Foam and Content: Caterina Gobbi at Zönotéka

by Rositza Alexandrova // Jan. 28, 2020

You would have seen them. The multitude of tiny hats, the sombre homogeneous haloes atop identikit outsized attire – squadrons of sonic savants and ferociously well-read CTM regulars swarming at the entrance to Caterina Gobbi’s exhibition ‘my eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed.’ As if echoing the ethos of some antediluvian ur-rave (self-contained bubbles entrained), their every move is metronomic, the muffled chatter – microtonal, the checking of one’s phone – an oscillation in extremis. Not much diversity, you might be tempted to conclude, in the thriving biotope of Zönotéka on this symbiotic Saturday evening – just the sterling frogspawn of Neukölln imbibing beer and bubbly (by osmosis) in the heady pool of Vorspiel/transmediale. And just like frogspawn: tremulous, bright, aesthetically alluring to see.

But what will hatch!? And why the hats so ‘helixingly’ high?

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Caterina Gobbi: ‘My eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed’, installation view // Photo by Johanna Hardt

You would do well, fellow faux fisherman, to focus not onto this fashionable flotsam, a portrait of which graven into the fine dust diacritics of the exhibition poster. Shift your oculars (but also other perceptorials) to the immense, yet unobtrusively effusive video, which aptly snaps the space of the small gallery into the Protofuture (Sea)Star(ship) enterprise that its likeable ’70s storefront ineluctably predestines it to be – an aurally inundated aquarium, with barnacle loudspeakers latching lubricious diaphragms onto sculpted spume; through which then sound is not so much transmitted as transmuted, a sort of sotto voce oceanic ultimatum. Diversity is subtle.

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Caterina Gobbi: ‘My eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed’, installation view // Photo credit by Marine Kervizic

Presented by RE_FORMA’s Grace Franck and astutely curated by Johanna Hardt, recombinations cross-pollinate the cross metaphors of queer ecology to bring out both the beautiful effluvium and the laboured strictures in Gobbi’s weightlessly immobile objects. Adduced is a staggering narrative by Holly Hunter on the indeterminate aggregate state of sea spray and on molecular miscegenation – part hydro-lipo paean to a nymph, part clarion call for ‘spitty desires.’ Admittedly, less those of ‘goopily expanding’ Michelin men, spreading on the S-Bahn, but of conceptual caryatids having no leg, no arm, no capitol either – stripped, segmented, but still erect an architectural order, whose vertical fluting the fabricator extrudes manually, in a moulding-molestation. An upcoming workshop on the premises, which doubles as production platform, promises permissions much like those to all potential ‘perpetrators’ keen to try their hand at being handsy. For there is a disciplining of the flesh (and foam): a (self-)taming of the shrew, nay of the Schaum. The growing pains are borne out on the bark: tracks on a Tower of Twig, spun out of nothing but abscission scars, electric splinters chiselled in the Brandung – that aeriated slither of a shore (or of a project space) in which acoustic coastlines break wave upon wave of heteraudible normativity.

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Caterina Gobbi: ‘My eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed’, installation view // Photo credit by Marine Kervizic

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Caterina Gobbi performance at the opening of ‘My eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed’ at Zönotéka // Courtesy of Johanna Hardt

And as the tide of millennial microplastics keeps crashing in from the cold, to only ebb politely to the walls and let the concert commence, it is defensible, for once, to triple-roll one’s docker’s hat, uncovering the ears. Not just in solidarity, diffusely, with the shrinking of the icecaps, but because THERE IS WHAT TO HEAR. Caterina Gobbi’s tracks are tender – like tadpole babble – and brusque. Her performative presence commanding, even faintly magisterial. With hands obstreperously ringed, she cuts a figure imaginably not unlike a young Giacinto Scelsi, with whom the artist shares home country, haircut and not a few sonorities.

Exhibition Info

Caterina Gobbi: ‘my eyes are wild, my lips tight pressed’
Exhibition: Jan. 18–Feb. 02, 2020
Opening Hours: Thursday–Sunday, 1–6pm
Workshop & Production Tour: Jan. 29, 2020; 7–9pm
Finissage: Feb. 01, 2020; 6–11 pm
Hobrechtstraße 54, 12047 Berlin, click here for map

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