March 8, 2011 - Bäckerstrasse4 - from one word to one word a possible void
March 8, 2011

from one word to one word a possible void

Rasmus Albertsen, “The Archive,” 2010 (video-still).

from one word to one word
a possible void

Rasmus Albertsen, Emanuel Almborg, Olof Broström, Aleksander Komarov, Elisabeth Penker

indirectly-curated by Adam Budak

10 March–22 April 2011

Opening:
9 March 2011, 7 p.m.Bäckerstrasse4 – Plattform für junge Kunst
Bäckerstrasse 4
1010 Vienna, Austria
T +43 676 555 1 777
office [​at​] baeckertrasse4.at
www.baeckerstrasse4.at

Opening hours:
Tue–Fri 11 a.m. –7.p.m.
Sat: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

from one word to one word. a possible void. (after the lines of edmond jabès) the exhibition is a distance measured by potential presences; a trace of randomness; an act of holding back; a rupture and inter-ruption (blanchot). furthermore, the exhibition as a staging of impossible anteriority; an interval and emergency exit; the tender endurance of a song; precision of asking. moreover, the exhibition as a movement and escape of meaning; a given word; finally: a promise. from one word to one word. a possible void.

assembled as a constellation of five presences, “from one word to one word a possible void” is an exercise in a discontinuous space of suspended (or aborted) articulation. “The doubt about everything” is what constitutes seemingly delirious and rigorous work of Rasmus Albertsen (born 1977 in Dronninglund, Denmark, lives and works in Umeå). His short, looped videos are self-portraits of a solitary subject, trapped in a claustrophobic chamber of his own insecurity. Phantom-like characters wander peacefully in the artist’s universe-cum-bizarre Kafkaesque archive of deleted information and erased knowledge as if they were hypnotized by a routine of bureaucracy and uniformed decor of the everyday life (“The Archive”) whereas another protagonist, a composer, performs a hysteria of a mind, tormented by a crisis of creativity and impotence, between a hope and resignation (“The Composer”). An obsessively recurring motif of a white blank page acts as both a metaphor of an absent meaning and a carte blanche for a world at the threshold of a new beginning. The message never arrives, the truth is not revealed, a word is not articulated: expectation and awaiting predominate in the artist’s mysterious (epiphanous) zone of “not-yet”. Albertsen delivers surreal tableaux of anxiety and despair, framed by an absurd humor, slapstick-like turn of action, neo-dadaesque distance and self-irony. His poetic self-reflexive video-confessions register fragile moments of hesitation and failure, mapping the sisyphuous trajectory “from one word to one word”, an assembly of voids, a realm of emptiness.

Delirium and rigor seem to act as typical features of carefully elaborated assemblages of Olof Broström (born 1980 in Gothenburg; lives and works in Malmö). “I like what happens when you repeat a tedious process”, confesses the artist whose work—yet another expression of a struggle with a routine—relies upon seriality, repetitive pattern and obsessive accumulation. Here too, like in Albertsen’s nightmarish displays of creative inabilities, the sheet of paper is a primary medium of the artist’s masterful craft, a fetish: as a colorful page, perfectly folded into a little box, then multiplied and squeezed within a frame, thus forming a painting-like mosaic (“Boxes”); or as a crumpled, wasted post-it, accumulated en masse and locked orderly in a decent golden frame, thus imitating a noble commodity (“1536″); or, last but not least, as a white field of potentiality, exposed to a chance, as a main material of an automatic drawing machine (“Repeater”). Expressing his interest in “easy rules that make up a never-ending combination of possible results”, Broström refers to the legacy of minimal art and its focus on seriality, scientific logic, elemental forms and asceticism. Oscillating between precision and randomness and experimenting with the surface, his tiny paintings from a series “Brown Lakes” are poetic articulations of what the artist seems to be obsessed by—an encounter of coincidence and true abstraction.

Beckettian sense of failure (“fail, fail again, fail better”), so typical for Albertsen and Broström, receives a further elaboration in the cinematic field-work of Emanuel Almborg (born 1981 in Stockholm, lives and works in Stockholm) which deals with performativity’s main tool: the speech, or, to be more precise, the absence or cancellation of thereof. The point of departure for the artist’s two-part project, spread between Shakespeare’s “The Rest Is Silence” (the first chapter appropriating the concluding sentence of “Hamlet” as its title) and Beckett’s “Nothing Is Left to Tell” (the sequel’s title borrowing the last sentence of a playlet “Ohio Impromptu”) is the nature and the history of an experimental and mysterious building project in Hackney, East London, conducted in the late 1970s by a group of borough’s residents, according to three rules: no plan nor a blueprint of a construction, a complete silence on the building site, no intention to complete the building, nor to take it in a new direction. Intrigued by “the mystery that always cloaked the structure: its stillness and its silence” and interested in exploring the more generic nature of human communication, the artist decided to reenact the similar experiment on a small island outside Gotland, Sweden in the Summer of 2010. Utopian at its core, Almborg’s social psychodrama, “Nothing Is Left to Tell” captures a life in an alarming state of exception while challenging the communal routine under a pressure of unusual (de-subjectifying) obstructions. “If language is central to the human community what happens if we suspend it? How do we relate to each other and how does it affect our social relations and collaboration? Do we find new ways of communicating or do we accept the silence?”—these are only a few of many questions generated by this uncanny project which echoes both the 60s and 70s experiments of “alternative societies” as well as a more contemporary, media-related, spectacle of “reality show”.

