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10. April 2021

7 - 9 pm

Text: Sonja Müller

Fish, Death and Flower


With Susan Donath and Vroni Schwegler, two artists are invited to enter into dialogue as part of the exhibition series „“ which connects their years of exploration of the theme of death.

Susan Donath works on a conceptual exploratory level, while Vroni Schwegler takes a direct approach to the subject in her artworks. Donath's investigations result in stringent sculptural works, Schwegler's in sensual painting.


Susan Donath's artistic interest lies in the examination of sepulchral culture (the culture of the dead and dying), which flows into her work in various ways: a Snow White in a closed coffin cremated Stasi files in an urn, or real dead bodies in a gravesite at the Střekov cemetery in Ústí nad Labem, which she has maintained permanently since 2008.

Susan Donath studied at the Dresden University of Fine Arts and was a master student of Christian Sery.  She lives and works in Dresden and Ústí nad Labem.


Vroni Schwegler has devoted her artistic work to the subject of death for many years. The motifs of her paintings, drawings, and prints are fish, chickens, and rabbits slaughtered for consumption; accident victims, such as birds that die when they crash into glass facades; and flies, bumblebees, and wasps that she leaves on the windowsill.  Since March 2020, she has been painting flowers, which she would like to show here for the first time in Frankfurt.

Vroni Schwegler studied at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and was a master student of Hermann Nitsch. She works and lives in Frankfurt am Main.


The golden hare and the game form of fish.
A protocol


The exhibition is entitled Fish, Death and Flower.

Susan Donath has been working with fishes - 1500 wax fishes. A shoal. Orange to deep magenta. The wax melted down, coloured - what happens when you put a piece of wax crayon in the melted wax? The fish in white tubs, belly up, floating in the water. Or even presented without water. Actually, it's harder, Susan says, like dead fishes that someone left standing. The fish have one eye. Just one. One sensory organ. The fish are highly polished, shiny, colourful and remind me of marzipan fish.


Vroni Schwegler is also interested in fishes. She paints fishes. She paints dead animals.


Two positions that deal with the theme of death. Two artistic positions are facing each other in the exhibition series „“ at STUDIOSPACE Lange Straße 31. The situation is absurd. An exhibition that no one can visit. Only we and the artists can see it. Which we photograph, film, post, conserve for eternity. While here in the room, we face the transient aspect.

For Susan, dealing with death has always been normal. Death and impermanence, living and dying. An unburdened, casual approach. Gravestone and cemeteries, rituals and forms of decoration that accompany and decorate death.


For Vroni Schwegler, everything is alive that is subject to impermantence. With painting and drawing, I emphasize the liveliness, says Vroni.


Time for a glass of wine. Cake is on the table. Susan addresses the morbid component in Vroni's work. Finally, we move on to crucifixes, mystery plays, religious symbols, and our origins and their influence on us.



The next day we meet for a workshop talk. It's about MAKING something that has to do with textiles, about handwork, which is rather considered a women's domain, and about the idea of doing things together. And about getting into conversation with each other about MAKING. Can this be achieved virtually?


A killed golden rabbit wilted flowers and a camera view of two people - sometimes from above on the hands and sometimes from the front - that's it, that's what our virtual guests see.

Susan Donath learns craft activities or handwork techniques out of interest; she wants to know how they function. They don't necessarily have to flow into her artistic work, certainly not one-to-one. She is particularly fond of the death crown. We learn that death crowns were originally made for single people's funerals, like a kind of bridal wreath for those who were denied a wedding feast. Later they were also made as a memento for the deceased. Whereby the (communal) MAKING was also a form of spending time together, a state of shared mourning.

MAKING takes time. Time for the making process. This time is a gain. It is time spent together. With the wire, with your own hands, with the idea in your head, with the golden shimmer of the tin foil paper.


Gold flowers in wire.
MAKING as a form of shared time.


Our mascot: The Lindt Easter Bunny. A homage to Vroni's work.


Vroni Schwegler is also interested in fishes. She paints fishes. She paints dead animals. She also paints rabbits.


Susan makes mini flowers out of wire and the golden paper of the Lindt Easter Bunnies. Vroni transports the technique with the gold bunny paper to her subject matter - and sculpts her little finger with the thin, gold-coloured foil. A kind of relic.


Vroni Schwegler is also interested in fishes. She paints fishes. She paints dead animals. She also paints rabbits. And flowers.

