Quadrupede Matthias Dornfeld
September 15 – Oktober 27, 2017
Soy Capitán is pleased to present a solo show of new paintings by Berlin artist Matthias Dornfeld.
At the sight of the playful animal parade of Quadrupede, you might hallucinate the clicking of hooves, stiletto heels, or the treading of soft bear paws. Reminiscent of children’s drawings – a creative register every one of us can relate to first-hand – Dornfeld’s art doesn’t need explanation in order to unfold its curious vitality.
Each of the large-scale paintings in Quadrupede showcases one singular animal in side view, against an indefinite, empty background. Lionesse, as the title and the creature’s claws suggest, presents a female lion. Its bulky trunk, however, glows in a bright pink – and on its shoulders: A tubby, blue smiley-face, crowned by a splendorous aureola. The strange chimera stretches her limbs and tail across the full spread of the canvas, placidly returning our gaze… In Dornfeld’s paintings, simplicity unfolds psychological complexity – and the naïve merges with the magical.
To some degree, the naïve aesthetic of Dornfeld’s pictorial world evokes the art of autodidact Henri Rousseau (who inspired the Surrealists and many other French avant-gardists), and the deskilled, expressive brush strokes of 1980s German neo-expressionism. However, Dornfeld’s approach to painting pre-eminently involves a deliberate ‘unlearning’ of such art historical discourses – as well as the academic training derived from them.
The medium of painting, for Matthias Dornfeld, provides access to a long-lost state of mind: One, aware of a deeply rooted kinship between everything that creeps and crawls in this world. “Ein Pferd”, the artist says teasingly, “ist ja auch nur ein Mensch” (“A horse, after all, is also just human”). We may deem four-legged gait to be a distinguishing feature of the animal – and tend to forget that it also marks a transitional state in human evolution, and our way of discovering the world in infancy.
Human hubris is known to present a very concrete threat to the modern world. And there’s already a new species of quadrupeds on the rise: A vanguard of four-legged military robots, BigDogs and WildCats (developed by Labs such as BostonDynamics), can already be watched practicing their jumps on YouTube. Today, maybe more than ever, re-accessing an understanding of ourselves that places us within a continuity of the world’s creatures might be a vital exercise.
(Text: Katharina Weinstock)
Matthias Dornfeld (b. 1960 in Esslingen, Germany, based in Berlin) studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich. In 2014 and 2015, he was Visiting Professor, also at the Munich art academy, temporarily replacing Professor Günter Förg. Dornfeld’s art has been shown internationally since 2001, and is part of numerous renowned art collections. His recent solo shows include: Karussell (Helsinki Contemporary, 2016), A Loose Tooth in the Booth (Bruce Haines, London, 2016), Donnerstag (Matthias Jahn, Munich, 2015), Paintings Sweet Paintings (Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, 2014), Die Schönheit der Frau des Bäckers (Waldburger Wouters, Brussels, 2014), No Deleuze, No Flip-Flops (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2011), Matthias Dornfeld (Ben Kaufmann, Berlin, 2010), Matthias Dornfeld (Harris Lieberman, New York, 2009). Selected group shows: Die Dritte Hand – Last Exit Painting (Salon Dahlmann, Berlin, 2015), Captain Pamphile, A pictorial novel in pieces, Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas (Deichtorhallen & Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, 2011).
super busy Grace Weaver
April 28 – June 24, 2017
In Spite of Chores Camilla Steinum
February 11 – April 08, 2017
Forms reappear, a harmonic line is reproduced, this is already a kind of knowledge, at least a frequent, recurring recognition: a strong stability can appear again before our eyes, ring like a refrain in our ears; memory presents itself as knowledge, rhythm presents itself as habit – and before long, as law. But this rare trace in the aerial fluid, this unstable, complex mixture, this partially undone knot, trailing a thousand threads, is not subject to repetition, never achieves invariance: too circumstantial to begin beating in time, too fluid, diluted, chaotic. A bedizened, transcendental space, conditional but not general.
The breathable space lies in a thin layer at ground level and remains stable for quite a long period. Can we place another thread. Where would it go? Under, over, beside: what does ‚side‘ mean?
In the time before the arrival of the word, the flesh is brimming over with grace, intrinsically. It sleeps during the long, wordless night and dreams, amidst the fleeting scents of asphodel, that an enormous tree is sprouting from its stomach, the last branch of which is called the word. Bare-breasted and resting near the patriarch, himself heavy with sleep, she, flesh, dreams in silence of an inconceivable child. Flesh dreams of words; language – fruit – takes root in its womb.
The body resembles the table. The organism is studded with small memory pockets, where time hardly flows or stops altogether, unconscious where it can remain frozen forever. *
* with fragments of Michel Serres’, The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies
Shahin Afrassiabi Upgrade, Zoom, Beach
10 September – 29 October 2016
The works in your sketches for your upcoming show Upgrade, Zoom, Beach are pretty much „sketchy“ themselves. It is almost like you select objects, for instance frames, but only show a suggestion of these. You seem to shift the focus towards their materiality instead of their actual function. What is the initial point for these works?
I think of them as models. Maybe that is why they appear provisional. Models are subject to change and improvement. I think I am at my best when I improvise. Obviously a certain amount of planning is necessary, but I get better results when I am playing. I need to keep that space open in the studio of course, but also in a show, and once the work is up it is fixed.
Could you say a few words about the exhibition title?
Upgrade, Zoom, Beach is a name for each of the three elements on display: the wall constructions, upgraded to aluminium from previous wooden ones, the photographs taken with the zoom function of the camera, and the paintings which are a riff on pixelated satellite images of beaches. These particular words resonate with some aspects of how we experience images that I am interested in, as well as the conditions in which we experience them.
What sort of conditions do you mean? Are you referring to the circulation of digital imagery?
Yes, but also the methods technology suggests and provides. Images and materials are instruments, like paint is. Paint is both material and instrument. The names are descriptive both of what is going on in the object and in my head. But they also describe a methodology, especially in how the works were conceived – by zooming in on the image, by upgrading the operating system of construction and materials. The beach is the image of presence, of the forever now, where we all want to be, an idyll and for me it has this notion of return to origins.
Just like Marshall McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study, the referential characteristics embedded in these materials you use seem to have priority. How do you approach those translational processes, such as switching between mediums, between the texture of photography into painting, between digital and analogue so to say?
The works in the show are really comprised of various aspects of the materialisation of an image, accepting the image as an object and then taking it apart. The gesture, the structure, surface and the support. Those elementary things occur and are repeated in the works. Once the elements are separated they can be re-contextualised. Thinking about it this way frees me up to pursue different manifestations of what an image could be, and what its materiality could be filtered through the application of the methods described above. This way I can avoid the trappings of style.
April 29 – Juni 25, 2016
Henning Strassburger Superet Light
Smoking in S Coronado Street
people in the heavy haze
Some of them I love and some of them I hate.
Hard in Da Paint
Hard in Da Paint
Leaving the red Chevrolet behind
leaning on the silver bars
Seeing the light and the golden stars.
