Maria MVier

Vier

12.10 – 23.11.2019

 

sVrg1-5_DSC0813Vier, 2019, installation view

 

3_DSC0275Vier, 2019, installation view

 

4_DSC0620Vier, 2019, installation view

 

rg1-3_DSC0639Vier, 2019, installation view

 

rg3_DSC0702o. T. [ scarlet red and sap green ], 2019, Indian ink on chromolux, 70 x 100 cm

 

12_DSC0475Vier, 2019, installation view

 

9_DSC0629o. T. [ scarlet red and sap green ], 2019, Indian ink on chromolux, 70 x 100 cm

 

22_DSC0406Vier, 2019, installation view

 

13_DSC0395o.  T. , 2019, Stinging nettles,  black plastic, dimensions variable, detail

 

15_DSC0480o.  T. , 2019, Stinging nettles,  black plastic, dimensions variable, detail

 

20_DSC0482 o.  T. , 2019, Stinging nettles,  black plastic, dimensions variable, detail

 

23_DSC0752o. T. [black ], 2019, Indian ink on newsprint, 42 x 60 cm

 

26_DSC0755o. T. [black ], 2019, Indian ink on newsprint, 42 x 60 cm

 

28_DSC0780o. T. [black ], 2019, Indian ink on newsprint, 42 x 60 cm

 

pd_DSC0816Dear Fear, 2019, reading performance

 

When Adorno was writing his Aesthetic Theory in the 50s and 60s, he could still make the claim, now by all accounts obsolete, that the experience of art is akin to the experience of natural beauty.  “Authentic artworks,” he writes, “hold fast to the idea of a reconciliation with nature by making themselves completely a second nature.” Although already wary of man’s subjugation of nature,  Adorno still believed it was possible to find beauty, if not in nature, then in art that we experience as if it was nature. He would argue we find certain objects in nature beautiful because these present themselves in such a way that allow us to do so.  Artworks are like a second nature because they also allow us to find beauty in them. Genius is nothing more than the creative principle by which this second nature can be produced.

Postmodern and especially feminist critique put this association of natural beauty with the beauty of art into question. While there might be objects that seem to engender claims of beauty, these are by large culturally determined by race, gender or class. Genius is not an innate principle but a historical concept, very much misogynistic in origin, that by definition excludes women from the production of art. So what would it mean to address natural beauty in art now? How can one as an artist approach the problem of nature?

These are some of the questions central to Maria VMier’s practice, and especially to the body of work she presents at GiG Munich, developed during her recent residency at a remote location in Uckermark, near Berlin. On the one hand, the reading she presents to us is a result of her research into the closely connected structures of patriarchy, capitalism and disenchanted nature, taking into account both feminist critique and postcolonial discourse. On site at Uckermack she would walk with her audience to various locations in the surrounding countryside to reflect on her relationship to nature while also referring to our current ecological crisis (the burning of the amazon, climate change denial and climate activism), the political consequences of capitalism’s belief in progress for postcolonial struggles in the global south and ecofeminist attempts to define the common as future sites of resistance. In her writing there is a Thoreau-like longing for a simpler existence within nature as well as the rejection of  hipster or even non-western spirituality, tainted as it is by the colonial representation of the other.

On the other hand her drawings are not so dissimilar to the paintings by Wols that Adorno was writing about more than 60 years ago. Black, scarlet and sap green ink on paper, meandering and interweaving brushstrokes – these formal elements recall the conventions of lyrical abstraction and in their modernism seem to pursue the image of a second nature. But the work also acknowledges that if this image is to be achieved at all it must be done knowingly, the exhibition constructed in such a way to expose the dialectics involved in all our dealings with nature. The meandering arabesques of VMiers large drawings are done on paper more suited to digital printouts than the handmade; the delicate smaller works are pinned like specimens behind plastic covers; the shamanistic frame of drying stinging nettles is set above a shimmering floor of the same plastic sheeting that is used to kill weeds. VMier’s drawings pursue a second nature almost stubbornly, aware of all the historical, political and personal difficulties involved. 

