August 7 –  October 23, 2022


Barthélémy Toguo


Opening: Sunday, 7 August 2022, 11 am

Barthélémy Toguo (*1967) has been focusing in his artistic practice on highly topical issues of identity and social belonging, migration, flight, displacement, and those restrictions that stem from territorial borders and politics regarding sovereign rights. Against the background of his dual Cameroonian-French citizenship, he thereby explicitly adopts a non-Eurocentric approach. He is above all concerned about the causes of ecological problems and their impact on society: drinking and industrial water shortages, maldevelopments in agriculture, the effects of climate change, corruption, armed conflicts or lack of economic development prospects.

In his works – ranging from painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance to installation – he connects intrinsic human essentiality with nature while at the same time embracing humanitarian catastrophes. ”What guides me is a constantly evolving aesthetic, but also a sense of ethics, which makes a difference and structures my entire approach.” On display are works created especially for the Esslingen exhibition, remakes as well as adapted installations, which are reserved for the ground floor of the Villa Merkel, while a retrospective overview of the artist's work answers on the upper floor.

November 11 –  November 27, 2022


etwa faustgroß




Opening: Thursday, 10 November, 7 pm


Students of the Weißenhof Programme of Fine Arts of the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart are presenting their projects.

with works by Javier Klaus Gastelum, Lisa Granada, Anette C. Halm, Jaewon Park, Patricia Paryz, Jochen Wagner, Linda Weiß

February 12 – April 23, 2023




Opening: Sunday, 12 February, 11 am


The exhibition is the centrepiece of a tripartite project consisting of exhibition, printed catalogue raisonné (DING), and magazine (DONG).


DING contains a retrospective without commentary covering thirty years of work by the photographer Axl Jansen with journeys, encounters, stories, fashion, style, and a great deal of subversive humour – a massive flow of images squeezed between the covers of a single book. In its remarkable enormity, DING anticipates Instagram; but the catalogue raisonné, containing more than eleven hundred pages, is quite a thing in itself, huge and heavy.


Out of the DING Axl Jansen and the designer and publisher Uli Schwinge create in cooperation with the team of Villa Merkel a new space. En masse and as a measure of all things, DING discharges its contents into the exhibition spaces, which are conceived of as a walk-in photo magazine, as a fanzine available to be experienced.


Visitors are invited to engage in immersion, reception and active participation: DONG offers Schüttelbilder (shaking head pictures), a rodeo with a photo booth and much more. And DONG expands into the metaverse: virtual spaces open up for avatars; augmented reality gives rise to additional levels of reality; NFTs are generated; and acoustic interventions convey visiting experiences of a special sort.


DONG is play. Ding – Dong. Play with sounds, with words, with meaning, with nonsense and flashing recognitions. DingDong – DaDa. The project plays with fashion, pop, and surfaces; it samples humour and depth. The magazine Dong, which appeared semiannually between 2004 and 2008, offered an ironical answer to the slick and glib fashion magazines of those years. It followed its own rules and invented itself as an autonomous space in which emotional affect and cognitive self-reflection go hand-in-hand. The breaking with conventions, the bringing together of opposites gives rise to flashes of insight and makes the play of DONG cool and humorous.