Art Cologne 2016 New Contemporaries
Solo presentation with works by Grace Weaver
14.04. – 17.04.2016
January 29 – April 2, 2016
Jesse Wine Wonderful Audience Member | Invited by Melissa Canbaz
‘Wonderful Audience Member’ is about being open to the individual member of the audience that is invited to consider their own perceptions as legitimate as the examples they see in front of them. The audience member is thus unpinned from an amorphous entity and detached from a specific attention adjustment predefined by the gallery as an “institution”. Through the gesture of invitation and a particularly dialogical approach, the show aims to suggest different forms of involvement and self-positioning within this setting.
The black figure is formally a “good work”, reminiscent of successful figurative sculpture from the 20th century. The blue sculpture is like a bad drawing. It’s wonky and disproportionate. It is, in its very nature, shoddy. This difference gets crucial considering conventional artistic production and the way things are made. What the audience member is looking at isn’t definitely high culture, just because it is placed in a gallery – they are looking at samples of art. The show is really about perceptions, and being open to perceptual processes. Wonderful audience member I is referring to this very attempt to “get it right”.
Books lying around, left on the edge of the plinths in order to suggest human presence and resemble a laissez-faire gesture. That one is here, working and thinking. They are also an affirmation towards the idea of studying, looking, learning. At the same time these books are sculptures made in the same way as the figures – the familiar type of art – suggesting that these figures are from the same process of looking, studying, learning. Just like the easel on top of the plinth, is about how this process of perception can be applied – a conduit to achieving art, if you like. And this idea of the conduit is as important as the final piece, because the conduit is what liberates us.
Jesse Wine (b. 1983) lives and works in London. Selected solo exhibitions include „Big Pictures“ at Limoncello, London; „Chester Man“ at Mary Mary, Glasgow and „Young Man Red“ at BALTIC, Gateshead. Upcoming solo presentations will be on view at Gemeentmuseum, Den Haag and at Tate St. Ives. Wine’s sculptural practice is based on the interplay of humour, art historical- and autobiographical references. His approach to the traditional medium of clay is generated by its use in history, its alliance with craft and its placement within the context of contemporary visual arts by underlining issues of form and display, often being reminiscent of abstract-expressionist ceramics. Wine shows for the first time in Berlin with a presentation of new work.
Melissa Canbaz (b. 1986) is a writer based in Berlin. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2013, where she developed a research project on ‘dialogical’ approaches within the field of contemporary curatorial practices. A selection of her curatorial projects are „Slide to Unlock (stretch back)“ in collaboration with Hella Gerlach, at the Goethe-Institut, Glasgow; „Sculpting 2D“ at CCA Glasgow, a photographic slideshow with works by Rachel de Joode, Barbara Kasten and Roman Schramm (i.e.) and „hoop the loop (step2)“ at Basis, Frankfurt a.M. with works by Sofia Duchovny and Hella Gerlach. Canbaz is a regular contributor to various art magazines and artists‘ publications.
Preview in ArtReview, issue March 2016, by Martin Herbert.
Feature in taz – die Tageszeitung, 03/2016, by Beate Scheder (pdf available upon request).
Online feature on Art Viewer, 03/2016.
Feature on KubaParis, 02/2016.
Online feature on this is tomorrow, 02/2016.
07.11. – 19.12.2015
Klara Hobza Ich halte das Rheingold für eine gute Investition.
Eines sonnigen Tages war ich gezwungen aufzutauchen, weil der Kanalboden so stark roch, dass ich mich fast in die Schläuche meines Atemgerätes hinein übergab. Auch bemerkte ich ein gewisses Zerren an meiner Ausrüstung. Ich tauchte auf und fand mich umzingelt von jungen, unfassbar gesund aussehenden Ruderinnen mit roten Bäckchen. Eine von ihnen hatte sich an der Schnur meiner Boje festgezurrt. Zu meiner Verwirrung befanden wir uns direkt an einer aus dunkelrotem Ziegel erbauten Stadtmauer mit runder Toreinfahrt. Ich war wohl in den Wassergraben einer mittelalterlichen Stadtanlage geraten. Das erklärte auch den Gestank, eine Stadtgeschichte von Verwesung und Pest, die mir noch tagelang im Gaumen sitzen sollte.
Wo ich sei, fragte ich die etwas perplex dreinblickenden jungen Frauen. »Delft.« – »Delft! Delft?« Wo es denn hier zum Rhein gehe. Sie wiesen in die entgegengesetzte Richtung. Trotz Kompass hatte ich mich im Irrgarten der holländischen Wassersysteme vertaucht. Nachdem ich den Ruderinnen von meinem Vorhaben erzählte, entschlossen sie sich, mich noch ein Stück zu begleiten. Feierlich in Gänseformation rudernd, eskortierten sie mich zu den Stadtmauern Delfts.
Ich halte das Rheingold für eine gute Investition
In her current exhibition, Klara Hobza presents both new works related to her long-term project Diving Through Europe, as well as a new group of works related to her diving through the Rhine and the therefore-associated daring search for the contested source of the Rhine. Hobza leads the viewer through the expedition along the installation Rheinquell [The Source of the Rhine] – a longitudinal section of the river. Ultimately, while searching for the source of the river, she unexpectedly finds the Rhinegold. This stone forms the apex of the elevation profile, the virtual source. The exhibition concludes with a cartographic representation of her dives to date. Since 2012, Hobza has been crossing Europe in stages by diving through the rivers that connect the North Sea to the Black Sea. In 2014, while diving through Holland’s complex water systems, Hobza was forced off her planned route. The video Delft sums up this moment, capturing the encounters below and above water in surreal scenes. Hobza’s textual recapitulation of this dive and the video forms the latest and therefore the sixth episode of the Diving Through Europe project.
Ich halte das Rheingold für eine gute Investition. [I think Rhinegold is a good investment.] takes the shape of a self-contained narration and encapsulates the parallel worlds that make up Hobza’s present-day artistic practice: diving, the representation of this undertaking through the materials she encounters en route, as well as the unanticipated detours that arise.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the publication Werner Herzog: An den Grenzen, edited by Kristina Jaspers and Rüdiger Zill and including a contribution by Klara Hobza, will also be presented.
21.10. – 25.10.2015
OFFICIELLE Paris 2015
Solo presentation of Matthias Dornfeld in collaboration with Bruce Haines, Mayfair.
18.09. – 31.10.2015
Grace Weaver Skinny Latte
That moment when your earnest efforts at „making eyes“ are thwarted by the pesky intervention of a tube of Maybelline Great Lash® mascara. At least your lashes are lush!
That feeling when—minding your own business—you try to swipe left and wind up instead in a head-over-heels trip when slippery flip-flop trip meets 🍌. Or when best-laid-plans in the form of flirty skirt or white-on-white are foiled by treacherous weather: you become a foolish upskirt photo-op and gosh, all you can think to do is 😥.
Our heroine is a kind of amiable fool, a goody-two-shoes with her ❤️ in the right place but her head in the ☁️. It’s a tough and nasty world out there for this young-girl, looking for love in all the wrong places. But in these paintings, tragicomedy falls more into the gentle register of #fail than Shakespearean melodrama. The drama may be high, but the stakes are emphatically low.
The lynchpin of these paintings is the a pratfall, but our good-girl is just one in a parade of pleasure-seekers, lazy loungers looking for love or at the very least: #yum. It is a choreographed dance of missed connections and near misses; the closest we come to cheek-to-cheek lovers’ union is the shadow of one face thrown across another, or the glow of an iPhone screen pulled in close.
