The presence of the past is Katja Strunz’s subject, the fold is her method, metal and paper her material. The work is about getting from A to B—what it means, why we care—and in this way, about the relationship between space and time. The daunting continuum!
The traumatized body folds time. Traumatic experiences are not processed like memories, instead they get stuck, stored in the body. In psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk’s 2014 bestseller The Body Keeps the Score, he describes how trauma “comprises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive,” revealing the physical dimension to the continuous reliving of the past that mires people with PTSD. In the present, survivors experience their traumas as fragmented images, sounds and emotions that the brain can’t register as belonging to the past.
In angular flaps and folds, Strunz renders ruptures and intrusions. Metal fans into delicate shapes in neutral tones. Pages of old books find new form, spliced and overlapping. Suspended, sharp angles assume a softness. If life isn’t linear, the present hardly present, is this what it looks like?
The train folded time too, collapsing distances like accordion bellows. In an 1841 newspaper column, Heinrich Heine ventured, “Space is killed by the railways, and we are left with time alone.” Compressing space increases time. The train careening through 19th century towns laden with symbolism, and the planes and rockets that captured the 20th century imagination, find no visual equivalent today. It is the invisibility of data farms or undersea cables, not their image, that captures our age of acceleration. Strunz’s folds abstract these paradigm shifts. The sculptures give shape to the way progress simultaneously contracts and expands perspective. It’s about how time is money, a need for speed, but there’s also a tempering. Like a big zoom out. A recalibration. Wherever you go, there you are.
In her fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, the artist shows new small-scale sculptures, some of which she has coloured in parts for the first time. The sculptures stand in dialogue with Strunz’s signature paper collages and pulp paintings: large, two-dimensional folded collages from handmade paper laid on canvas.