Much of Gedi Sibony’s work appears to make a somewhat paradoxical connection between improvisation and refinement. Or, in fact, Sibony succeeds in making that connection seem precisely not paradoxical.
Normally using objects made of plywood and cardboard, Sibony’s work often evokes a deliberate ‘poorness’ (as in ‘Arte Povera’), if not barrenness. A restrained palette of colors, consisting of browns, greys, and beiges, and seemingly makeshift arrangements heighten this impression. For his second show at Galerie Neu, Sibony is still incorporating what is “at hand,” objects found at all moments in the activity of operating in life and with objects, from which he creates an orchestration intricate in color and detail.
Almost as if revisiting notions of reduction and ‘literalism’ that were articulated in the 1960s, Sibony’s practice also connects the contingent object with the realm of sculptural and pictorial values. What might usually be too mundane to be noticed shows something beyond its ‘bare’ presence. How does the universe reveal itself? How is this articulated as a puzzle? The sophisticated elegance found in an old radiator or a crudely crafted foam core presentation model are activated like parts in a machine as the room unwinds itself for encounters. While a foam core sculpture hints at figurative elements, a series of found drawings that are framed with their verso side showing lead, so to speak, out of the realm of the pictorial toward the object, as if in a reversal of the process outlined above.
Sibony’s exhibitions are finely tuned to the respective space. And in that, he leaves enough openness to let the materials and forms develop a life of their own.
until June 23, 2012
Cerith Wyn Evans. Constructed Situation
In his second exhibition at the belle etage on Mehringdamm 72, Cerith Wyn Evans presents a fourteen meter long neon-work that extends through all three main rooms of the exhibition space. Following the enfilade-like succession of the rooms, the neon spells out a quote from Jimi Hendrix’ 1968 song Voodoo Child:
“If I don’t meet you no more in this world. Then I’ll, I’ll meet you in the next one. And don’t be late, don’t be late…”
Throughout his practice, Wyn Evans works extensively with references taken from art, literature, and popular culture, from which he develops dense yet elegant installations, addressing questions of translating and (re-)interpreting these resources. At Mehringdamm 72, to read the sentence viewers have to walk along the work, so that the act of reading is experienced as a temporal and spatial process. The title of the exhibition, Constructed Situation, explicitly echoes Situationist theory. Viewed in this light, Wyn Evans’ use of a quote from a Hendrix song is also a détournement, an attempt to reveal or rather create nuances in what might have congealed into an all too romantic model of transgression.
Of course, an exhibition is itself literally a constructed situation. Wyn Evans highlights this in a second installation in an adjacent room, where he creates a new version of the interior-like scenario presented in the same room during his 2008 exhibition at Mehringdamm 72. It includes a large-scale drawing by Pierre Klossowski, an antique Persian rug, and a potted plant on a revolving base. Interweaving all these elements into an atmospheric and temporal fabric, Wyn Evans folds the past into the present, just as he projects the present into the future in his neon work in the main space.
until June 23, 2012
Anna Blessmann and Peter Saville. Swing Project 2
Anna Blessmann and Peter Saville’s Swing Project explores notions of promiscuity and consequent hybridization in the fields of cultural and intellectual exchange. Incorporating materials and forms that lend themselves to physical contact, to being touched, to being in touch with the body, the works in Swing Project 2 explicitly address the ‘viewer’ as a ‘user’, and further the work is ‘completed’ only when it is engaging the viewer/user in interaction. This suggests a collaborative approach, not only in terms of Blessmann and Saville (who come from different art and design backgrounds) working together, but also of inviting participation.
The first object visitors encounter in the exhibition is a large, free-standing mirror, which could be a work on display as much as an architectural element. As one faces an image of oneself, one reads the invitation “PLEASE TOUCH THE WORK” engraved into the mirror. A neon work in the same irregular script addresses the visitors in a similarly direct manner; asking “IS IT YOUR FIRST TIME HERE? ”, it suggests a typical small talk situation, but also hints at Galerie Neu’s recent relocation to Mehringdamm 72.
The chiasm of the sensual and the social is most explicit in Treffpunkt (a meeting point), an interwoven geometric form in longhaired Icelandic sheepskin that allows for persons to ‘enter’ it simultaneously and thus entails (potentially anonymous) body contact. The vision of promiscuity that Blessmann and Saville propose also implies an awareness of “what is happening around oneself”, as they put it in conversation––an inter- and trans-disciplinary attention, i.e., for various, already overlapping contexts such as art, architecture, design, fashion or entertainment culture. Reflecting what Blessmann and Saville observe as characteristic of today’s situation, this emphasis is decidedly contemporary. Entering the Purple Box, which was already shown in the exhibition Swing Project 1 at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims in 2010, one enters a space inside the exhibition space that offers elements of relaxed lounging in dimmed purple light. While a faint scent of eucalyptus hints at the cleansed atmosphere of a sex club, the overall situation adapts elements from another semi-private sub-cultural space, namely that of a dance club’s chill out zone. The transparent, coloured Perspex-front creates a situation in which visitors entering the Purple Box can look outside, but, in a way, also become exposed themselves – seeing and being seen.
The two Memory Form works address further questions of usability, body-consciousness, collaboration, and image-production that are as relevant to art as they are to living. Visitors are invited to lie down in sculptural colour forms made from visco-elastic foam. Their body weight leaves imprints that remain visible before the material returns to its original shape. The process is filmed and displayed in the room, enabling them to watch themselves as they complete the work and leave their individual, temporary mark.
until June 23, 2012