The land-of-milk-and-honey becomes transmuted into a landscape of LITE. These are paintings made for maximum mouthfeel, replete with delectable color and dainty detail. They are pictures of being alone together, in defense of the sweet failure of the empty calorie. Licking, smoking, sucking, swiping in search of satisfaction, we cross our fingers that we might not come up empty this time. On our search for delicious, it’s a pause to luxuriate—eyes closed—in the lush emptiness of fat-free froth, in the Skinny Latte ☕️.
01.05. – 27.06.2015
Crystal Readings curated by Gislind Köhler
with Mikkel Carl, Dominik Gohla, Pakui Hardware, Daniel Stempfer, Anna Zett
Fine cracks appear on the surface. The penetration of matter; new levels, techniques and structures swell out once again to dissolve. Meanings, attempts, codes are generated to explain processes. Layers of perception break apart. Forms become visible, they refer to something invisible, in the future? New combine to form a whole, vanish. Scepticism replaces reassurance, followed by speculation, then ambiguity. Press release (pdf)
13.04. – 19.04.2015
Art Cologne 2015 | New Contemporaries
presenting works by Shahin Afrassiabi, Benja Sachau, Henning Strassburger
05.03. – 08.03.2015
The Armory Show Solo presentation by Henning Strassburger
Collaboration with BolteLang, Zurich
14.02. – 11.04.2015
Eli Cortiñas Five Easy Pieces and Some Words of Wisdom
Five Easy Pieces and Some Words of Wisdom
Five Easy Pieces and Some Words of Wisdom, Eli Cortiñas’ second solo exhibition at Soy Capitán, revolves around the video work ‚Quella Che Cammina (The One Who Walks)’, created in Rome in 2014.
Forming the central character of this self-referential and associative montage of images and sound is the figure of an aging Roman prostitute. Although this character is taken from ‘Amore che si paga’, Italian filmmaker Carlo Lizzani’s contribution to the 1953 neorealist episodic film ‘L’amore in città’, Cortiñas draws almost exclusively on material she has filmed herself.
Her studio in Villa Massimo serves as the filming location and has been temporarily transformed here into a stage. On a self-constructed platform in the studio space, specific lighting and visual movement are used to present sculptural designs in various ways. The goal here is to find a solution for how to translate the actual object into a filmic one. In exterior shots, Cortiñas shifts the view from the surrounding environment’s obvious features and focuses instead on what is underrepresented, the hidden flaw.
Speaking restlessly in Italian, French and Spanish, she conducts an inner monolog that revolves around how one perceives the self caught in the dilemma between imposed conventions and the desire to satisfy personal freedoms. This inner monolog, at times a dialogue, takes place between self-created and unfamiliar expectations as well as a social pattern that is likely—as she leads us to surmise—not freely chosen. Cortiñas’ switching between languages is based on the fact that she is responding to the individual protagonists in their respective languages, whose voices she appropriates and reproduces newly dissected. As part of her approach, the voice of her own mother also appears, contextualizing her daughter’s work in an ironic, distanced way.
Cortiñas understands film and video as a spatial experience and therefore situates her filmic work in the context of assemblages and a wall piece created from its own set of themes.
19.09. – 29.11.2014
The Galleries Some Lesser Known Rituals Of Wimbledon
Some Lesser Known Rituals Of Wimbledon
The rear of the shirt remains white, no matter what the style! And so does art. Hard, edgy and without compromise – but always white on its backside.
We never heard a male player roaring and grunting like Monica Seles. Women have always played their game harder than the ancestral line of male super artists, players or collectors.
And there they were: women! Eccentric, flamboyant, politicized. This was definitely hardball. While male players were more focussed on diving volleys, histrionic rages or designing underwear, the ladies‘ singles, on the other hand – the backhand, as it were – was nothing less than a fight to the end.
Likewise with the ships. Daddies‘ cruise ships were falling asleep, whilst the collectors’ yachts at the quay of the Arsenale looked like the big white teeth of an omnivorous oligarch. Shiny shiny super-moneyed dentistry.
Therefore, they called their boat „Guilty“. Changing the dazzling white into world war camouflage, knowing ‚occupy‘ means ‚copupy‘. Go for it. Get your gun.
Die andere Arbeit des letzten, ja eigentlich schon vorletzten Jahres war ‚Rich Texts‘ gewesen, von John Kelsey. Vor jedem Satz standen wir wie Fraser in der art lodge ihrer eigenen Performance und strichen mit den Fingern immer wieder über die Zeilen und Bilder. Isn’t it a lovely piece? This is a real work of art! Mehr als alles, worüber die Zeichen und Zeilen der Selected Writings berichteten, waren es die schwarz-weiß gerasterten Fotos von Tennisspielerinnen, die uns als die eigentliche Information des Buches lisicki-hart ins Feld serviert wurden.
And this again was another form of gender shifting. You were left looking at the canvas, searching for punctum and studium, while at the same time you totally missed the big picture: This definitely wasn’t the men’s singles! The old elites have fallen. Return to Jutta Koether’s „The Inside Job“.
26.04. – 21.06.2014
Henning Strassburger Strike The Pose
Strike the Pose
While sitting in the lukewarm hot tub, dry desert mountains ahead, a long journey behind, R says: „Think global, act local“.
And I say: „Think global, act global“.
He says: „Yeah“.
And I also say: „Yeah“.
We remain silent then.
We continue drinking cold beer in the tub.
A roadrunner pokes along and then a rabbit. Very lame dudes but hardly surprising considering that kind of heat. P. behind the neighbor’s fence introduces his sister.
Her name is C.
„So nice to meet you!“ we respond out of the pool.
We wave our hands a little, too.
The neighbor’s dog barks.
Over the fence again, P. shouts that the dog is quite ugly.
R. and I both shout „Yeah“.
The neighbor walks back into the house to his sister.
Eventually R. says to me: „Don‘t try to be interesting, be interested“.
I answer: „Yeah“.
After a while I also add: „Be interesting and be interested“.
R. says „Yeah“.
15.03. – 19.04.2014
Shahin Afrassiabi Radical Substance
It is both something and nothing that Shahin Afrassiabi points us towards as “Radical Substance“: the viewer is placed at point zero as the artworks‘ point of departure. Afrassiabi displaces and filters out central components: materiality, construction, medium and ultimately, the meaning itself. It is about the neutral essence of things, beyond even the artist‘s own control. Radical substance turns out to be the very gesture of the exhibition as such which Afrassiabi uses to invite the viewer into discussion, a gesture that says: Make something of it! And it is here where his interest lies. How do ratios develop between pure components and their recirculated things? Which directions can they expand towards? What possibilities open up beyond narrative?
Afrassiabi expresses his reduction to the essential transparently. With discrete playfulness he hides the foreground and background between the actual matter and the layers placed over it. That which exists is put into question and manifests itself simultaneously with conspicuous certainty. The wood and fabric structures fuse with the wall while also creating a counterpart to it. The artwork becomes rudimentary, carrying the potential for diverse appendages – whether in material reality, the imagination, or the virtual world: a projection onto itself.
