The press photo for Andrea Dettmar’s debut Berlin exhibition at Scotty Enterprises depicts a man emerging from or being sucked into an Etruscan Tomb.
Paired with the title of the show, hatch, the photograph demonstrates the most literal relationship with the word’s definition: “an opening of restricted size allowing for passage from one area to another1.” The installation, however, has a more implicit affiliation with the word. The starting point for the exhibition is a watercolor in two parts titled hatch I, located in the back of the space.
The image of the face with a hat is derived from an Etruscan tomb, perhaps the tomb from which the man in the photo is emerging from. hatch I is part of a series of three hatch paintings, of which dissolve as the viewer ascends the gallery staircase. All of these black and white watercolors are in two pieces and not only for a practical reason. Dettmar often shows the same work in different arrangements, and with each painting existing in two parts, there is more potential for her to build a structure to support the paintings in the future and orient them differently.
In addition to her interest in the ancient, Dettmar is also highly influenced by early black and white films, those of the Neorealists. This influence is most clearly represented by an untitled black and white watercolor mounted on a black board, giving it an immediate cinematic frame. The work is not a straightforward film still, but rather a riddle; it depicts the moment where two images collide, therefore the result is not recognizable. Dettmar uses film as a starting point, and uses the language of film to create a series of signs for the viewer.
Another untitled work, a double sided painting, functions quite literally as a sign, in this case a shop sign that can be seen from the gallery’s storefront window. The imagery is distilled and enlarged from a previous work, a painting of shadows. This interest in shadows goes back to another meaning of the word hatch, which is the drawing technique to create darkness.
The helmet and shield, Powou, are traces of a previous exhibit. What is now a shield was previously positioned to suggest a materialized shadow of the helmet. The shield itself contains traces of its earlier state. This work is related to the ancient, but is re-activated in the present.
present is most apparent in the work, Pou-nee, in which the materiality of the elements was the starting point. Although the clothing is modern, it evokes the colors and fashion of Neorealist films (for example the Nicholas Ray red). The combination of materials and its close physical proximity to Powou gives the appearance of a stage set after a performance.
The work is not just about film, but is open for interpretation so that the viewers can construct their own story from the different pieces. Dettmar claims that the cardboard and paper mache sculpture, “day-sie,” serves a more formal rather than conceptual function. In the context of “hatch” however, it is easy to read the sculpture as a tidy arrangement of remnants from an archeological dig; perhaps the findings of the man emerging from the earth.
Catch the show before its closing on 28.01.12!