de/montage

Recent works by artists from Berlin

Susanne Kutter, Alexej Meschtschanow, Regine Müller-Waldeck, Christoph Steinmeyer. Curated by Barbara J. Scheuermann.

Art Exhibition previously on at GRUSENMEYER ART GALLERY (Archived) in Belgium.
From Sunday 21 June 2009 to Sunday 13 September 2009

'Rudolf Lutz in einem dadaistisch beklebten Frauenkostüm' image

Published by anonymous on Friday 10 July 2009.
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Berlin is still one of the most attracting cities for artists of our time. This is not only due to the legendary low rents and living costs (which are not so low anymore anyway) but also because of Berlin’s unique history in the last century and its thus unique ‘energy’ which is noticeable for everyone visiting the city’s galleries, artist studios, and, probably even more, its bars and clubs and parks.

Even if one does not believe in ‘trends’, one cannot deny that there are particular trends or rather themes and issues which are at certain times more relevant than they are at others. Among those at the moment there currently seems to be a strong tendency to use everyday objects and settings in a certain manner: by mounting, dismounting and combining familiar items such as furniture, clothing or household articles artists create disturbingly unsettling images, sculptures and scenarios. Their alienating quality sometime remind of the surrealistic practice of assembling and mounting the most diverse objects, yet artists like Susanne Kutter, Alexej Meschtschanow, Regine Müller-Waldeck and Christoph Steinmeyer use these techniques not mainly to find methods of working with the unconscious but rather in order to examine – in clearly conscious and very diverse ways – a wide range of artistic and existential questions. ‘Dé/Montage’ aims to follow these artists on their exploration of these questions in bringing together a curated selection of recent paintings, sculptures, installations and videos from Berlin.

Susanne Kutter’s Flooded Home (2003) functions as a starting point of this parcours of unsettling pieces of art. A living room is slowly being filled up with water until all furniture and plants and decorative objects start to float. What is supposed to be the stable center of a settled home turns out to be as unsettling as one can imagine. Something similar, yet in a very different way, shows Panic Room (2008): a castle, noble and proud, is taken over by mice who, over a period of several weeks, eat up the building (which is a small model made of bread) until it becomes a true ruin and finally collapes.

Floating colours and collapsing forms can also be found in Christoph Steinmeyer’s splendid paintings. It is not only the beguiling game of blurring colours and demounting objects that is striking in them, but also the way in which the artist juxtaposes different art historical references without revealing the concrete source. Film is important for Steinmeyer, as well as old masters’ paintings and – almost inevitable – the art and thinking of the Surrealists. Paintings like Baby Jane (2006) or Kiss (2007) combine all these interests to intriguing visions of space and time – and their dissolving.

Rather obscure iron elements at the wall of the hallway lead into the next room and suggest a different, albeit notional, level of perception. Specially for this exhibition Alexej Meschtschanow and Regine Müller-Waldeck, together with the curator, arranged their sculptures for a collective room installation. Both artists’ works deal particularly with notions of the unconscious and the uncanny.

Already famous are Meschtschanow’s awkward chairs of which one can be found in front of the office. His Dämonen benutzen geschlossene Türen (Demons use closed doors, 2008) is a playful, yet disturbing arrangement of tilted doors, hold (or moved) by weird legs resp. posts. The latter also appear in Rudolf Lutz in einem dadaistisch beklebten Frauenkostüm (Rudolf Lutz dressed in a dadaistically pasted woman’s costume, 2009), there holding or rather pressing a framed photograph of Bauhaus teacher Rudolf Lutz, dressed in an eccentric costume sporting an exalted pose, to the wall.

Regine Müller-Waldeck’s Ich glaube, es ist überwunden, sie zeigt Interesse an ihrer Umgebung (I think it’s overcome, she is showing interest in what’s around her, 2008) builds a strong counterbalance in the room. The black blanket, stuck to a metal board on the wall, could refer to a dark curtain or to bedspread, its colour refers, particularly in conjunction with the title, to sickness and death. Many of Müller-Waldeck’s sculptures work with matters of emotion and memories, using fragments of the known and the familiar, and disarranging them. At the same time repellent and appealing, these artworks, as much as the works by the other artists in this show, make one thing very clear: Nothing is certain. Therefore everything can – and should – be de/mounted.

Barbara J. Scheuermann works as independent curator and writer in Berlin. In her curatorial work and her writings she mainly focuses on video and installation, questions of narrativity, performativity and gender as well as on art from the Middle East. Her doctoral thesis (2005) analyses narrative structures in contemporary artworks using as example works by William Kentridge and Tracey Emin. Before she moved to Berlin in November 2008, she worked as a curator of contemporary art at Tate Modern, London. Previously, she worked at Haus der Kunst, Munich, and K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. As independent writer and art critic she contributes to Kunstzeitung, Informationsdienst Kunst, H art, Kőlner Stadtanzeiger, Intro et al. as well as to several exhibition catalogues and other publications.