Afrassiabi does not distinguish between the media he works in. The individual pieces retain their own characteristics, and together result in a game of different types of images and associations. A single dress becomes an installation. By that he means: „The Dress is a Building“, and projects an image taken in the past, of a Google Street View camera onto fabric and finally onto the body of a real woman. The filtered image of a person chosen at random materializes in the flesh in the here and now – from the universal to the particular – and through photographic documentation back to the image. The fabric ends up as ephemeral matter, placed on a wooden plinth, as part of the exhibition‘s installation, bringing it back to the discourses’ neutral point of departure.
17.01. – 22.02.2014
Great Expectations presented by Klara Hobza
Great Expectations – presented by Klara Hobza
With best intentions we carry our grand ideas into the world. We create a scenario in which the material of reality clashes with the material of our imagination. We fall in love with the world in this moment that cannot be directed, when reality accelerates our intentions to high velocity, transforming them into something irrefutable.
The artists of Great Expectations do not shy away from addressing the transformative forces of death, nor are they afraid of inserting themselves into grand landscapes and their animal worlds.
Forchetta delle Dolomiti
(The Fork of the Dolomites)
Video, 2013, 06:36 min.
On the top of Schlern mountain, near Bolzano, Leopold Kessler erected a monument to the victory of Italian cuisine. In his video, we see a gigantic fork with a perfectly wrapped bundle of spaghetti defying the windy gusts of the Dolomites. A while later, a group of well-equipped mountaineers dismantle this fork of triumph with considerable effort and devoutly carry it down the mountain.
Video, 2012, 05:51 min.
Buck Fever is an assemblage of amateur recordings by game hunters found on YouTube. We hold our breath as we accompany these hunters, carefully sneaking up on the animals and waiting for a clean shot. As they fire, all their tension is released and morphs into ecstasy over their perfect kill. We can´t help but watch in awe as the hunters pose with their beautiful animals set against grand American landscapes.
(Facility for Timed Blessings)
Before its official discovery in 2012, Benja Sachau discovered the Higgs particle—an elementary particle—in 2010. To honor his monumental triumph, he combined two Tibetan meditation vessels with a microprocessor to create his Facility for Timed Blessings.
Over the duration of the exhibition, each vessel periodically transmits its blessing in the form of a ringing sound. The frequency of rings is programmed according to the rules of the Fibonacci sequence, which represents perfect beauty. One vessel is installed outside the gallery, the other inside. Blessings from the outdoor vessel gradually decrease in frequency, ringing less and less over the duration of the exhibition. The indoor vessel does the reverse, increasing in ringing frequency (i.e. blessings). Accordingly, the outdoor blessing tones gradually shift indoors. The vessels ring out simultaneously only twice: at the very beginning and very end of the exhibition.
Nights of Coyote and Cake
Set of two photographs, 2013
“In August of last year, I was staying on the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts. Late one evening I noticed the eerie and cacophonous howl of wild dogs. Indeed, a pack of coyotes was camping out in my yard. I heard it again the next night, and I decided to make them a marvelous cake. I made a gigantic meat cake full of beef and jellied pate, surrounded by hot dogs and raw marrowbones. For the last few years I have been doing projects in which I create a decadent feast for a group of wild animals. Based on extensive research into the diet of various species, I tailor the recipes for the particular animals I am likely to encounter in a given region. These experiments in the natural world have given me some insight into the behavior of non-human animals. With this in mind, I set this spectacular food out for the coyotes late one evening. When I awoke at dawn the next morning I went out to the spot where I left it, only to find that it hadn’t been touched at all. Nor was it eaten over the next four consecutive nights. Coyotes, being mercilessly exterminated as pests, have adapted to this by being constantly on the move. One thing for certain is the unpredictability of wild creatures. No matter how well an investigation may be researched and prepared, there is always a very strong element of chance. For example, sometimes your collaborators never even materialize.” (Dana Sherwood)
1-channel-video, 2000, 5:20 min.
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
We see a man in a kayak. To his left is a river. Instead of paddling down the river, he has chosen to be dragged down a road, towed behind what seems to be a truck. The road has the same width, shape, and color as the stream. The man might have missed his entry point. But he is wearing a motorcycle helmet—he must have intended to take the gravel road instead of the waterway. By no means, however, could he have anticipated the overwhelming surprise that reality throws his way: his rowdy method of transportation causes a herd of cows to break into a run alongside him and his kayak. For a brief moment, the minds of these two different species, the work animals and the artist at work, seem to merge into a single consciousness of astonishment.
In this series of interventions Virg glued glitter onto the wings of dead insects. She then placed them in a variety of windowsills in cafés, libraries, and bars. On the off chance that someone took notice of this very subtle intervention, this may have given rise to rather large-scale questions of death and beauty. Perhaps this wasp felt an irresistible pull towards the glittering beauty that ended up killing it? Perhaps it took a last bath in glitter before smashing itself against the window in a final act of kamikaze? Or perhaps it took a human to pay tribute to a magnificent death, which would have otherwise been too easily overlooked?
02.11. – 14.12.2013
Benja Sachau There Were Rumors
There Were Rumors
In his second solo exhibition at Soy Capitán, Berlin-based artist Benja Sachau is concerned with far more than just vague rumors and cryptic secrets.
Sachau’s conceptually calculated objects are multimedia implementations of the impossible: rumors of scientific discoveries with fatal consequences, consciously manipulated propaganda information, forgotten specialist knowledge, myth, parascientific belief constructs and half truths – such are his themes. He formulates them in objects such as ‘Die große Konjunktion’ (The Great Conjunction, 2013), a wall piece of hula hoops and nylon cord; two tile works in ceramics and Plexiglas, ‘Companion’ (2013) and ‘To Whom It May Concern’ (2013); two works on paper, ‘There were rumors’ and ‘Schlüssel (M16)’ (Code (M16), 2013); and a sound object: an apt trumpet with the title ‘Beltone 222’ (2013).
Sachau deals with themes such as the discourse on power and domination in politics, religion and science as societal processes, and the calculated games they sometimes play with the control, or losing control, of the mass media. Entirely in line with the critical stance of Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Understanding Media’ (1964), Sachau also puts the medium of communication in the spotlight and makes it the message.
For example, we get a sense of how the spoken word becomes an instrument of power when listening to the annuciatory trumpet of ‘Beltone 222’. Like a news satellite, this autarchic wind instrument functions on solar power. In an endless looped message, the trumpet blares out the uncanny voice of sect leader Reverent Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple cult, whose nine hundred followers committed mass suicide in the Guyanan rainforest in 1978. Sachau drives this into the realm of the absurd, reducing his power-crazed speeches to nothing but the names of persons and institutions lined up in staccato – Henry VIII, German Federal Republic, etc. This recalls the theory of pastoral power as described by Michel Foucault in ‘The Subject and Power’ (1982). Here Foucault defines an old strategy of religious power that employs confession, preaching, and prophesy as linguistic means for subjugating the individual to existing social conditions. And this form of authority, he argues, is consciously maintained even by modern states.
In the work on paper that gives this exhibition its name, Sachau takes a skeptical approach to older examples of an early rumor mill. For this work he typed up the New Testament text of Matthew 27:1–7 on a typewriter. Here Jesus warns his disciples about false prophets and tells them to how they are to interpret the signs of the end times. Heike Fulbrügge
14.09. – 26.10.2013
Matthias Dornfeld Alles Gute!
