by Nadia Egan // Sept. 16, 2022
The word “uprising” is not one I would usually connect to a half-derelict manor house located deep within the Brandenburg countryside. Inconspicuous, it lies nestled between scaffolding and years of bushy overgrowth. The walls are cracked and crumbling, its veins having not felt the rush of electricity in many a year. Yet the Schloss Görne—the site of Kristin Hjellegjerde’s summertime exhibition—is in a state of transformation and rejuvenation, undergoing its own personal uprising.
While dubious at first, the building serves as an apt backdrop to the group show ‘Uprising.’ A collection of almost 40 of Hjellegjerde’s emerging young artists, the show channels a sense of youthfulness and vibrancy that comfortably juxtaposes with the ageing, historical home. The array of works made specifically for the show supply a breath of life to a space that was for too long forgotten.
Upon entering the first of the exhibition’s three rooms, a work by Rita Maikova immediately captivates my attention. Like a nightmarish twist on one of Dali’s dreamscapes, ‘Battle of Light and Darkness’ (2022) presents a macabre place filled with ghoulish shapes and distorted skulls whose teeth sprout spindly legs. The skulls, appearing rabid with their eaten away exterior and singular tufts of fur circling the remaining eye socket, snarl at the viewer, warding them off their territory. Though sinister, the painting draws you in, luring you with its surrealist wonder.
Entering the next room, I’m confronted head on by two of Tom White’s portraits. To the right is ‘Kindly’ (2022), where a woman poses in an armchair with a large “FUCK OFF” branded across her chest. I gravitate towards her. She sits half at ease, half awkwardly—the way one does while having their picture taken. Her face is set with an indeterminable emotion, her eyes penetrate through the canvas. Though a painterly representation, the portrait feels profoundly intimate, even private. Perhaps it’s the message she wears across her chest, or the way her facial expression keeps me guessing, but I cannot help but feel intrusive; I am uninvited to observe.
While the quantity of sculptural works throughout the show falls somewhat short, the quality does not. Elongated, looping brooms sweep their way across the façade of the Schloss Görne in Jonny Brigg’s ‘Moustache II’ and ‘Moustache IV’ (both 2021). Admittedly unnoticeable at first, the novelty sized, three-metre long wooden brooms form eccentric drawings atop the building’s bricks and windows. Their thin, long handles blend into the surface and provide a curious surprise for the attentive visitor. Inside, the gummy looking pink and white sculptures of Michael Dohr appear ready to eat. Bringing me back to days of eating Drumstick lollies, the texture of Dohr’s ‘Tree’ (2021) resembles that of the half-chewed sweet. Though sadly not the same consistency, the sculptures draw you in, enticing you to touch their dough-like surface.
The success of ‘Uprising’ heavily lies in its juxtaposition of old and new. While many of the works have merit within themselves, it’s the intertwining of emerging artists and new works within the context of an edifice erected in the 14th century produces a certain charm. The curation, led mostly by Hjellegjerde herself, shows a deep understanding of both the works and the space—something not always easily achieved.