At A Moment In Time
24. March – 16. May 2021
With Albrecht/Wilke, Solweig de Barry, Kristina Berning, Brad Downey, Ossian Fraser, Lena von Goedeke, Henri Haake, Aneta Kajzer, Lucia Kempkes, Matthieu Martin, Ana Lessing Menjibar, Ariel Reichman, Maximilian Rödel, Jan Vormann and Felix Kiessling
Kunstverein Arnsberg is finally – and delayed by several months due to the pandemic – pleased to present with “At A Moment In Time” its annual editions (Jahresgaben) of 2020. The title deliberately alludes to the well-known fairytale opening “Once upon a time…” which locates events in an indeterminate past. While some of the works in the exhibition actually create fictions, the majority speak to a specific moment in world affairs and are to be understood as reactions to real events and our present.
The exhibition looks back on a busy programme in 2020, which, despite the particular circumstances, was implemented and has repeatedly gained national attention. With Brad Downey, Lucia Kempkes, Ossian Fraser, Kristina Berning, Ana Lessing Menjibar and Ariel Reichman, the Kunstverein presented a series of emerging artists, and in some cases, gave them their first major, institutional appearance in Germany. “At A Moment In Time,” combines works from previous exhibitions with new works by these artists. In addition, we are pleased to show the painters Albrecht/Wilke, Solweig de Barry, Aneta Kajzer, Henri Haake and Maximilian Rödel for the first time at the Kunstverein. Lena von Goedeke, Matthieu Martin and Felix Kiessling will also debut their works in Arnsberg. Finally, the programme is rounded off with works by Jan Vormann, an already familiar artist for the audience of the Kunstverein.
On view are, among others, new works from Brad Downey’s “Melania” series (2019 – ongoing) which centres on the production of the first monument to Melania Trump. On display in Arnsberg is a bronze miniature (2020) of the original wooden sculpture, which was sawn from a living tree near the Slovenian birthplace of the former U.S. First Lady. Downey’s “Melania” monument was set on fire on the 4th July 2020 (American Independence Day). A portrait (2020) to the left of the bronze sculpture bears witness to the deformed figure.
Ariel Reichman also responds to global political affairs with outdoor sculptures, placing particular focus on the omnipresence of war in Israel. His installation “Playground,” which was realised in 2020 as part of his solo exhibition “In Limbo,” is on view in the Ruhr valley until October 2021. The exhibition also features images from his painting series “Cloud” (2016), which, just like his outdoor sculptures, reflects on Reichman’s personal story – the manifestation of war in Israel and the artist’s experience in the Israeli military.
Similarly, Kunstverein Arnsberg’s audience is already acquainted with Jan Vormann for his work in the city centre. The artist restored a historic wall on Steinweg with plastic toy bricks as part of his “Dispatchwork” project, and it has since become part of the cityscape. Now on view at the Kunstverein are works from his new series “Berliner Reichsformat / Berlin Bricks” (2020). Once again, the artist repairs found and historical building materials with plastic bricks; in this case, he restores individual bricks and relics from the former German Empire.
Last year’s duo-exhibition “Mount Analogue,” featuring works by Lucia Kempkes and Ossian Fraser, explored the concept of landscape, and more specifically, the fascination with mountains. Following on from the show, both artists have now published new editions. Kempkes’ photo collage “Arnsberg Alps” (2020) illustrates how, in times of restricted movement, at least spiritual journeys, and escapes into dreamworlds, are still possible to open up new perspectives. With the series “To Protect Us From What We Seek” (2020), the artist focuses on outdoor equipment and clothing especially designed for the immediate experience of nature. If nothing else, her tissue paper sculptures – a down jacket and a Barbour jacket – reveal how much the human species, whose lifestyle is becoming increasingly distant from nature, is in need of protection, even on an everyday level. On the other hand, Ossian Fraser’s photographic works contrast natural landscapes with geometric shapes – circles and squares, which can be understood as the building blocks of human culture and our built environment. As the majority of his work was created during a residency in the Swiss Alps, the photo series “Mountain Of The Mind” addresses the stereotypical representation of the mountain as an emoji. It shows the outdoor sculpture of the same name which was installed in the garden of the Kunstverein in 2020.