Alles Gute ! Best Wishes !
Did the colour come first? Cinnabar green and madder lake, caput mortuum, ivory black, cadmium yellow, cobalt violet, ultramarine… planes of colour collide with each other, are layered on top of one another, removed again, reapplied.
Or did the painting begin with a line – incised, or in charcoal, graphite, biro or oil pastel? This line becomes a woman, a flower, a vase, a bunch of flowers, a suggestion of a room, a landscape, a face, many faces.
Matthias Dornfeld’s paintings are distinguished by a sensual directness and an attitude of openness, but this goes just as much for the drawings on paper and other substrates.
There may be room for inscrutability and doubt in Matthias Dornfeld’s pictures, but at the same time one also sees in them a great love of things and of life itself. They are at once vigorous and direct, tender and delicate. The dark and the uncanny encounter beauty, lightness and sensuality.
Just as he often takes a highly experimental approach to colour and line, Matthias Dornfeld also plays with various scales. There are some very small, extremely concentrated paintings, but also large surfaces covered over and over with pigment, though the image may just as well emerge from no more than a few delicate lines. Sometimes Matthias Dornfeld has small-format drawings blown up into large-format black and white screen prints so that he can then continue reworking them in oils. This seals a new alliance between the painterliness of such drawings and the linearity of the paintings.
Abstraction and empathy: lines and colours become ever new figures, faces, bunches of flowers, both prototypical and individual. They are timeless, but with a presence that is absolutely contemporary. Christine Heidemann
Klara Hobza Der Totale Horror
Der Totale Horror
On Day 7, I made it to Vlaardingen. As I tried to dive the Nieuwe Waterweg, I felt an overwhelming pull towards the center of the waterway, where the gigantic container ships are pushing through. There was no other choice but to cling on to an iron beam that happened to be sticking out of the water and wait for help. A group of retired seamen, who come to watch seafaring vessels at the Europoort, soon took notice of my plight. One of them, a man who has the vastness of the ocean burnt into his eyes, is in the habit of carrying a rope with an anchor in his car at all times. With a proud sense of honorable duty, which soon turned into amusement, he pulled me out of the water, joking with his buddies about his catch of the day.
It was clear that taking this main industrial route, the Nieuwe Waterweg, would be too much of a hazard at this point. To those currents, a human body means nothing more than any floating piece of garbage. I needed to dive a detour, so I took a swift, sharp left into the Delfskanal. This is a much narrower body of water, going right through the center of Rotterdam. The canal looked very still and peaceful, and I was looking forward to a calm, introverted dive. I instructed Piet to film this sequence in perfect balance, keeping the water line at the classic golden section, moving very slowly, almost sluggishly, like you would move through mud.
The water was much cooler than I expected. Visibility was lower than ever. Holding my hand before me I could barely make out my five fingers. Yes, it felt claustrophobic. But you should have seen those colors! The mud revealed a stunning spectrum of ever-changing shades, continuously shifting from grayish green to almost neon yellow, then to reddish brown and back to grey. Looking upwards, I could make out glitters of sun and the most intense, perfect mid-blue tint of the sky. I turned onto my back, diving face up, feeling sucked towards the sky. Any sense of time or gravity had disappeared.
Suddenly I felt a deep certainty that I should come up, perhaps to find some orientation. The moment I reach the surface, I hear Piet scream in utter panic: KLAARAAAA!!!! KLAAAAAARAAAAA!!!! This was the primal scream of mortal fear, a yell that is still sitting in my bones. What? I didn´t see anything. I turned around. A container ship is rolling straight towards me, this mass of steel, tall as a building, oh shit, I swam and swam I don´t even think I had time to breathe.
16.03. – 13.04.2013
The Art Of Escaping By A Hairsbreath
Groupshow with Shahin Afrassiabi, Eli Cortiñas, Matthias Dornfeld, Gotscha Gosalishvili, Klara Hobza, Benja Sachau, Henning Strassburger
The Art Of Escaping By A Hairsbreadth
The photographs by Shahin Afrassiabi feature solitary figures and details of ordinary movements in familiar, but probably unknown, settings. The scenes originate in street views taken from the internet, easily accessible and widely known. They are first visualized on a computer screen and then photographed using a basic digital camera. The final result is an overlap of levels that produce depth while recording a stratification of details and imperfections. Somewhere between the places in which the elements on show arise and the processing they subsequently undergo, a gap between accessibility and distance forms and grows.
The footage used in Eli Cortiñas’s unsettling video installation There Is No Place Like Home is taken from the 1939 fantasy movie The Wizard of Oz. The installations shows the protagonist of the movie, the innocent farm-girl Dorothy Gale, who continuously repeats the phrase “there’s no place like home” in an almost trance‐like state. At the same time she desperately clicks the heels of her sparkling pair of red shoes. Cortiñas takes this iconic scene and transforms it into its unsettling opposite through minimal manipulation: by simply clicking her magical heels three times, Dorothy should be able to travel back to her hometown in Kansas. But instead of arriving back at home, the little girl is gets lost in a black void in between spaces. Cortiñas’s installation seems to be the artistic visualization of Marc Augé’s concept of a non-lieux (‘non-place’). Augé coined the term to describe specific kinds of transitory spaces in our society, designed to be passed through or consumed rather than appropriated, and retaining little or no trace of our engagement with them. Marc Augé’s non-places are spaces in between where „people are always, and never, at home”.
Matthias Dornfeld dissolves forms in his paintings and with this mechanism produces new forms. But this dissolution, unlike the abstractions of post-war modernism, is not first and foremost an expression of doubt or a critical rejection of reality. There is indeed room for doubt in Matthias Dornfeld’s pictures, but there is first of all a great love of life and an almost naive meta-modern sensibility inherent in his paintings. His paintings are at once vigorous and direct, tender and delicate.
Gotscha Gosalishvili is a self-proclaimed Social mannerist. He mainly works with objects that he finds in second-hand stores. With his affection for every man’s treasures, Gosalishvili adds painterly gestures to highlight the bliss of private homes and the beauty of everyday life’s banality. His modified object trouvés are elevated into pieces of art. Through his ‘second hand art’ Gosalishvili seems genuinely to try to diminish the border between high and popular culture. He tries to create an anti-hierarchical ideal that celebrates the treasures of everyday life and its rich material culture. Gosalishvili’s art seems to analyze culture’s relationship to materiality as a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed. This artistic mechanism mirrors an anthropological interest in material culture.
You may have heard of the Old Testament story where the small shepherd David defeats a grim giant. Klara Hobza’s artistic oeuvre summons her inner giant slayer as well, and challenges the boundaries of the possible with varied ambitious endeavors. There is an amusing discrepancy between her gigantically proportions projects and what would be conventionally understood as possible. In her current ongoing project, Diving Through Europe, Hobza plans to scuba dive from the North Sea to the Black Sea through various water channels over a period of twenty or thirty years. In March 2012, after 3 years of diligent training, Hobza finally entered the river system, at the water mouth of the North Sea, close to Rotterdam. The image Europoort is a direct result from the artists confrontation with the forces of nature and the industrial landscape of the biggest port in Europe, Europoort. However, the delighted optimism of her artistic practice seems to pause for a moment in Europoort when faced with the cold and stormy reality of her exhausting endeavor. The sphere of imagination clashes here directly with the world of reality. Only time will tell if Hobza’s art will be able to beat its personal Goliath or if she surrenders to reality.
