The title of your last solo exhibition – which I had to google-translate– sounds tremendously melodic in its original language. If hurriedly converted into English, Adern auf der Stirn will literally result in “veins on the forehead,” which– if in turn google-searched– will throw a bunch of pictures of Angelina Jolie. Alongside these, a remarkable portion of the image mosaic would be occupied by the heavily-circulated meme featuring a high-school kid contorted as death, about to have his forehead veins blown up. What does Veins on the Forehead mean within the context of this exhibition?
..That is funny, because Angelina also popped up when i googled the phrase for possible flyer ideas after i had decided the title for the exhibition. I was surprised that there was not much diversity in the image finds and a little bit disappointed that I did not find any images that I was searching for; swollen, red, strained and angry faces with veins popping out. :)
I took Adern auf der Stirn or Veins on the Forehead as a title for the exhibition because it refers to some sorts of inner pressure, tension and strain which is reflected in the sculptures which are the center pieces of the exhibition. Starting point of the works were thoughts about the connections between labor and recreation or recreational distractments in forms of creative entertainment and amusements such as art, TV, ect. There is no pigment for color to paint a painting or LEDs for making a TV screen without workforce (and/or hard labor). Blunt work creates a desire for colorful distraction. A vicious circle (albeit one with imbalance). There is this pressure and unease coming with hard, unrewarding, senseless and precarious wage labor, that often leaves people disappointed, bitter and depressed. The system is filled with an atmosphere of gudge and ill will rooted in senseless competition and bad mood can easily spread into all areas of daily life and creates distrust and suspicion. The usual (human/capitalist) problematics …. These were some underlying thoughts in the process, and I tried to work with this underlying feeling of unease. Throughout the process everything became very abstracted and this thought process did not directly translate into the physical appearance of the art pieces. It is more like a feeling that survived the process and hopefully is still somewhat recognizable. On the installation level - especially with the placements of the screens - I tried to slightly restrict the freedom of movement or sight with quasi obstacles and creating narrow spaces. I closed the window shutters and installed an air ventilating system to create a slightly underlying claustrophobic atmosphere, although the room was spacious and well lid...this kind of stuff... And of course the wedged faces and the distorted expressions feed into a certain feeling while watching them.
The press release of the show consists in a poem. Did you write it?
Yes the Poem is written by me. It reflects on the moon as a proto screen. A shining object which our ancestors watched at night probably while recreating after exhausting days. Its bluish and cold color is much like the display of smartphones or laptops that we stare into these days. I wrote it when I showed 3 similar works with attached white faces. These looked much more like moons. I called them Stare Moons … Although this recent more colorful works are not really moons anymore…
What was the process behind creating the works?
Usually, different, sometimes overlapping, projects run in parallel. I gather materials and ideas until a combination of both makes sense. Sometime this process takes very long and sometimes it goes fast. Sometimes the material - which can be everything in that manner, that interests me as a thing, an image, a piece of plastic, a video, text, etc. … - is the leading part in this process and sometimes the idea. It’s hard to describe; all parts are accumulating in loose connections and vage shapes until the point where everything suddenly fits together. About one year ago I became very intrigued by the shape of a particular screenholder VESA adapter and started working with it. I had started working with sculpted faces in other projects and began to combine these things. The structure and shape of the screenholder kind of influenced the subject matter and design of the faces in the process, it determined the thought process and the decisions for this strained and suspicious facial expressions. I´m still experimenting with shapes and surfaces of the faces. In the last two exhibition they were covered with pure pigment in order to get a strong colored, matt but velvety surface that stands out from the coated metal. The faces are exchangeable, whereas the holding structure stays the same and only changeable in their alignment. So the works in this exhibition are just temporary manifestations of a sculpting and development process that will go on. The videos that were shown alongside the sculptures are edited in a way to transport a certain feeling and unease that is underlying the flow of images and narrating voices. One finds similar and recurring elements throughout the different footage and abstract references that follow certain narratives around the above mentioned topics or thought processes and are constructed out of researched, self shot and found footage that were mixed and combined with different and unrelated sound material, wedging voices into the structure of crappy and clumsy cartoons.
The moon is a recurrent symbol in Adern auf der Stirn, it appears in the poem as a metaphor of digital screens; it pops out in the exhibition space– mounted on aluminum structures resembling a TV wall mount kit. The moon is sometimes witty, sarcastic, sometimes evil, demonic, sassy-devil-emoji look alike.
Yes, the metal structure affected the shape of the faces, which are therefore reminiscent of cartoon moons. In cartoons the moon always appears to be a little inane, smug and sluggish. It is also strongly connected to esoteric and conspiracy theories which makes it interesting when putting it in context of labor and recreation. It serves as a vehicle and projection plane to escape reality. There is a lot of stuff going on and a whole universe connected to the moon on many levels. But for me the more important part of the sculpture is that the faces are attached or part of the metal structure as if they were cultivated on it. This symbolic living-matter-machine-connection (although there is nothing alive here and no machine). The combination of the precise and straight metal structure and the clumsy , mad cartoonish, naive sculpted faces.
Is there a place, a safe spot, for you where the pressure drops down? It can either be a physical or metaphorical entity.
Pressure is always on!
Is that your studio? Do you have one?
At the moment I don´t have a studio. Most of my physical work is safely stored in a barn. I had some nice studios in Dresden and Berlin over the last years but they are all gone and now i´m in a transition preparing for my residency at ISCP NYC where I´ll work on A project with Tilman Hornig. So I meanly work on my computer this days editing and finishing off video and image projects, do research and so on. Other smaller material related stuff i do at home. I can easily adapt to different working situations and environments, my practise is not really bound to certain materials or physical conditions.
What are you currently working on?
I´m currently working on a pseudo scientific research project involving hair esp. dreadlocks and brain-enhancing technology, which is going on in the background for a while now, and will take several different forms such as video and sculpture. Another current project examines the similarities in the changing behaviours and hunting strategies of roadkill-eating birds of prey and artists of post-digital generation which will lead to a series of images/photographs and a publication. This project builds on a group exhibition I curated 2 years ago called No Need To Hunt — We Just Wait For The Roadkill, which revolved around the same questions. And together with Tilman Hornig I concieved and curated a group exhibition with video works that will take place in 3 stretch limousines that will be part of this years Roskilde Festival’s art program in early July.
courtesy of the artist
words FEDERICO SARGENTONE
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