Judith Hopf, Christian Jankowski, Anna McCarthy, Alexandra Navratil, Anri Sala, Clea Stracke & Verena Seibt, Veronika Veit and Anna Witt
I WOULD PREFER NOT TO, curated by Dr. Christian Hartard
19.04. - 25.05.2013
|Opening:||Thursday, April 18, 2013, 7-9 pm|
|Introduction:||Dr. Christian Hartard|
|Opening Hours:||Wed/Fri 1-6pm, Thu 1-7pm, Sat 12-4pm|
Self-denial and passive resistance until the very end: “Bartleby, the Scrivener“ chooses this tragic journey through life in Herman Melville’s same-named narration (first published in 1853). Working as a copyist in a lawyer’s office on Wall Street, he refuses to fulfill the tasks given to him by saying politely but clearly: I WOULD PREFER NOT TO. In his state of hopelessness and despair, Bartleby sticks to his rejecting attitude and finally starves because he even refuses to eat.
Despite being named after this famous quote from literature, the exhibition at Esther Donatz Gallery does not proclaim a strict denial of life. Yet, the shown films and videos are various expressions of rebellion, resistance, and attempts to break free from social restrictions. They not only reflect hurtful encounters with the self, but also render simple fights of everyday life. An escape is almost impossible. Moreover, these personal upheavals do not necessarily result in changes. However, keeping still mostly doesn’t seem to be an option.
Besides videos by gallery artists Anna McCarthy, Verena Seibt & Clea Stracke and Veronika Veit, the exhibition introduces works by several guest artists.
In SOME END OF THINGS:THE CONCEPTION OF YOUTH (2011) Judith Hopf (*1969 in Karlsruhe), a participant of the documenta in 2012, lets her main character walk through a modern architecture dressed in an egg’s costume. All the efforts to get access to the building through the door fail. It is doubtful if adjustment is sought for at all or if the “act of being edgy” reveals the uproar of the youth.
Christian Jankowski (* 1968 in Göttingen), who received the Videonale Prize of the KfW Stiftung 2013, explores in ANGELS OF REVENGE (2006) the revenge fantasies of participants of a costume contest which took place during a horror convention in Chicago. Hidden behind a dark and bizarre masquerade visitors answer the question who wronged them most and how they would take vengeance for it. The spectator is confronted with tragic stories, but also with rude insults and threats.
In THE EXTRA (2007) by Alexandra Navratil (*1978 in Zurich) the “outbursts” of the protagonist are mainly visualized in his facial expressions. A man is reflected four times through mirrors practicing different grimaces – sometimes hesitantly, sometimes abruptly. He seems to be caught in a grotesque interaction with his multiplied mirror image that turns out to be an illusion. Alexandra Navratil, who received the Swiss Art Award
Anri Sala (*1974 in Tirana/Albania), who participated in the documenta last year, stages NATURALMYSTIC (TOMAHAWK #2) (2002) in a recording studio. Instead of the expected music the main character imitates the threatening sound of an exploding Tomahawk rocket repeating it several times. Through this acoustic effect, traumatizing and maybe even suppressed war memories become vivid.
ALLES IN ORDNUNG/EVERYTHING’S FINE (II) (2010) by Clea Stracke (* 1982 in Berlin-Tempelhof) & Verena Seibt (*1980 in Dachau) overpowers an orderly man with chaos while examining, structuring and thoroughly sorting out the paper work on his desk. His rigid system is suddenly shaken by uncontrollable forces. Clea Stracke & Verena Seibt were awarded the Bayerische Kunstförderpreis in 2012 and recently presented a work during the Videonale Parcours at Bonner Kunstverein.
In DIE FAUST/THE FIST (2010) by Veronika Veit (*1968 in München) the peace between a mother and a daughter turns out as being deceitful. The monotone sound of piano music accompanies the needlework that is done in solitude and discipline. Suddenly, the icy silence is violently broken. Can the “harmonious veneer” be restored again? Veronika Veit, who received the Bayerische Kunstförderpreis in 2006, has exhibited her work in numerous institutions in Germany and abroad. She currently participates in a show at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe.
For the three-channel video installation GLEITZEIT/FLEXITIME (2010) Anna Witt (* 1981 in Wasserburg/Inn) asked pedestrians to pose with a raised fist in exchange for a symbolic payment. This highly ambiguous gesture that emerged from the labor movement becomes a meaningless action that at the same time is linked to the idea of a market-oriented service society. The participants were allowed to determine the duration of the posture themselves, and thus the expenditure of time that seemed appropriate to them. Anna Witt received the Bayerische Kunstförderpreis in 2012.