Bretz/Holliger, Marta Dyachenko, Bastian Gehbauer, Shirin Sabahi, Thomas Putze
frontviews at Haunt, Kluckstrasse 23, Berlin
Kamera: Robert Windisch
The exhibition Spatial Momentum unifies works by the artists Bretz/Holliger, Marta Dyachenko, Bastian Gehbauer, Thomas Putze and Shirin Sabahi, that are immersively connected to the surrounding art space. The works are not neutrally installed but determine the space itself. They change or even destroy it by movement or another sort of intervention raising the question of a general possibility of an autonomy between an artwork and its setting. A multitude of the showcased works are blurring the line between inner and outdoor space, pushing the question of spatial inseparability even further.
Bretz/Holliger use their performative sculpture Selfportrait Upside Down (2010/2022) to engage drastically with the art space. A casted double portrait of the two artists is attached to a steel cable and a drill. Slow rotary movements of the screwdriver destroy the space and at the same time the cast of Bernhard Bretz and Matthias Holliger’s faces. Space and sculpture are destructively related, producing marks on the walls and on the work itself. The materials of which the work consists of are taken from various places in Berlin that exist in a transitory state.
In contrary the work Displacement transducer (2022) – a 1:20 scale model of one of the exhibition spaces at HAUNT – is of a more subtle nature. The model was transported via bicycle from the artist’s studio in Berlin-Kreuzberg to the exhibition space in Berlin-Tiergarten. The eruptions and vibrations during the ride were documented by a marble covered with ink. The traces of the transportation were re-painted in the exhibition space 20 times larger, creating an enlarged wall painting of the smaller model. The randomness of the movement contradicts the consciously executed painting, whereas the movement functions as a kind of code for the topographical context of the urban space.
Repurposing and recycling are strategies that Shirin Sabahi employs regularly in her practice. With the change of context, a different meaning is ultimately created. The Window Session, an in-situ installation (since 2016) repeats and consequently codifies a new and geometrical pattern. The pattern is reminiscent of buildings in crisis—abandoned, in earthquake zones, or during war bombings—where to minimize the casualties caused by flying glass, windows would be secured by tape. The appearance of the generally discontinued pattern suggests the vulnerability of the physical as well as the ideological space of the exhibition.
The works Untitled (Banister), 2022 and Untitled (Elevator Pieces),2022 consist of construction debris of a residential roof extension in Berlin (Dachgeschossneubau), where Shirin Sabahi used to live. She collected items that have a connection to the building growing in height— such as the end of the banister being sawed off to extend the staircase from the fifth floor to the new sixth floor, the elevator cabin as the entire elevator tunnel needed to be extended and the attic door that formerly opened towards the elevator room and rooftop.
Why do spaces change? In the photographic series Phantasma (2022) Bastian Gehbauer continues to deal with spatial transformations. His current investigation on the discrepancy between a historical and a contemporary purpose of a building started at the so called Baukunstarchiv of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin. While researching Bastian Gehbauer found vintage photography of buildings by the Jewish modernist architect Harry Rosenthal, who mainly build houses for artists and private villas in Berlin. His estate contains photographs of a studio house of writer Arnold Zweig. Rosenthal had completed this house in 1931 and had the construction process photographically documented. After the expropriation by the Nazi general Kaupisch in 1938 and the emigration of both Zweig and Rosenthal, the building was altered to such an extent that nothing of its original aesthetic is recognizable anymore. Kaupisch wanted to eradicate the original architecture and adapt it to the so called “New German Aesthetic”. Since the original studio house itself can no longer be physically entered, it is now the photographic documentation and its artistic interpretation by Bastian Gehbauer that provides an entry into the past worlds, like a phantasm that remains intangible and in the vague.
In the former washroom of HAUNT, Bastian Gehbauer shows his second work Untitled (2022) in the form of photographs that question the relationship between image and space. The work itself was created before the exhibition was set up in HAUNT. They show fragments of all the rooms and corridors including the washroom – condensing the entire building into a single space. It is a “mis en abym”, a picture within a picture and at the same time a room within a room installation.
Where Shirin Sabahi’s work expands towards the inside and the outside of the exhibition space by using transparency and references past fatal happenings (like Bastian Gehbauer), the newly produced work schiffbar ent.mach(t)ung (2022) by Ukrainian-born artist Marta Dyachenko deals with the present. With schiffbar ent.mach(t)ung, she develops a kind of ideological counterpart to her already existing sculptural series schiffbar machung by taking up the current consequences of the war-related sanctions imposed by Russia. Since the beginning of the war against Ukraine, the yachts of Russian oligarchs – the economic powers behind Vladimir Putin – have been detained, including that of Alisher Usmanov: “Shrouded, the oligarch Usmanov’s ship lies in harbour of Hamburg. Put simply, the yacht in its current shrouded form turns into a sculpture in public space, almost like a work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The simple, geometric shape reminds me of architectural models by Kasimir Malewitsch. This “disempowerment” suits the yacht much better; its form is now taking on references to the tradition of free and democratic thinking that Malewitsch is representing.”
Thomas Putzes and Bretz/Holliger’s collaborative work Predecessor (Vorgänger) (2022) consists of 4 white walls using the entire space of a room, representing an impenetrable spatial division. During a performance, the walls are penetrated by the performer’s actions. Starting with delicate touches his actions culminate in a brutal treatment of the walls. As a “predecessor” he is paving new paths in the space for the visitors, but also leaving behind devastation.