The Art Of Escaping By A Hairsbreath • Shahin Afrassiabi, Eli Cortiñas, Matthias Dornfeld, Gotscha Gosalishvili, Klara Hobza, Benja Sachau, Henning Strassburger • 16.03.–13.04.2013

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?