‘Cracks’ Exhibition at Scotty Enterprises”, (2015), photograph; courtesy of Scotty Enterprises
Inside Kreuzberg’s smallest house, Oranienstraße 46, Berlin-based artists Charlotte Bastian and Kerstin Stoll take a close look at both the little and the large, in their recently opened exhibition, Cracks. The show occupies no more space than the ground floor room at the entrance to the house, which was built in 1864; just a cross-section of the mere 48 square meters that it measures in total. Since 2006, the space has been home to Scotty Enterprises: a democratically organised and autonomous collection of fifteen artists that provide an open platform for exhibiting. Limiting though the little confines might seem, do not be fooled. The size of exhibition has no bearing whatsoever on its scope.
Following themes of contemporary social and cultural-political themes that Scotty advocates, the two-person show sensitively scales the sprawling issues that surround that vast and inescapable giant: landscape change. Bastian and Stoll approach their shared subject through both micro- and macrocosmic lenses, experimenting with the physical materiality of cracks, fissures, and breaks, as prisms through which to engage with the larger concepts at hand. Their ideas come to life through a diverse assortment of multi-media works – from screen printing to etching, sculpture to installation – allowing the viewer a range of possible angles for engagement, both literal, and theoretical.
Kerstin Stoll – “Installation shot of ‘Sharaki’ and ‘Contraction Differentielle Tridimentionelle – The Garden Cyrus’ at Scotty Enterprises”, (2015), photograph; courtesy of Scotty Enterprises
Immediately to your right as you enter the dimly lit space, a carefully staged arrangement of two of Stoll’s works confronts the process of how landscapes change, by exploring its most minute form. Experimenting with a medley of different materials, she draws attention to the unfaltering uniformity that is found within all patterns of cracking and fracturing. A kaleidoscope of fragmented light cascades across the flat window surface, finding its source in a small, rectangular glass prism, riveted by cracks and chipping, and illuminated by a spotlight. The magnified patterns dance dynamically across another cracked surface – the sandstone-like paste of clay and buttermilk that conceals the entire window – creating an interesting interplay and correspondence between two distinct systems of fragmentation.
At the other end of the room, a different set of apparatus constructed by Bastian offers a more dynamic representation of the process of shifting landscapes. In two separate praxinoscopes, Bastian effectively presents the viewer with mobile flipbooks. A round of mirrors at the centre of each work reflects a series of images placed on an outer spinning wheel; progressive photographs of shifting ice blocks, and an undulating mountain-scape made out of tin foil, respectively. The rotating pictures urgently depict the rapid pace of change in our natural environment, and, by hypnotically capturing the viewer’s attention, subtly implicate their direct, or indirect actions that lie at the root of the cause.
Charlotte Bastian – “Installation shot of ‘Slope’ at Scotty Enterprises’, (2015), photograph; courtesy of Scotty Enterprises
This subtlety, for me, is the brilliance of the exhibition. Through the small medley of diverse works, the artists manage to strike a tone that is more contemplative than accusatory. Avoiding the sweepingly bold statements that the topic of landscape change so often attracts, they allow, through delicate description and dynamic engagement, a sensitive portrayal of nature’s intricate beauty, and an implicit suggestion as to each viewer’s individual responsibility in its preservation. A witty quip brings this theme home to us city-dwellers and our urban-scape, as we ponder over the inevitable prospect of change, whilst standing in one of the rare pre-War remains in the area.
Catch the exhibition before it closes on September 19, 2015.
Blog entry by Gabi Gershuny in Berlin; Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2015.