Why flowers?

Vroni is looking for what is on her doorstep. She wants to get to know the flowers and deepen the acquaintance through drawing and painting. But the impulse that forces her to MAKE is transience.


The chicory is a flower. Susan recreated it in wire and tiny blue beads.

If you want to make a magic potion, you need white chicory.
The blue chicory turns white in the glaring sun.

How did the artists get to the fish? To the dead fish?

Susan is interested in the dead characteristic of a fish: it floats on the surface. That's how the wax fish came about.


Vroni Schwegler is also interested in fishes. She paints fishes. She paints dead animals. She also paints rabbits. And flowers. In series.


Simplify objects of similar type and then MAKE something new out of it connects both artists. The multiplication happens with Vroni by the swarm-like hanging of the small picture panels. It is also about the relationship that the individual panels have to each other, also about motifs of movement, also in the picture. And in the swarm.


Fish in wild form cannot break out in their uniformity and mass. But when they float on the surface of the water, movement comes to the foreground.

The golden rabbit and the wild form of the fish.

Vroni draws.
For Vroni, working in a communal settings is not necessarily a situation she actively seeks. She rather needs the retreat and the self-talk. Not verbally. Getting in touch with pen and paper. And the rabbit, the fish, the branch. It's a pleasant form of listening when the hand is busy. Do you find that drawing is a form of thinking? Yes. An analysis. Analogical thinking.


The three-dimensional. The transformation of the branches into the two-dimensional drawing on the sheet. Following yourself, looking at what strategy one uses. The artistic work is a form to get in touch with the world.


Painter and sculptor - they are two different approaches facing each other. Is painting more intuitive? The realization more direct? To execute a work in one piece is unthinkable for the sculptor Susan. Processes and materials are differently aligned and planned. The artistic work begins with the search for materials, with trial and error and experimentation.


Vroni does not have a painting in mind beforehand. She is looking for a motif with which she can resonate in a very steady mode of experimentation.

When I wind little gold flowers and have these artifacts in front of me, I create a doubling that has its own reality and impermanence. What am I doing: transforming, recreating, deforming or translating, documenting...? A participant asks.


What role does the experiment play?
The paper of the golden rabbit, which replaces the crepe paper.

Thinking about closing a book so that it is no longer usable.


What role does experience play?
The inexperienced are to be envied because they are open in all directions.

Sometimes the little things that aren't so perfect are much more beautiful in their entirety.


The branch and the wire. The fascination and admiration for the delicate buds of the little branch. The recreation with wire. Why? To trace the shape. To feel one's way. Wrapped in gold.


The research, the interest, the curiosity.


What role does the heritage play?
Susan sees southern Germany in Vroni: dignity, honor, religion, animals. Susan comes from Dresden. Has a different openness. A different origin or personal tradition.


You can't just step out of a tradition. You better look at it.

If you want to make magic potion, you need white chicory.
Blue chicory turns white in the glaring sun.

For me the MAKING - in communion - is equal to a universe. The question of hand-head coordination, thinking with the hands, when material and action begin to create structures that take on a life of their own.... and while we are doing, we MAKE thoughts or are inattentive or allow the doing to release us into a flow. We think about the content references and the like or not. I was thinking of Kleist: On the gradual fabrication of thoughts while talking. MAKING in community opens up dynamic spaces that I can't find alone. Or more difficult. Or differently. (Carolin Kropff)

Text: Sonja Müller

Videos: © Susan Donath

Images: © Alexander Schütz

Information: MACHEN.

Vorherige Ausstellunge waren:

Jens Lehmann / Paul Zita. Text: Nicoletta Danila

Cristiana de Marchi / Susanne Schwieter. Text: Angelica Horn

Vroni Schwegler / Alex Katz. Text: Angelica Horn

Hannes Norberg / Peter Roehr. Text: Angelica Horn, soon.

Martin Holzschuh / Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim. Text: Cristiana de Marchi

Anja Conrad & Lucas Fastabend. Text Angelica Horn


Michael Klipphahn & Anna Nero. Text Angelica Horn.

Hassan Sharif & Carolin Kropff. Text Cristiana de Marchi, Angelica Horn.

Mohammed Kazem & Ekrem Yalçındağ. Texts Cristiana de Marchi, Angelica Horn.

Cristiana de Marchi & Günter Zehetner. Text Angelica Horn.

The exhibition is kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt und Frauenreferat Frankfurt.

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