The most recent production in the Studiogalerie of Haus am Lützowplatz, / interface(s) / Tales of Babel highlighted the idiosyncrasies of distinct visual languages and the moments in which they transgress their own boundaries, slipping into the space of collective memory. Predicated less on a thematic framework, the exhibition – curated by Lucile Bouvard – took as its impetus the discrete interactions between the work of three artists: Yann Gerstberger, Marion Andrieu and Zora Mann.
Occupying a hazy middle ground between flatness and dimensionality, the works in sculpture, tapestry and painting engage the communicative field of digital technologies – their language, signs and modes of processing visual information – through reference to folk art and traditional media. The screen emerges as an opaque, impenetrable surface, which nevertheless exceeds its frame, reaching outside of itself, by tracing the diverse pathways embedded within various networks of signification.
Forms appear in near exact, though perpetually varied, iterations in Marion Andrieu’s Interface Objects, in which vague, ultimately indecipherable patterns allude to some purpose beyond the object’s physical presence. Interspersed irregularly within the transparent grid of a shelving system situated in a smaller, in between room of the exhibition space, the geometrically patterned objects in different shapes, sizes and colors appear to hover, while additional objects placed at varying heights behind – on the wall and floor – lend to the illusion of flattened out space. The regularity facilitated by such a system is interrupted by small incongruences in apparent repetitions – breaks in code through which meaning is concretized, though visually abstracted. The hard, yet smooth materiality of the objects, formed from fiberboard, further seems to visually give way to a substance more malleable, as though shaped by hands in clay – the tactility and physicality of which activate the sense of touch.
The breaking up of a coherent system, or image, by malleable means is conceived as well by Yann Gerstberger in his large-scale wall tapestry, which itself functions as a screen – its intertwining, multi-colored fibers generating a pixelated image, composited from disparate materials and imagery: sourced from the internet, as well as from memory. Through its coarse, assemblaged materiality and abstract patterning that creates a highly textural, haptic visual surface – grainy in both texture and image – the wall hanging summons a bodily presence, physicality and touch. The noisy, staticky rendering constitutes itself as a surface that generates depth: in the spaces between its woven threads, its layering of material and reference, its function and position as a covering – over the architectural surface.
The textures and erratic lines that compose Gerstberger’s tapestry, taken with the detailed working of surface in Zora Mann's etching located across the space, materialize as mise-en-abyme. Put into direct exchange with each other in this way, the abstracted intricacies of both surfaces seem to act as a net for reflections of the other, while their distinctive overlaying of forms and images construct a dense layer that at once extends deeper into the space of the surface and expands outward into the physical realm.
Mann's intricately detailed etchings themselves vibrate out of the picture plane, expanding through the tremors of their contours: multiple wavelenghts, ambiguous signals, rhythmic contortions. While her adjacent shields – in similarly geomteric, layered and abstract compositions – realized in three dimensions, extend beyond the borders of their own individual forms to emphasize their connection to each other, highlighting their disparaties and elaborating on the nature of relationships between objects, forms, patterns. Though positioned against the wall, like paintings, their protrusions and cutouts produce active surfaces, which, in their obstensible function as protective screens for the body, become portals to something outside themselves. Caught in an interplay between the acts of revealing and hiding, they reference the body's presence, marked by its absence.
Together, the artists' works emphasize the physicality of the visual, of language and communicative networks: diverging from the dematerialization of the digital interface, while appropriating its idiom. The relationship between the works compels a close look at the details of texture and surface – in which forms reemerge in different contexts and maintain a close connection to each other – as, for instance, the fine, grainy, graphic lines of Andrieu's fiberboard objects seem to be mirrored by Mann's etchings. It is in these individual intricacies of surface – the ingrained facets that nonetheless maintain a sense of flexibility and spontaneity – that common ground is formed.
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