Article by Alena Sokhan in Berlin; Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014
In a melancholy gesture, EIGEN + ART Lab – the gallery space occupying the fourth floor of the Jüdische Mädchenschule since 2012 – selected four young artists under the title To be continued. This exhibition is a thoughtful exploration of the social, scientific, and optical mechanics of perception, revealing these contradictory processes as illusions and playing with claims of reality.
Nadja Bournonville‘s series of photographs addresses the implications of the pseudo-scientific disorder of female hysteria, popular in the 19th century. Though now rejected in medical practice, female hysteria is a critical, historical foundation on which the scientific image of women was constructed. The photographs play with the assumptions of females as emotionally disturbed, and also with the attempt to construct a rational diagnosis of female ‘irrationality.’ Her works are odd images that subtly fragment female bodies into fleshy parts, unsettling tones, and unbalanced compositions.
Bournonville also presents a series of smaller photos of machines that could have been used to record and monitor female hysteria, funky constructions out of household and industrial materials. These photographs project the supposed hysteria of the patient onto the doctor who makes the diagnosis, making the objective eye of science appear childish and absurd.
Five films by Jakub Simcik are playing in the far room of the gallery: a related series of works based on a personal narrative of repeated emigration. In ‘The Conversation,’ Simcik’s mother speaks of her continuous dislocations from her home in a fragmented dialogue with the artist, who sits beside her and asks questions. ‘Kitchen of Happiness’ expands on this discussion with images of display kitchens in shops, sterile and inhospitable. A voice-over of Simcik’s mother describes the details of her kitchen that she had to abandon when moving countries. A different story is told by Simcik’s brother – who reads his history of displacement aloud while smoking a cigarette outside – in the work ‘Since We Are Strangers, There as Well.’ The self-awareness of these documentary-like works is striking, allowing for the charisma of the characters to come out through their acknowledgement of being documented.
Intersecting the spaces of the gallery are works by Titus Schade and Alex Lebus. Schade’s paintings are arrangements of buildings, geometrical forms, objects like trees, or camp fires. With a perfect, undisturbed flat surface, the even gradients and hyper-realistic elements of the paintings look like they have been made on a computer. The uncannily flawless appearance of Schade’s paintings is accentuated by sharp angles and disregard for perspective, constructing an image of a reality that confuses more than it represents.
Alex Lebus’ installation works question the nature of binaries – the self and the other – while cleverly bringing together the gallery space. Using larger than life sized mirrors in wood frames, Lebus plays with reflection and projection. Parts of the mirror are scratched away and in some works cleaned completely, so that only glass remains. These works play with the viewer’s perceptions, confusing the understanding of one’s own body and place since it is difficult to understand exactly where the mirror ends and the glass begins.
The gallery will be having an artist’s talk on Thursday, Nov. 27, at 7 pm. With To Be Continued it will be sad for the Berlin art scene to see EIGEN + ART Lab close, though as the title of the exhibition suggests, the experimental gallery space will not abandon their legacy: a lasting contribution that provided a professional environment and conscientious curatorial practice and revealed many young talents. EIGEN + ART Lab is one branch of EIGEN + ART, with its sister Galerie EIGEN + ART located just down the street at Auguststraße 26, and another branch in Leipzig.
EIGEN + ART LAB
“To be continued” – GROUP SHOW
Exhibition: Nov. 04 – Nov. 29, 2014
Artist Talk: Thursday, Nov. 27; 7pm
Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule, Auguststraße 11-13 (click here for map)
Alena Sokhan is working on her Masters in Media and Communications at the European Graduate School. Her research interests lie in the topics of Queer Theory, Critical Theory, Film and New Media Art, and Economics.