Angela Bulloch’s show Heavy Metal Body and Anri Sala’s first solo exhibition with the gallery Take Over also inaugurate the gallery’s new space at Potsdamer Strasse 81E in Berlin, Germany, and openend concurrently with Gallery Weekend Berlin 2017.
Featuring a major new sound and video installation and a large-scale drawing project by Anri Sala, the exhibition Take Over addresses central themes in Anri Sala’s oeuvre, exploring the relationships between music and narrative, architecture and film and interleaving qualities of different media in both complex and intuitive ways to produce works in which one medium takes on the qualities of another.
A conceptual point of departure for the central work Take Over are two well-known musical works, affiliated by an entangled political and cultural history, the Marseillaise and the Internationale. Written in 1792 the Marseillaise was closely tied to the French Revolution but also quickly spread to other countries where it became a symbol for the overthrow of oppressive regimes. Thus the 1871 lyrics of the Internationale were initially also set to the tune of the Marseillaise, until 1888 when its original music was composed and the song became the standard anthem of the socialist movement. Both anthems have undergone major changes in their political connotations: from revolution, restoration, socialism, resistance and patriotism, to additional associations with colonization and oppression in the second half of the twentieth century (as national anthems of France and the Soviet Union, respectively). Yet to this day their meaning remains in flux, as the two songs continue to be appropriated. Take Over makes audible the close relationship of these two political anthems and mines the musical kinship for traces of this changing symbolic significance.
Placed in the otherwise empty room for which it was conceived, Take Over first manifests as a contained architectural structure consisting of a central wall with angled glass panels. The two songs appear doubled in two complementary films. Each projected on one side of the projection wall, the films depict the keyboard of a Disklavier piano, played by a human player and animated by its programming. A variety of actions—rhythmic movements, single strokes, clusters, waves or bursts, transforms the keyboard into an animated landscape in black and white, of valleys and peaks. An anthem is also a central motif of Them Apples—44 drawings of individual apples from which a bite has been taken—arranged on the wall as notes on an imaginary score of the German national anthem. The individual images are created through drawing into consecutive layers of wet ink applied onto stone paper which is characterized by its lack of absorbency—the liquid slowly dries on the surface of the paper.
The bites, like fingerprints, are unique and belong to refugees the artist invited to participate. An integral part of the project that constitutes the conceptual and material basis for Sala’s drawings, was a three-day workshop, organized in cooperation with the public arts organization KurtKurt in Berlin-Moabit. The interaction with the refugees during these sessions in which artist’s studio and refugees produced objects, drawings, and photographs, created the conditions from which the drawing project departs— performative, time-based events which became drawings that incorporate this origin
Three new sculptures by Angela Bulloch which expand the body of work that Angela Bulloch has been developing since 2014, will be presented in a exible-use space adjacent to the main exhibition area. Each of the sculptures offers a distinct rhythm created by the variations in shape, size and color of its elements. The surface of the vertically assembled rhomboid shapes, painted in a combination of light, bright or dark colors, creates an optical illusion of pushing and pulling planes. Conceived within a digital imaging program, each stacked rhombus appears distinct while at the same time relating to the others. From one side the irregular aspect dominates, while from another the impression of a certain totemic regularity prevails. By using contemporary technology to transpose Euclidian geometry into a three-dimensional sphere, the artist conjures up sculptures in a weightless space, allowing virtuality and reality to coexist.
Drawing on her previous experiments with geometrical distortion, these new works expand in form and size. If the stylized geometry of Heavy Metal Tall Stack: Beige and Blues, which stands at more than three meters tall, recalls the formal aesthetics of Constantin Brâncuși’s sculptures, something about the appearance of Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Beige Three and Heavy Metal Stack of Four: Red Monster—three massive rhomboid elements for the former and a pyramid-like shape for the latter—associated with their title, invokes the idea of an anthropomorphic presence. By changing the appearance of each column in accordance to one’s point of view, Bulloch plays with our perception of sculptures while orchestrating our experience as gallery visitors. To envision the work in its entirety the viewer must circulate around the sculpture, which at times seems graphic—almost abstract—shifting between two and three dimensions. Here, the artist transfers major themes of Minimalism into the present, and more specifically, the aesthetic exploration of objects’ influence on spatial perception.
If each sculpture exists for itself, they also function as an ensemble, and form a dialogue with other categories of Bulloch’s works. Never Eat Cress—which refers to the mnemonic “Never Eat Cress, Eat Salmon Sandwiches and Remain Young” reminding us how to spell “necessary”— is a wall painting that echoes and adapts the rhomboid shapes of the sculptures in a two-dimensional plane. The artist confronts contemporary technology, used for the conception and realization of the work, to the long tradition of wall painting, addressing artists’ preoccupations linked to representation, form, and color. Angela Bulloch’s sculptures and wall paintings, like the rest of her oeuvre, manifest her interest in systems, patterns and rules, as well as the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics.
Angela Bulloch Heavy Metal Body
Anri Sala Take Over
Take Over features pianist Clemens Hund-Göschel.
28 April – 17 June 2017
Potsdamer Strasse 81E, 10785 Berlin
“Take Over” (installation view), 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy: the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin
(Left to right): Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Beige Three, 2017 // Heavy Metal Tall Stack: Beige and Blues, 2017 // Heavy Metal Stack of Four: Red Monster, 2017 //
Wall: Never Eat Cress, 2017 //
Photos: © Andrea Rossetti //
Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin.