Kerstin Bratsch and DAS INSTITUT

Kerstin Bratsch and DAS INSTITUT

Kölnischer Kunstverein

DAS INSTITUT, “BuyBrätschWörst,” 2010.
C-print on archival paper, 240 x 182 cm.*

February 8, 2011

Kerstin Brätsch and DAS INSTITUT
(“Nichts, Nichts!”)/ (“Nothing, Nothing!”)

5 February – 20 March 2011

Die Brücke
Hahnenstraße 6
D – 50667 Cologne

Who’s Kerstin Brätsch?
I am Champagne
When You See Me Again It Won’t Be Me
is Kerstin Brätsch’s laconic title for another of her works. The paintings of the New York based artist Kerstin Brätsch alternate between a distant third-person perspective and an enthusiastic, slogan-like voice promoting the Kerstin Brätsch “brand” with titles like Kerstin Kopy Kommerzial. Brätsch teamed up with Adele Röder in 2007 to found the “import-export agency” DAS INSTITUT, in line with her idea that the “one-woman-artist” concept is no less conservative than the “one-man artist” model. Her painting is institutional critique in the form of resolute action. Brätsch consciously chooses to collaborate and uses humour to subtly undermine stereotypes and conventional notions of what it means to be an artist. Yet she does not stop at subversive strategies; she can also be very “in your face”, blasting apart the pretences of auratic painting with her ironic use of painterly gestures introduced by the generation of male artists who came before her. She picks up on strategies of disillusionment from painters like Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen and succinctly challenges the seductive patterns and expressive language of painting. She channels her own pieces into the Agency for Corporate Abstraction like templates or models, consciously subjecting them to economical production processes. What at first appears to be a wild exaggeration that walks a thin line between art, knitted material, role play and marketing is also a pointed commentary on the art world and a plea for painting and its possibilities.

For her extensive show at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Brätsch has created a tension by giving this large installation of paintings the placatory exhibition title (“Nichts Nichts!”) / (“Nothing! Nothing!”). The title is a reference to Honoré de Balzac’s famous short story The Unknown Masterpiece (1831), in which the painter Frenhofer cries out “Nothing, nothing! And after working ten years!” when his fellow artists see the portrait he has been labouring over and see nothing but a bare foot emerging from confused masses of colour. Thus the title is Brätsch’s response to Frenhofer’s frantic outburst, and in the exhibition she presents herself as his artistic antipode. The show turns painting into a multifunctional material. The exhibition will also be the Cologne premiere of Schröderline, a new collection of clothing by DAS INSTITUT featuring digitally knit trouser suits—made to measure for the “models” Röder and Brätsch—and Parasite Patches, a line of multilayered knit elements that can be attached to existing items of clothing to promote the two artists’ creations. Brätsch and DAS INSTITUT have proposed two ways of reading the exhibition—one for visitors coming into the exhibition space and another for passersby looking into the exhibition space from the street.

Kerstin Brätsch, born in Hamburg in 1979, currently lives and works in New York. In 2010 her work was presented in a solo exhibition at Parc Saint Léger (France) and she was invited to participate in the Gwangju Biennale (Korea). She has also recently shown her work as part of Galerie Balice Hertling’s Art Statements at Art Basel 2010, at 179 Canal in New York (2010) and Hermes und der Pfau in Stuttgart, Germany (2009). Brätsch’s agency DAS INSTITUT first attracted international attention at the Swiss Institute in New York (2009) and New Jerseyy in Basel, Switzerland (2010) and through participations in group shows such as the Younger than Jesus exhibition at New York’s New Museum (2009) and Greater New York at PS1/ MOMA (2010). Her work will be featured at the Venice Biennale in the summer of 2011.

Kölnischer Kunstverein is kindly supported by
Cultural Office of the City of Cologne
Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia
Gaffel Koelsch.

*Image above:
Edition: 3 + 2 AP.
Photo: Viola Yesiltac.
Courtesy the artists.

Kerstin Bratsch and DAS INSTITUT
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Kölnischer Kunstverein
February 8, 2011

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