by Nadia Egan // Apr. 29, 2022
Born out of a collaboration between LA-based gallery Hunter Shaw Fine Art and Berlin-based independent space Scherben, the group show ‘Klammern aus denen Blätter Sprießen’ features five artists who, in different ways, attempt to escape reality through art. Through DIY maker movements, mysticism, gaming culture, biotechnology, and virtual reality through social and scientific techniques, the artists investigate the different strains and subcultures of escapism. Curated together for the first time, the artists’ personal perspectives and interests intersect to propose different avenues of flight from our present day reality.
What could be interpreted as a script or screenplay accompanies the show and guides the visitor through each work. Albeit a little verbose at times, the text envisages and constructs a metaphorical stage on which we can position the art before us. Each piece is depicted like a scene in a play–through descriptive text, stage direction and dialogue. From assigning a voice to one of the 300 humans inside the torso of Andrew Rutherdale’s ‘The Leviathan’s Corpse,’ to using an imaginary camera lens to guide the viewer’s gaze through Jonas Schoeneberg’s series of three paintings—‘(liminal_board/sliced)_für ithell,’ ‘(liminal_board/sliced)_für hilma’ and ‘(liminal_board/sliced)_für hans’—dramatic character and perspective is ascribed to each work.
Situated centre stage is Yein Lee’s ‘Saviour syndrome or good girl complex, starring perpetual past’—a cyborg-like sculpture made from a combination of cast pieces and found objects such as electrical wire and motorbike parts. The work is coated in shades of blue and purple paint that combine with pink coloured gems to form an iridescent-like effect. Though beautiful on the surface, the sculpture conjures darker themes with its extraterrestrial appearance and allusions to Giger’s ‘Alien.’ A futuristic, sci-fi image is conceived, visualising a more dystopian if still fantastical realm of escape.
Offering another escape from reality is Filip Kostic’s installation ‘Bed PC.’ Surrounded by a gaming set complete with monitors, ergonomic keyboard, streaming mic and webcams, the visitor is invited to lay down and experience time as Kostic did during lockdown. In an attempt to optimise his life while working from home, Kostic designed a multi-purpose habitat that allowed him to streamline the transition between work, sleep and play. On the four screens mounted above the bed, various live streams run continuously, displaying a virtual world that allows for a temporary escape from real life. Lounging on the pillow under the flashing screens it is easy to become absorbed, even numbed, to forget your surroundings and enter deeper into the artist’s virtual world.
Like the imaginary camera lens introduced to us in the screenplay, we scan the room and arrive at Schoeneberg’s series. The script describes this work as cave entrances. Three openings in the wall act as gateways to a make-believe land beyond the confines of the gallery. Often working with historical art references, Schoeneberg interweaves his own personal symbology and immediate surroundings with traditional cave, sigil and altar paintings. The unique combination produces a montage of tradition and modernity, observed in the bright swirling colours on plaster, styrofoam and wood. Unlike other works in the show, Schoeneberg’s paintings seem to suggest a more whimsical form of escape, into a technicolour world of weightlessness.
Considering the show as a whole, it is impossible not to consider the theme of escapism in relation to our current time. While war and mass human displacement continue to dominate our news feeds, it’s no surprise that we might seek an escape from such horrors. The artists envisage a world away from our contemporary nightmare and offer us a moment of appreciated, though perhaps questionable, respite.