Magdalena Wisniowska 2019

Maria VMier

Vier

12.10 – 23. 11. 2019

 

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Opening: 12.10.2019, 7 – 9 pm

Reading by the artist: 8 pm

 

GiG Munich is excited to present the exhibition, ‘Vier’ by Maria VMier, artist and collaborator, known for her work with Ruine München and the Hammann von Mier Verlag. VMier’s multidisciplinary practice has two distinct aspects. On the one hand there is her performative work, with its postfeminist, social and political references, on the other, her formal, abstract drawings on paper. For her GiG Munich exhibition she shows both – performance and drawing – developed during her recent residency in Uckermark, near Berlin, as part of the Libken e.V. Kunst & Umwelt fellowship.

The work is made in response to her remote location in Uckermark and the concept of nature, as well as our relation to it, forms a large part of exhibition. With her performance VMier acknowledges the feminist approaches to ecological concerns, endorsing an ecofeminism that demonstrates the close ties between the structures of capitalism, patriarchy and the disenchantment of nature. With her drawings, she subverts the traditional place of nature in aesthetic discussions of art. Utilising an abstract language of expressive signs, she shows that to identify with nature in the work of art need not be the privilege of the male genius, but can be rather, a postfeminist critical gesture.

Susanne Wagner

Angelina

29.03 – 11.05.2018

Angelina 1-2

Susanne Wagner, Angelina, 2018, installation view. Photo courtesy Susanne Wagner.

 

Angelina 2

Susanne Wagner, Angelina, 2018, 77 x 40 x 40 cm, painted ceramic. Photo courtesy Susanne Wagner.

 

Angelina 3
Susanne Wagner, Angelina, 2018, 77 x 40 x 40 cm, painted ceramic. Photo courtesy Susanne Wagner.

 

Angelina 4

Susanne Wagner, Angelina, 2018, 77 x 40 x 40 cm, painted ceramic. Photo courtesy Susanne Wagner.

 

Angelina 5

Susanne Wagner, Angelina, 2018, 77 x 40 x 40 cm, painted ceramic. Photo courtesy Susanne Wagner.

 

GiG Munich is excited to present Angelina, the solo exhibition by German video artist and sculptor, Susanne Wagner.

For the exhibition Wagner has produced a new body of work, a large-scale, site-specific floor installation consisting of seventy seven almost identical square ceramic tiles, each 40 x 40 cm individual tile topped by a slightly large than life dome of the female breast. These tiles are arranged in the exact centre of the room in a diagonal grid-like fashion, four or five tiles across, seventeen tiles deep. They are also painted to emphasise this diagonal pattern, again with each tile divided into quarters, or four squares, all in bright, non-primary colours. To stand at the doorway and to look down at the work is to see a pleasing check-board pattern of squares and undulating lines, salmon pinks, lemon yellows and different shades of brown moving across the room.

The arrangement recalls postmodern critiques of originality, best articulated by Rosalind Krauss in her 1986 essay, ‘Originality of the Avant-garde.’ As she argued, any work that makes use of the grid, cannot lay claim to originality, because the grid is a visual device that can only bear repeating. The same way there is no original and unique grid, there is no unique and original art object. Instead, Krauss rewrites the art object as text, whose meaning is determined by the relation it has with other texts. As a text the work of art has no point of origin and no essence; it is only something that can be endlessly reconfigured. In the case of Wagner’s floor piece, even though each tile is handmade and therefore has unique quality, none can claim to be the one original tile, more meaningful than the other.

But what makes Wagner’s work so exciting is that this repetition pertaining to postmodernism’s discussions of originality is complicated by another kind of repetition arising from a very different kind of discourse. For readers of Judith Butler, it has a performative aspect that addresses the ways in which the categories of gender are constructed in a heterosexual normative society. In this way, it is also very timely, considering that in our current era of ♯MeToo activism, many of the norms consolidating sexual and gender hierarchy are being questioned.  It comes down to Wagner’s use of the breast. The female breast is a primary sexual characteristic but it also functions as a signifier of gender. Real women have breasts – and much of the uproar surrounding Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy had to do with our identification of her as the well-endowed Laura Croft, video game sex symbol supreme.  By isolating, enlarging and repeating the form of the female breast Wagner demonstrates that gender is not a given fact. It is neither an expression of some internal essence, nor is it an objective ideal to which we may aspire to. Gender is something we perform, meaning it is brought about through certain acts on our part. And these are repetitive and often mundane, so much so, that they give gender the illusion of a stable identity. The gender identity we take for granted – with all the notions of ‘real womanhood’ that this assumes – are revealed to be nothing more than a re-enactment of a set of meanings already socially and culturally established.