Benja Sachau examines the processes of making interdisciplinary art. He appropriates methodological frameworks from science to create art works that oscillate between the poles of science, belief and pseudo-science. In his rhizomatic art he freely connects theories from diametrically different disciplines and positions with one another. Therefore, he challenges the separate categories of science, pseudo-science and religious belief. His artistic research is a non-centered and non-hierarchical system that seems to be solely defined by a circulation of different states. Any theory or concept in his artistic system can be connected freely to any other one. Sachau’s artwork hereby elevates the non-real to the status of the real in order to cast the epistemological status of both into doubt. In this sense his complex drawings, objects and installations can be seen as a postmodern criticism of a rational understanding of reality.
The central theme in Henning Strassburger’s artistic oeuvre is its ambitious drive for intermediality. However, painting remains the point of departure and announces itself as a transition to process, a process that evolves into ever recurring figural elements from non-figurative painting characterized by the heavy application of paint and a gestural ductus. Strassburger’s works ask the general questions: what is painting as such? What is its subject? At what point does the image become an illustration, the motif a style?
03.11. – 15.12.2012
Henning Strassburger Indexternal
in|d|ex|ternal: internally, located on the interior / a sign having its sign-constituting character in a secondness or an existential relation to its object. An index requires an individual existence of both itself and its object / located outside, or outwardly.
Painting? Installation? Collage? Print? Photography? Video? Performance? Henning Strassburger has already answered these questions.
His oeuvre is driven by intermediality. His work, propelled by innovation, never standing still, is always focussed on the negation of repetition. Despite its intermediality, pure painting remains the point of departure for his oeuvre and announces itself as a transition to process; a process that evolves into ever recurring figural elements from non-figurative painting characterised by the heavy application of paint and a gestural ductus.
A scrutinizing of the subject and its meaning within his painting is taken as its central theme. Painting and its conventional motifs are to be replaced. The search for a stand-in for his original painting begins on this path and finds itself in the displacement of abstract form to the edge of the image. Colour fields are set at the centre of the pictorial space, in a CMYK array for instance. The canvas starts to oscillate between pure painting and print-aesthetic approaches. The colour plane moves to the centre and becomes the bearer of meaning. Strassburger’s operations throw up the questions: What is painting as such? What is its subject? At what point does the image become an illustration, the motif a style?
Strassburger’s transformative process begins, making pure figuration out of what was initially still an emphatically corporeal style at the edges of the image. Elements such as ears or door handles act as stand-ins for his hitherto customary gestural painting. The ‘internal’ motif, whether figurative or abstract, no longer stands in any necessary relation to his ‘external’ painting. Strassburger provokes a scrutiny of borders and prompts the viewer to critically examine his perception. The differentiated implementation of this form of intelligent painting always intentionally prescribes for itself the same inference, though it is provided with other subjects. This gives rise to a formal vocabulary that can be variably deployed on the bearer of the image. His painterly process thereby attains a freedom that cannot be derived from rule.
Painting is an adventure embarked upon – a disengagement from the classical value system. Henning Strassburger formulates new questions of motif and style. He looks for their stand-ins. Answer or expedient: indexternal painting. Jan Kaps
06.09. – 27.10.2012
Eli Cortiñas Neither Glance Nor Glory
Neither Glance Nor Glory
Neither Glance Nor Glory is Eli Cortiñas’ first exhibition at Soy Capitán. The central work in the exhibition is the video Perfidia, which is based on Luis Buñuel’s 1972 film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Buñuel spent his life concerned with representing high society, something on which he placed a „best before“ date. He was unswerving in his attempts to expose the decadence of their perfidious intent to enrich themselves at the cost of others.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is about six members of the bourgeoisie – two rich French married couples, a young woman and the corrupt Ambassador of Miranda, a fictitious Latin American country – who plan a stylish yet intimate dinner. The dinner, however, is postponed again and again due to constant incidents and misunderstandings. The guests come on the wrong day, for instance, or the hosts just have to sleep with each other right now, leaving their guests to wait in vain for twenty minutes before they depart, mystified.
Cortiñas references a single scene of the original film, in which the group is taken out of its usual habitat and placed in a rural setting. Mute and without a clearly defined destination, they walk along a country lane like a foreign species.
Cortiñas‘ appropriation – which, in an extreme reduction, concentrates precisely these elements into a two-minute montage loop – creates with its repetitive rhythm a hypnotic drag that thwarts the absurdity of the scenery and the seemingly artificial composition of the images. The artist, with a decided radicalism in her use of materials, creates a work that transcends time. The frugality of the arc of suspense within her micro mise-en-scène lends even small gestures such as simply tying a shoelace an overemphasis and great suspense. Whereas Cortiñas‘ previous video works has switched between English, French and Spanish, in this instance she has categorically rejected language, which makes the work universal and transferable.
As her usual practice, the titles of her works are the result of a well thought-out process. The title Perfidia can be traced back both to a famous Bolero song and to the word perfidy, with its connotations of base deception in a military confrontation, such as the use of camouflage and misinformation and trapping the opponent by pretending to surrender. The artist creates a bridge to the bourgeoisie or, rather, to heedless assertion of one‘s own advantage to the detriment of the common good.
In her collages and object arrangements, too, Cortiñas creates an ambiguous and affirmative transparency for the projection of constructed outlooks of the emotional, ideological, cultic and banal role plays of a generation vaunted in the media as ‘lost’.
Great Thoughts On A Lost Generation, an assemblage of collage elements, metal rods, a found wooden object and balloons, gives us, like Hanging Balls While Climbing Up The Social Ladder, examples of the playful and post-surreal interaction with reflections and materials of every origin, which the artist charges either scantly and directly, or obscurely.
Gotscha Gosalishvili Rückblick
The relationship between art and junk is a repeated source of irritation. It causes a tightrope walk between two extremes. Either you think art made of junk is the height of impudence or you end up praising it as a stroke of genius. We‘re left with a sense of provocation, confusion and scandal, and all too often this tension sends recipients on the warpath. And for what? So that at the end of the day a Beuys or a Kippenberger are forced to watch in disbelief as the question is asked whether their works are art or whether they can go to the bin. Born in 1971 in Georgia, artist Gotscha Gosalishvili, on the other hand, seems to have found a devious method to bypass this tension, with his conversion pieces. Even though he works with discarded pieces, objects and works of art, there is a difference in his approach. After all, no matter how small the amount, he actually goes out and spends cash on the things he transforms into his art – or which he declares as such.
The thing that drives him in this process of finding and refashioning other people‘s art and canvases is the search for a new evaluation or to try and trick any attempts at evaluating other works of art. The works he finds, transforms and repositions in this new art context are typically looked down upon as amateurish, as mere handicrafts. Gosalishvili doesn‘t subscribe to that. In fact, he sees the contrary. By embellishing strange sculptures, odd series of pictures and other seemingly pointless objects with his painting, he creates a new perspective of what was previously a result of someone‘s hobby. He aims to find out whether there might not be a touch of genius hidden in these pictures or objects normal society has created. He‘s not being patronizing or sarcastic. He isn‘t in it for the ridicule. Instead, he feels and visualizes a type of affection. You could even say respect.
