It is perhaps fitting that the ancient ouroboros marks the beginning – and end – of Never Ending Stories, a major exhibition currently showing at Germany’s Kunstmuseum (Art Museum) Wolfsburg.
Spanning multiple mediums, time periods, and fields, the exhibition explores the concept of the loop on a hitherto unseen scale.
“The loop is very telling for our times,” says curator Ralf Beil, “and the concept of the loop has never been presented in a larger consideration of time and space.”
Organised into 14 thematic sections, Never Ending Stories looks at loops in not only religion and philosophy, but also modern and contemporary art, film, music and literature.
And the ouroboros is one of the most compelling, a symbol that has been the subject of awe and wonder for millennia. Literally meaning ‘tail-devourer’ in Greek, it has appeared in numerous forms in a wide array of contexts and geographies. In its original and most common variation, it depicts a snake eating its own tail in a closed circle.
The ouroboros, however, isn’t Greek, and certainly isn’t a celebration of self-cannibalism.
What, then, are its origins, and what does it signify ?”