Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa, Anne Pöhlmann, Monika Stricker, Bernhard Walter
September 15 – October 28, 2007
Unthemed group exhibitions, once also known as accrochage, are usually there to a) fill the summer gap and b) mollify all those artists who have long felt underrepresented by their gallery. But when a group of objects that at first glance seem so mismatched as the works by Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa, Anne Pöhlmann, Monika Stricker and Bernhard Walter are shown not only at the beginning of the season but as the first exhibition of a new-founded gallery, then what we have is another thing altogether: the artists make their praises known, so to speak, and with the show the gallery declares itself a place of exchange and encounter, a site where alternative models and projects are introduced and mediated between various positions and subjectivities.
Like the other three artists, JUAN PÉREZ AGIRREGOIKOA has selected a key work. Characteristic of his colorful, yet biting drawings and canvases is a forgoing of disinterested subjectivity. Many of his images are like memories, converging in the very things that the artist chooses to omit. Often they are so underlain with the trauma of life that the provocation lies not in the painting itself, but in its subtext. Even the minimal, linguistic style of the candy-colored calligraphy potpourri „Reject Work“ (2007) conceals more than it reveals; we’re never really sure if it’s the abysmally sad sigh of an unsuccessful artist or an anarchistic cry to everyone, a call to reject work of any kind.
While Agirregoikoa gathers his material in mass media, ANNE PÖHLMANN is on a foray through the city. Her particular interest lies in post-war architecture. The analysis of forms and their underlying architectural concepts, crucial to her earlier, mostly photographic works, has meanwhile evolved into a structural research on the visuality of social utopias. She works with both found and original material to create often installative presentations. „Wohnzeile“ (2007), a video consisting of several hundred shots of a gigantic Plattenbau in central Dresden’s Old Town, documents the serial character of the building, a quality just as clearly reflected in the carpet pattern as it is in the uniform architectural details. A moment of tension arises from the sheer endlessness of the images showing claustrophobic hallways and passages alone, one that seems borrowed from cinema. Absence becomes palpable, calling attention to things missing, man or rather his notion of Being. Thus the Plattenbau becomes a phenomenon interesting not only in terms of municipal architecture, but also as a study of social utopias, failed and redeemed.
MONIKA STRICKER investigates entirely different forms of utopia in her piece „The Mummy Returns“ (2007). The readymade – an original battle-ax from the blockbuster sequel to the remake of the 1932 Boris Karloff classic „The Mummy“- serves as a vehicle for discussing cultural history phenomenona through shifts in content. The object’s formal similarity to African wood objects, gathered and utilized, for aesthetic reasons, by classical modern artists (Picasso, Brancusi…) becomes apparent. It also refers back to its own material character – in film only soft plastics can be used safety reasons – back to the surrogates and fakes permeating the 1980s and even the soft sculptures of a certain Claes Oldenburg. At the same time the object also belays a story, one captured in the fantastic special effects of an action-packed horror film. Prototypically and with such a simple object, the artist poses questions as to how we situate ourselves in relation to cultural history and how it is possible to construct and think of spaces and things in such a context.
Questions of locating one’s own actions in the reference system of the past and still-imaginable future also characterize the work of BERNHARD WALTER, where the possible vantage points and explanation models for his sculptures and installations are just as enlightening as they are bewildering. It isn’t uncommon that the references trail back to his own dialectic perception and imagination, triggering successive non- or no-longer or re-comprehensibles even when they appear to help understand. Most undermine specific constellations of abiding certainties. What, for example, does the title – in this case „Woodstock“ – mean in relation to the work? Some neo-dadaistic corny joke about the material used? Or is Walter just the Heinz Ehrhardt of German art? Is sculpture – as the Denglish name suggests – really a tree stump, or is it an artificial, plastic object, an imitation of the natural version? And what does it have to do with the legendary rock festival of the same name? The sculpture’s minimal, white, hermetics offer no clear answers; the work finds completion only in the margins of the thinkable.