As an artist, Vollrad Kutscher is a mediator between tradition and innovation. His themes revolve around self-affirmation, identity and individuality, ethics, aesthetics and morality in an age of personal insecurity brought on by global change. How do we answer the questions about our origin and our destiny today? How do we see ourselves, and how do others see us? What values shape our lives, and how do we deal with our own inner conflicts?

The point of departure for Vollrad Kutscher's explorations into the relationship between the individual and society is the experience of multiplicity, ambiguity and imperfection as fundamental conditions of human existence. The media for his art include staged spatial scenes and portrait installations, action, performance, language, light and virtuality.

The search for self-affirmation is evident in works of the early 1980s in which Vollrad Kutscher relives through performance parts of his own history as a child refugee in a kind of romantic quest for unity with himself and nature. The experiments comprised within this group of works include the "Blindzeichnungen" (Blind Drawings) shown at the exhibition as well as the two performance installations entitled "Der Weiße Traum" (The White Dream) – a work from the collection of the Museum Wiesbaden – and the thematically related but smaller installation "Innenfeld" (Inside Field). Works representing this early thematic complex will be shown in Wiesbaden, Lingen, Erlangen and Chemnitz.

The portrait offers Vollrad Kutscher an ideal medium for his exploration of the subjects of human individuality and identity. Since the late 1980s he has invented a succession of new, surprising and timely forms of expression for this traditional genre of art. This section begins – where the group of works in Self-Affirmation leaves off – with a self-portrait in which the simultaneity of difference and non-self-identity is the underlying theme. The two-dimensional film projection and the three-dimensional object – subject and portrait image – do not conform. The dream of the unique and unalterable self proves to be an illusion.

Portraits of people close to the artist follow, represented at the exhibition by the portrait-installations dedicated to the French-Algerian woman Nicole Giraud, the airline pilot Günter Göring and the actor Norbert Klassen, to the Swiss fashion designer Marianne Milani and to R.L., a young woman from Eritrea, whose portrait as the Queen of Sheba calls to mind ancient myths of North Africa and the Tigris-Euphrates region.

In his group portraits, "Leuchtende Vorbilder" (Shining Examples) and their predecessors in the "Live Peep Show", Vollrad Kutscher focused attention on aspects of the individuality and identity of prominent personalities from the past in shadow projections and luminograms. Originally developed for an exhibition at the Museum Wiesbaden in 1990, "Leuchtende Vorbilder" is being adapted to local site circumstances there ten years later. The performance series entitled "Séances en chambre noire", in the course of which Vollrad Kutscher made luminographs of people from the art scene, is a continuation of the group-portrait theme and recruits new participants at the exhibition venues in Wiesbaden and Göppingen.

Individual and group portraits are a major focal point of the exhibition at all six tour locations in Wiesbaden, Lingen, Saarbrücken, Göppingen, Erlangen and Chemnitz. The earliest evidence of Vollrad Kutscher's concern with the third thematic complex – ethics, aesthetics and morality – is found in works also done in the early 1980s. Here, he is interested in questions that have been posed and reformulated again and again since Kant, questions upon which he casts new light in an age of scepticism towards traditional value systems and standards. During the 1990s, this thematic complex took an increasingly important position in the centre of his artistic interest. In "Peeping Frankfurt", he exposes the hypocrisy and the deception inherent in the alliance of money, power and sex in the Frankfurt railway station district, the "Bahnhofsviertel". "Der Künslter ist anwesend" (The Artist is Present) can also be interpreted as a similar commentary on the subject of the art business. "Brot und Spiele - Das Hildebrandlied" (Bread and Games – The Hildebrandlied) can be read as a reaction to a new phase of the global power struggle following German reunification. "Der kategorische Imperativ" (The Categorical Imperative) moves questions of perception and Kant's view of morality and the self to the forefront of discussion in an era of growing xenophobia. The "Schwarze Madonna von Passau" (Black Madonna of Passau) deals with devotional rituals and their double-edged meaning in a culture supported by the spirit of Christianity. "Ars mundi" is a reminder of the soul, the warmth and the humanity shared by people of different ages and skin-colours the world over. Finally, such works as "Hosianna, Verkündung am Gärtnerplatz" (Hosannah, Annunciation at Gärtnerplatz), "Himmlische Heerscharen" (Heavenly Legions) and "Rauchskulpturen" (Smoke Sculptures) are commentaries and reflections on exhibition institutions and museums as settings for a modern substitute religion.

Volker Rattemeyer, Museum Wiesbaden
From catalog TOP REARGUARD, 2000