If the handicraft pieces Gosalishvili finds have one thing in common, and one thing that differentiates them from the official, highly capitalist art industry, then it is their spontaneity, the freedom that belies the creative process. You could almost claim Gosalishvili envies the artists for their distance from any forms of expectations. How they don‘t in the slightest consider the art industry when they set about sculpting and painting. For him, these discarded pieces of what we have come to consider as scrap or junk reflect society in its purest form. The art market doesn‘t deliver these types of perspectives or answers. It can camouflage, it can mask, it can decorate. But it seldom takes the liberty of making any statements. The inventory in a thrift store or second-hand shop, on the other hand, therefore offers him a much more immaculate canvas – no matter how questionable the definitions of the works may be (art, painting, sculpture, handicrafts). That‘s why he is more than willing to accept the patina, the traces of nicotine, the small or large imperfections.
The approach Gosalishvili then adopts is to mutate the themes, circumstances, the histories he finds in the pieces. He accentuates the seemingly invisible traces they already manifest. In doing so, he gets the viewer to adopt a new perspective in future for that which we may – with hindsight – have considered of no value. It still irritates. It‘s also highly provocative. But it isn‘t scandalous. Quite the opposite, in fact. The scandal lies in the fact that nobody has previously considered this option. The shame is the that this tension between the institutionalised art industry and its twilight world in real society have never been illuminated like this. We may not need applaud Gosalishvili. We should probably be applauding the original creators; but we should at least appreciate his contribution. Oliver Köhler
Shahin Afrassiabi New Values
A minimal and unobtrusive wooden structure runs through the gallery. It delimits an abstract, rigorously geometric framework and somehow acts as if it were a recollection, reminding us of a modernist utopia, the clarity of vision, the vocabulary of minimal forms and simplicity that composed its substance. By means of available, rough materials and tools, the matter itself and its quality emerge before the form. The work’s materiality is
the prominent characteristic: it defines, in equal measure all the elements disseminated therein. Basing the process on the possibilities disclosed by the use of provisional means, a formally equivocal whole is assembled foregrounding the signs of labour and quality, in both the ethical and economic sense.
This work is in a constructive dialogue with painting, its materiality and image. In addition it is a matter of interpolating (in mathematics interpolating signifies the insertion of an intermediate value or term into a series by estimating or calculating it from surrounding known values) apparently disconnected forms of life, the structure and the photograph.
The photographs feature solitary figures and details of ordinary movements in familiar, but probably unknown, settings. The scenes originate in street views taken from the Internet, easily accessible and widely known. They are firstly visualized on a computer screen and then photographed using a basic digital camera. The final result is an overlap of levels that produce depth while recording a stratification of details and imperfections. Somewhere between the places in which the elements on show arise and the processing they subsequently undergo, a gap between accessibility and distance forms and grows.
The question, as I see you have alluded to, is the question of what one is looking at: whether it is the figure, the computer screen, the dust on the screen. I think you mentioned distance. I would also add duration.
Finally, what we see is the result of progressive ‚differing‘, in terms of both space and time.
04.02. – 10.03.2012
A piece of paper, a canvas, a piece of linoleum – a line incised, or in charcoal, graphite, biro or oil paint. The line becomes a woman, a flower, a vase, a bunch of flowers, a suggestion of a room, a landscape, a face, many faces.
A new piece of paper, a new canvas, a new linoleum: a new line, another woman, another flower, another vase, another face.
Or did the colour come first? Cinnabar green and madder lake, caput mortuum, ivory black, cadmium yellow, cobalt violet, ultramarine… planes of colour collide with one another, are layered on top of one another, removed again, applied again – until, out of the colours and lines, a picture has emerged on the canvas.
These paintings are distinguished by a sensual directness and an attitude of openness, equally the linocuts and the drawings on paper.
The dissolution of forms produces new forms – but this dissolution, unlike the abstractions of post-war modernism, is not first and foremost an expression of doubt. There is room for doubt in Matthias Dornfeld’s pictures, but at the same time one also sees in them a great love of things and of life itself. They are at once vigorous and direct, tender and delicate. The dark and the uncanny encounter beauty, lightness and sensuality. Abstraction and empathy: lines and colours become ever new figures, faces, bunches of flowers, both prototypical and individual. They are timeless, but with a presence that is absolutely contemporary. A new piece of paper, a new canvas, a new piece of linoleum, a new line ___________
03.12.2011 – 21.01.2012
Egemen Demirci Registrierung / Kayit / Registration
Registrierung / Kayit / Registration
Registration at Soy Capitán is Egemen Demirci’s first solo statement in Berlin. The exhibition is composed of algorithmic combinations that take his visions of public space as a departure point, melting the white cube in a pot with the neo-liberal city. His technique of abstraction translates codes of public access using virtual mapping systems such as Google Earth. By bringing together sites by which the public registers Berlin – Alexanderplatz, the Museum Island, Potsdamer Platz and Checkpoint Charlie – he „renders“ his own presence in the city through forms of conceptual abstractions that deal with how neo-liberal urban space is constructed by models of interaction, communication and mobility.
Such virtual and visceral experiences provide a critical standpoint for the artist to re-imagine and re-formulate our perception of the institution – in this specific context an art related one: a start-up gallery in a rapidly changing part of the city. Demirci takes the space as a literal reference point by analysing its material and directly addressing the gallery building. Thus the reality and location of the architecture are retained, the materiality of the abstract preserved. Demirci evokes the bureaucratic connotations of the word „registration“ alongside the visual meaning embedded in its German cognates, advancing it as a term that impacts perceptual experience.
Egemen Demirci, born 1983 in Izmir / Turkey, received his BA in Visual Arts program at Sabancı University in Istanbul (2005) and his MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies program at Bauhaus University in Weimar (2009). In 2010 Demirci contributed to the multi-space exhibition project „correct me if I’m critical“ curated by Adnan Yıldız in Berlin. His first solo presentation „Taksim 2010-11“ was on view at yama in Istanbul during Summer 2011. He lives and works in Berlin.
06.09.2011 – 05.11.2011
Klara Hobza Prequel
For her exhibition, Prequel Klara Hobza has developed a signalling device and a simple doorbell installation as part of a nocturnal campaign that uses Morse code to get in touch with the citizens of Berlin.
Prequel is an amalgamation of performance, historical material, and site-specificity, in which Hobza again takes up a project she started in New York in 2004: Morse Code Communication
She contrasts this outmoded method of telecommunication with the pace of everyday life in the twenty-first century: our smartphones, e-mails, and social networking sites. Besides occupying public space immaterially, she also provides an impressive demonstration of one private individual’s attempt to communicate with the public using manageable means that nevertheless have their own heroic connotations.
Hobza’s artistic practice combines sculpture, video, photography, drawing, and conceptual approaches, as well as performance and narrative content. Her intentions are more than merely absurd and obsessive – they also strive for precision. Their themes deal with central questions about proximity and alienation, about our dreams and our failures. With an almost casual ease, her simple, unpretentious work engenders a confrontation with issues of communication, cultural criticism, and self-awareness.
27.04. – 11.06.2011
Benja Sachau doppelblind
„It is not possible to define. Nothing has ever been finally found out. Because there is nothing final to find out.“
– Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned (1919)
A double-blind study is a form of experiment in which neither the test subjects nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group. This eliminates the influence of expectations and behaviour that could result from the knowledge of such information.
