In line with the title of the current exhibition – Come together – all the artists involved with the Meyer Riegger Gallery have joined forces in Berlin to produce a communal exhibition of their work. Only a few months after the opening and inauguration of the new Berlin gallery space, the majority of our artists will be exhibiting for the first time in the Joachimsthaler/Schaperstraße. As a result, Come Together is a situational portrait of more than 20 years of the gallery’s programme. At this juncture, the newly acquired exhibition spaces and their subdivisions into circuit, chapel, ground floor and upper story form the architectural framework for connections and diverse comparisons along varying visual axes.
The artists Jonathan Monk, Silke Schatz, Armin Böhm, Jan Zöller and Franz Ackermann are represented here with ‘signature pieces’ – dense, concentrated references to the respective approaches of their individual oeuvres. Monk’s contribution takes the form of a sculptural mise en abyme of the number 45 – a pointer to his own age, to the age of the matchbox toy cars he deploys, and to their starting number. In a further volte, the display, based on a work of Robert Smithson’s from the year 1966, refers back to the year in which the original vehicle was first produced. Franz Ackermann has exemplary chosen a piece of furniture to present his recognizing and reappearing motifs, while Jan Zöller’s canvas introduces the fountain as well as the bird as both creative and iconographic signs and brand labels of his work.
Ulla von Brandenburg’s wall piece brings its own manner of production into play. Draped as a curtain, its lengths of fabric end as traces of colour – a reference both to the production process of the home-dyed material and to the illusory potential of painting and theatre. Meuser and Katinka Bock, for their part, conjoin decidedly sculptural gestures and narrative quality. A central role is played by the inherent dynamism of form and the changeability of the source material – for Bock, spatio-temporal processes are essential. In the exhibition, this becomes visible in the artist’s so-called “Warm Sculptures”, which are explicitly made of unfired and therefore less stable clay.
The artistic approaches of Henrik Håkansson, Melvin Moti and Björn Braun come together in the attention they pay to animal species and in the methods of their notation. Moti’s poster is devoted to the bird species of the ‘finch’, whose characteristic of experiencing the sleeping and waking state in identical manner points to the theme of the relationship between consciousness and control – also with respect to human beings.
In the works of Waldemar Zimbelmann, Anna Lea Hucht and Eva Kot’átková body and psyche appear in puzzling, ambiguous or fragile constellations. Kot’átková’s work “Head no.4: Lonely Head (Social Anxiety Disorder)” can be activated by the observer, who thus gives it a scenic re-charge in attempting to vicariously trace an emotional state.
Between such works and those of Miriam Cahn the relationship is more drastic. Their affect-arousing pictorial language and their vigorous painterly gestures, in which human actions convey psychological urgency, mark Cahn’s paintings. These realistic tendencies in Cahn’s oeuvre are countered by Uwe Henneken’s painting. Inspired by symbolism, it opens itself to the representation of phantasy-borne parallel worlds. Zara Idelson, on the other hand, approaches her subjects in a very different manner. The pictorial segment she has chosen of a fluidly and fluently depicted car journey quotes the close-ups and pointed narrative structures of comic strips.
In their works, Robert Janitz, Heike Aumüller and Scott Myles rely on the formal principle of overlay or interference. To this end, Aumüller’s print employs the surreal effects of a photographic alienation technique, while Janitz and Myles practise composition as the complex stratification of pictorial, material and sign levels.
Daniel Roth’s stone tablets summon up the image of a breeding ground on which forms abound and disport themselves. They seem to come to the surface as an organic web and weft or a flesh-like structure, held in only by the geometric ordering system of cartography and pictorial fields. In David Thorpe’s fresco, representation and material actually do intertwine: the image-bearer is partly made up of components of various plants (among them oak and hazel bush), which refer back to the work’s botanical motif. A similar theme is also recaptured in the work by Gabriel Vormstein showing a deconstructed sunflower on primed newspaper.
Other works in the exhibition are linked by their humorous approach. Ján Mančuška’s floor sculpture, “Accident”, drawn by footprints, contains a play on an action present in the poetry of everyday life – slipping, slithering or skidding – in which comedy and existential danger come together. Korpys/Löffler’s schnapps, distilled from one of Joseph Beuys’ wedges of fat, incarnates the artist-genius as a genie in a bottle. While taking to the extreme Beuys’ longstanding artistic concern with aggregate conditions, the work at the same time draws a portrait of the Rhineland artist. Jamie Isenstein’s wig sees itself as an allegory of the connection between beauty and transience, as it appears in the accessory headpiece employed for purposes of concealment.
Their performativity, process character and documentary methods link the works on display by Paulo Nazareth and Helen Mirra. The linear composition and the natural materials employed in “August Muir” stand in spatio-temporal relation to the extended walks Mirra undertakes. “Noticias de América” shows Nazareth against a background of politically connoted landscapes of Latin America – among them the sea as a symbol of colonial land seizure or of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In contrast, John Miller’s work takes the form of an installation, marked by a sky-blue wall zone. This forms the stage for a golden phallus sculpture, whose surface, reminiscent of excrement, jovially contrasts the spiritual and material spheres.
Alexandra Bachzetsis is represented in the exhibition with an artist’s book from the Centre culturel suisse. It contains choreographically arranged objects and photographs of dancers in body positions from Bachzetsis’s dance performance “Escape Act”, borrowed from the queer posing culture of “Vogueing” and Oskar Schlemmer’s “Triadisches Ballett” [Triadic Ballet] (1922). Enclosed by a wall-covering designed by Daniel Knorr on the outside towards Joachimsthaler Straße, all the above-mentioned positions in Come together are, in the final analysis, a symbol and emblem for the close co-operation of the gallery both with the artists who are its longstanding companions and with the most recent newcomers from Karlsruhe and Berlin.