Kristina Berning’s sculptures, belonging to the series “Digging Sculptures,” were also inspired by a real landscape: Gotland. The Swedish island is continuously being lifted out of the sea; for 490 million years, the surf has been lapping at the protruding rocks. Only individual rock towers, known as Rauks, have been able to withstand the sea’s forces. They form surreal landscapes, like lonely giants guarding the beach. The mirrored surface in the exhibition follows on from the installation that Berning developed for the Lichthaus Arnsberg in 2020.
In the exhibition, Berning’s sculptures are displayed within close proximity to Felix Kiessling’s work “Antisonne” (2021), which also refers to a natural phenomenon. The light sculpture only partially illuminates the room because the light source is covered by a black circle. The result is a circular glow, a reflection of light that reflects back from the wall, reminiscent of the corona during a total solar eclipse.
Also on a conceptual level, Maximilian Rödel’s paintings reference nature and the painter’s surroundings. The images shown in the exhibition – including the provocatively green and large-format “Legendary Natur II” – can be understood as impressions of a journey that the painter undertook in 2020. No figurative compositions are to be seen here, rather almost monochrome colour spaces.
The paintings of Albrecht/Wilke, Solweig de Barry, Aneta Kajzer and Henri Haake refer to our present. In this sense, the painting duo Albrecht/Wilke establishes a kind of German middle-class pop by assembling a colourful spectrum of corresponding symbolic objects and culinary finesses in their paintings – towels for reserving deck chairs, garden gnomes, Leberkäse [Germanic meatloaf] sandwiches, rollmops and Toast Hawaii.
Likewise, Henri Haake’s drawings and paintings show how attentively the painter observes our reality. With great ease, Haake narrates fragments of human existence between joy and melancholy, deliberately contrasting the current, global political climate.
Similarly, Solweig de Barry draws from her private image pool for her pictorial creations. Her paintings emphasise the fleetingness of experience. De Barry applies figures and objects onto the white canvas in an undefined, flat and gestural manner. The scenes are snatched from their context and transferred to a place where time and space seem to be forgotten.
Finally, Aneta Kajzer’s paintings hazily allude to a reality outside of the picture. Form and colour, figuration and abstraction, blend together. The result, looking back at us from her paintings, recalls the fictional characters from comics and cartoons prominent in Kajzer’s youth. At the same time, her unplanned and intuitively processed images, reveal something deeply human: namely the need to recognise heads, eyes and noses – in other words, faces, and thus a counterpart. In this search for closeness and likemindedness, even the grotesque and monstrous become endearing.
Ana Lessing Menjibar also refers to monsters in her performance “Perpetual Archive” (2020), which was presented at Kulturschmiede 2020 as part of Arnsberg’s Summer of Arts. A video documentation of the performance is now on view at the Kunstverein. In “Perpetual Archive,” Lessing Menjibar embarks on a journey of collective energy and emotion. She opens up a poetic world straddling formality and ecstasy. Elements of contemporary flamenco merge alongside references to the etching series “Los Caprichos” (1797-99) by Francisco de Goya, and particularly the plate “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.” The body, with its internal and external noises, becomes a source of sound and rhythm, and enters into dialogue with Philipp Kullen’s electronic music.
The works by Lena von Goedeke point vehemently to our present. In her six-part series “Transmissions” (2020), the artist focuses on two aspects that have significantly affected life since the Coronavirus outbreak: news and hygiene. In the exhibition, immaculate white towels are embroidered with the contents of news tickers from the first lockdown last spring.
Matthieu Martin also addresses the aspect of security and distance in his ongoing series “Principe de Précaution” (2012 - ongoing). The minimised, technical character of the small-format works on paper is reminiscent of architectural drawings. Details from the exhibition spaces of internationally renowned exhibitions are brought to the fore: security measures taken to protect artworks. However, in Martin’s work, the scenery is reduced to absurdity, for the artworks are missing; all that remains is an empty white cube. From today’s perspective, Martin’s work thus becomes a symbol for art and culture’s pandemic-related standstill. The focus here is not on art, but on security. The security arrangements gathered in the drawings ultimately appear as minimalist installations.
Curation & text: Lydia Korndörfer
Due to the measures taken to contain the Corona virus, Kunstverein Arnsberg is closed to the public until further notice.
Thank you for your understanding.