Katja Strunz is known for subtly weaving complex artistic references through her work. From Walter Benjamin’s Marxist concept of history to Constructivist and other avant-garde allusions, the geometrical shapes and subdued colours of Strunz’s works are rich contemporary manifestations of the Modernist project.
In her solo exhibition ‘Unfolding Process’ at Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin, Strunz presents a series of rough cut collages and hanging metal sculptures, rendering in 3D the flat forms of neighbouring paper works. The title piece, Unfolding Process I (2013) is an impressive ceiling-to-floor negative space collage created out of a classical portrait from a 1970s illustrated book by Hans Memling. The use of old book pages, combined with Strunz’s handmade pulp painting, give the works an imposingly tactile presence.
Her exhibition at the CFA continues her show ‘Drehmoment (Viel Zeit, wenig Raum)’, exhibited at Berlinische Galerie this past summer. While the show at Berlinische Galerie was largely sculptural, Strunz is currently showing new works thematically constructed around paper and books. The philosophy and poetry of the Book is a conceptual impetus for the curation as well: 20th Century French poet Stéphane Mallarmé is referenced for his thinking of the “textual architecture” of the book as a marker of time and history.
In the past, Strunz has worked intensely with the process of folding in her oeuvre—whether larger scale folded metal sculptures or folded paper works—in order to consider temporal folds in their materiality. The ‘Unfolding Process’ exhibition acts as a désoeuvrement (unworking) of her oeuvre (indicated by theoretical references to Mallarmé). With this show she meditates on the potential non-linearity of time and ways in which we might think of other, simultaneous temporalities. Her collages isolate key features of old portraits, reassembling them in slightly adjusted configurations. Though the act of folding is still relevant to the show, her rough hacking and layering of handmade and found paper aims to present spatial interpretations of time as multifaceted.
Strunz’s deeply philosophical reflections on space and time inform her wider artistic and political inclinations. A self-professed historical materialist, Strunz expresses, through her practice, a desire to revisit past artistic references in a new light, not merely as forebearers in the progressive march of historical time but as possible keys to a ruptural experience of the present.
Alison Hugill completed a Masters in Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London (2011). Her research focusses on Marxist-Feminist politics and aesthetic theories of community, communication and communism. Alison is an editor, writer and curator based in Berlin.