Located on the crossway of visual arts and sound art, multilayered and highly performative practice of Elisabeth Penker (born 1974, lives and works in Vienna) combines a wide variety of media and forms of expression: from performance and sonic architecture, through installation, object and sculpture, to a collage, diagram and drawing. Her complex compositions are examples of truly polyphonic structures: rhizomes of discourses (including post-feminism, post-colonialism and seemingly other post-alike…), references (ranging from dada’s phonetic experiments through a vocabulary of minimal and conceptual art down to contemporary experimental music and deconstructed poetry) and linguistic morphologies (with a particular focus on polysynthetic languages of First Nation and Pacific Islands). Cultural difference, outsider-ness and marginality are recurring themes in her self-reflexive and critically oriented projects. Penker’s new work, a series of painted glass panels, “Picture/Form” (2011) is a study of a void (an absence of image) and an excess of form (an omnipresence of a surface). The artist enjoys the monotony of a regular pattern and a modesty of a monochrome while carefully elaborating strategies of escaping the frame. The message – some sort of indecent, conceptual liaison (a could-be ironic homage to field-painting) – is drawn in an ocean of possibilities as Penker repeats a word after a word in a rhythmical sequence of reflective surfaces thus confirming her work’s relational ambition and its sculptural quality. Totemic, black&white columns, “What’s Modern” (2005) and “Coffee with a Sculpture” (2005), covered by paper collages of pseudo-cubist drawings, are the artist’s earlier expressions of similar desires to master systems and to undermine art-historical idioms.

The filmic work of Aleksander Komarov (born 1971 in Grodno, Belarus; lives and works in Berlin) is a striking portrait of the humanity and the world at the brink of a social and political change. The ambitious script of his tour-de-force cinematic essay, “Estate” (2008) guides the viewer through the meanders of power formations, as they appear within the industrial “kingdom” of Ural region (captivating, almost sublime images of local gold, copper and asbestos mines in Yekaterinburg area, as well as a gigantic metallurgical enterprise in Niznij Tagil) and are confronted by the global power control structures of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (almost ironically de-dramatized by the film’s focus on banal, regular activities, performed on the world’s biggest “stage” of global economy, such as brokers’ lunch, TV presenter’s report, or a rhythmical change of numbers on the large display systems) and juxtaposed in a chapter 3 by the artist’s reflection upon the display of value and relationships between the production, resources and the status of art, as exemplified by art collections owned by the companies (Deutsche Bank and the Austrian energy company, EVN-AG) that have incorporated art into their business concept. Komarov uses a variety of sources (from fairy-tales, local mythology, folklore materials to the statistics, press reports and corporate policies manuals) to investigate current mechanisms of power, labour and estate and their influence on general normative systems that condition ordinary people’s everyday life. Economy, politics and ethics are intertwined in the artist’s analysis of exploitation, abuse and possible corruption, depicted in a series of images contemplating entropic landscapes, contemporary ruins and derelict sites. In the artist’s yet another cinematic tribute to the past, “Capital” (2009), the title term refers to both the capital as the entire architectural/urban assets of the city of Rotterdam, as well as to the capital as related to one person’s memory. As Komarov comments, “the past and the present meet in (…) ‘Capital’ in an unpredictable way. The interrelation between Rotterdam’s destruction during WWII, its current renovation and a blind person is not visible directly, but emerges only when certain imagery and contents are linked to each other in one timeline. I am interested in how the city’s ‚capital’ is expanded on our physical condition and imagination (…) The eyes of the blind is a metaphor for the inability to see what is inscribed in the ground level of Rotterdam’s 20th century history; (…) it is a mediator between my imagination of facts and the real condition of the person who is filmed. The film challenges the Russian avant-garde which back then proclaimed that reality is a mechanical process and can be corrected, rebuilt, destroyed”.

The exhibition from one word to one word a possible void is yet another exhibition project, initiated by Bäckerstrasse4 – Plattform für junge Kunst, Vienna-based art institution, working with young artists, selected by an international committee of experts, including Bärbel Grässlin, Adi Rosenblum, Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, Eckhard Schneider, Sofie Thorsen, Adam Budak, Andrew Renton and Gabriele Schober.

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