Benja Sachau is part of an experiment. Inspired by cults, scientific and paranormal phenomena, he adapts structures and processes and references them in his work. By converting and interfering with their circuits, Sachau individualises mass-produced objects such as cheap toys and shaving equipment, loads them with pens and sets them drawing within a test situation. Drawing with electricity is an entirely logical decision for him because of the superficial invisibility of electrical circuits, like the structures of religious associations, companies or states. He produces and modifies drawing systems until their mechanical character disappears and abstraction emerges. He sets his subjects to work alone or against one another, manipulates them, draws with them and draws conclusions from his results.
The more machines there are on the experiment table, the higher the factor of reciprocal manipulation, the lower the degree to which each drawing unit is able to exercise its own drawing principle. The drawing is seemingly individualised as a result of these manipulations. Sachau calls this paradox the reciprocal formation of consciousness, a submission up to the point of that self-renunciation which he also sees in sects.
The Japanese para-scientist Masaru Emoto has had water molecules blessed by Buddhist monks and claims that molecules can be modified by thought. Sachau subjects one drawing machine to the influence of a non-drawing machine projecting a pre-space-age creation theory. The result is a drawing where saucers are discernible to those who want to see them. The drawings are finely condensed abstractions in which nebulous forms take shape. They function as Rorschach tests in that perceived associations can be traced back to the subjective reality of the viewer.
While Sachau’s installations deal with alternative worldviews and phenomena of perception, his sculptures take on biomorphic, cultic forms. They are often symbolic positions that function as a link to the drawings, thriving on a mental construct whereby everything has to do with everything. Sachau’s art is an abstract parallel world that takes structures, controls and manipulation as its subject matter and derives nourishment from the absurdity of creation.
12.03. – 21.04.2011
Nathan Peter Before Old Glory
It is 10:45, legible over the 11th platform of the train station. Waiting under the time table, a person looks closely at the photo in his hands. He looks with pure attention, focused on one point. He looks in the eyes of the person in the photo. How can he know the only thing that doesn’t change on a human face are the eyes. He looks awkward and embarrassed, like the trainers who work with magnificent animals, finding themselves at a moment of reckoning summed up in those deep and difficult eyes. Will he recognize who he’s waiting for after all these years by looking into his eyes? Maybe he has never met him before. A moment of getting together. It may also be the beginning of a detective’s interrogation.
He looks at the photo desperately; those deep and difficult eyes have been frozen for all time. There is an unyielding mystery, a long-forgotten clue from the past that belongs to the person arriving on this train.
Although he is not aware of my presence, I got into the habit of taking a picture of this street at exactly 10:45 everyday. This one is fresh from my minilab. That trash bin has become the guardian of that corner. Here it is in this photograph as well; not surprising me anymore. I feel the gaze of a pair of eyes under its lid. It caught my attention one week ago; he always closes the lid on the same side so that some fresh air may get in. He tries to hide away in vain. There must be a human hand placing the lid compulsively the same way everyday. He must be following something very important since he has been there all this time, patiently. Now that he is there, I also started to look at the exact part of the building that must be visible from that measured gap. My gut feeling says this cannot be solely coincidence.
There, a woman sits across her; I can read her face on the other. She may be crying at this moment. But why?
Obviously she will leave the table very soon. Without a further word or goodbye.
Good guess. Her eyes are moist; discernible in the second photo. Here the other one is standing now. She stares indifferently, looking a bit arrogant and mysterious.
Returning back to New York streets may heal her. The bistro she was working at was just a breathing moment. She will let the city take her over in spite of everything. Tired of the fight. She looks a bit lost yet transformed.
Here is another pic. She turns towards the backside of the street. New York was always stalking her.
The last pic. She is not there anymore.
Taking a picture of time; don’t ask where I got the idea from. You don’t need to be master of the universe to picture time. Just spare five minutes of your day and reclaim that point you have always known; and shoot. Everyday. You will be surprised to see how time takes up its space in the frame.
It’s been 4 years since I started this business. For you I chose 30th November. 10:45.
Crossroads. Brickstone buildings. Small shops; here a second hand record store, there a bakery, the rest is desolate for the moment. I am Serge by the way, I have a 24/7 cornershop at my back.
It is 10:45. An elderly woman leaves the building with the second hand shop, holding a bag, lost in thoughts.
Across, a young woman passing the street is lost in the song she is listening to on her headphones. They don’t acknowledge each other.
One year gone, the elderly woman always passing at the same time is not there anymore. The record store is still there, but a newspaper kiosk appears. The same young woman shops at the kiosk. Winter seems to have arrived earlier, the trees lining the street readied for the approaching cold.
It is 10:45 again. The store opening at 10:00 is still closed. A teenager is trying to squirm into the store. Who knows which precious record he is after before anybody else today. It is still autumn. Some dudes are collecting leaves. The same young woman crosses the same street rolling a big trolley. People may not recognize her in their daily indifference but I see how her eyes shine from the point I am standing.
In fact, we are no more moved by a past we are busy inventing, than by a present we are busy denying.
22.01. – 05.03.2011
Shahin Afrassiabi & Miroslav Tichy SEAM a didactic model
SEAM a didactic model
In both sets of works composition and framing are so precise – in the sense of mechanistic – as to annihilate the subject matter, in some cases what you may recognise is literally breaking up or fading away. My image of the doubled figure is really an image of a seam where a machine has stitched a surface together. As Tichy’s figures fade away, they draw attention to a bouncing light that emanates from a place just below that surface which is demarcated by stains, dust and pencil.
Tichy is the prophet of spectrality. He is not a witness or documenter rather, his pictures attest to his own status as beggar or exile watching others who no longer notice him. There are those rare moments of recognition of course but they only serve to accentuate the state which he re-iterates through his lens and upon his surfaces.
Inevitably a kind of comparison is encouraged by this coexistence in one room from which a fissure in time presents itself, the time of Tichy’s spaces and that of mine. An effect of new media and technologies is the neu-tralization of the gaze. It is possible to demonstrate that the light which the eyes filter is the light emanating from the stitched surface of a spectral reality, a shimmering curtain behind which nothing is concealed but an-other surface. These surfaces slide across one another but manage to maintain a fixed relationship to the always disappearing subject. Now, spectrality may be all, inviolable, multi-directional and neutral. From Tichy’s pic-tures to mine a shift occurs not only in time but also topologically. Tichy moved around Kyjov, Moravia. I don’t actually move but edit the images produced by a moving machine. My lens is like a passe-partout framing the light through the street-view camera. The surface of my picture has a 1:1 relationship with the surface of the screen which is in between the two lenses. The resulting photograph is a screen, Tichy’s also, but the surface Tichy presents photographically is of a different kind. His photographs are a medium through which he registers a perpetual fade-out, reinforced by the marks on the surface, a world always receding.
Since the invention of photography we have access to realities through the mediation of a visible screen. This indexicality may yet prove to be a sign of a mysterious shift in the way we imagine the subject which is not confined to conventions of representation or their other variant which is ‚embodiment‘. Tichy represents a con-dition, I (re)present a mutation. This is my historical and material determination. Shahin Afrassiabi