a new appearance from every different angle.

The fact that this tree has put down roots in all these different religious, secular, commercial, formal, historical, familial, social and other traditions, yet has still managed to grow into such an unmistakable evergreen icon, provides many valuable starting points for idealizing, ironic, critical, collaged, satirical, challenging, exaggerating, parodying and other individual forms of interpretation.

Now all that remains to be seen is which interpretations among those presented here will make you respond with a delighted “Oh yes!”, the occasional “Oh dear” and even the odd “Oh no!”...

Happy viewing!

Johannes Marmon & Johannes Müller