What this means in turn is that the same acts, which give the illusion of stable identity are also the ones that reveal it to be illusory at the moment repetition fails.  Wagner’s work alerts us to the fact that the same process of repetition, which constructs the gender categories binding us, could also be the key to their undoing.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2018

Opening speech to Abstract Pleasures

Hello and welcome to GiG Munich’s autumn exhibition coinciding with the Open Art Weekend 2016, ‘Abstract Pleasures,’ featuring new site specific sculptural work by Kathrin Partelli and a selection from the photographic series, Sleeping Beauties, by Thomas Wieland. Those of you who have visited us before, may know that in my introductions I do not give a standard biography of the artist, whose work GiG Munich is showing. Instead, I would like to talk a little about the title, ‘Abstract Pleasures’ and my reasons for bringing these two very different artists, sculpture and photography together.

Let us turn to the second part of the title – pleasure – first. That the show has something to do with pleasure is immediately apparent from Thomas Wieland’s photos, which take the fairground rides of the annual Oktoberfest as a theme. Although the Oktoberfest marks the celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the idea of the amusement park with fairground rides developed from the original pleasure gardens of the 18th century. Open to the public, these served as early venues of entertainment for the masses.

On the other hand, the first part of the title – abstract – seems to refer more to the work of Kathrin Partelli. Formal in quality, with a strong physical aspect her sculpture belongs to a minimalist tradition, rejecting composition and figuration for the disjunctive and the abstract. We can distinguish certain basic materials (metal, plaster and wood, wax and rubber) and certain basic mathematical shapes (lines, curves, quadrilaterals). Physical forces, such as stretching, pulling, and bending under gravity are at work. No element of construction is hidden; everything is laid out in a straightforward manner.

Yet equally, there is an abstract quality to Wieland’s photography. The very things which let us focus on the fairground rides – the fact that the images are unpopulated, that each ride is photographed separately from a standard distance, the neutral light, the depth of field and the cropping – also renders the image flat. The rides look more like a collage than a physical object, the various elements, bright colours, lights, slogans, placed next to each other without forming a coherent whole.

And similarly there is a pleasureable quality found in Kathrin Partelli’s work, a kind of humor, in common with the appropriation and the subversion of minimalist vocabulary by feminist and art povera artists. Her squares are wonky, the pieces of elastic might suddenly snap, the curved piece of plaster rests precariously on a gypsum board about to break.

Work that is about pleasure yet abstract, work that is abstract yet pleasureable – this is certainly one interpretation of the title. Nevertheless, ‘Abstract Pleasures’, refers to more. As mentioned in the brief text, which accompanied the invitation, it is also a matter of aesthetics. The pleasure of contemplation is associated with the appreciation of the beautiful object. First identified by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, this kind of pleasure has less to do with the object per se (indeed, Kant stresses that there can be no beautiful object), and more with the experience the human subject has when faced with beauty. Pleasure arises from the way our mind is engaged with the object of beauty. It is occupied with the object; it thinks about the object – and yet, despite all its efforts it cannot come to any conclusion other than, this object is beautiful.

If we now look at the work, we can see that, in both cases, it draws our attention. The photos rendered flat, allow our gaze to wonder, from slogan to paintwork, from light to colour. Similarly, the level of detail in Kathrin Partelli’s work belies its simple origins. There is a logic to her objects. No material is used more than once; the objects go from light to dark and from hard to soft; a curve in lead on the floor is repeated with a curve of rubber; what seems like a black stick is actually a drawing. We are occupied discerning these details, but as said, these objects allow no further conclusions to be drawn. Instead, they bring attention to the act of contemplation itself.

This is important, because historically speaking very few artworks engage with the pleasures of contemplation. Minimalism, art povera, or feminist art are more concerned with expanding the notion of the artwork. Indeed, it is rare that in everyday life we consider the joys of contemplation. Referring to Thomas Wieland’s photos: we are too busy spinning around half-drunk on the Oktoberfest rides to be thinking about their structures.

And all of this to what end? The pleasures of contemplation alert us to a basic relation, the fact we do have a relation to the outside world. That we can look at an object and recognize it as an object – that we think about the object and draw conclusions – this should be a source of wonder. I hope, that in a small way, this wonder is celebrated by the artwork featuring in this exhibition.

Magdalena Wisniowska, 2016