2017 – Curating the exhibition HEADING FOR A LAND OF ETERNAL SUNSHINE by Nina Wengel (DK) and Annika Unterburg (DE). Hamburg, DE.
I have been working with Nina Wengel for many years but Annika Unterburg I only met once in Hamburg on a curatorial research trip. Led by an intuition I decided to put these two artists together in an exhibition. I wanted to let the exhibition be a visual dialogue between the artists focusing on the notion of time and language, through the use of repetitions.
Why repetitions? I’ve always had a feeling that, when used artistically repetitions stop being a practical method and become an eternal process; they become rituals. With time these rituals do not only become a part of the artistic practice but also a grammar for the artistic language.
In Heading for a land of eternal sunshine Nina Wengel shows a series of paintings with a repetitive sunset motif. Almost like a pattern the motif is painted in different sizes and on different materials such as wood, plastic and cardboard. The many sunsets clearly show that her artistic production is driven by a certain kind of necessity that we cannot see an end to. On a symbolic level the sunsets have a beautiful and romantic connotation, but looking at the almost manic quantity the sunsets get darker connotations like trauma or death. The sunset can be a symbol of a day or a life ending.
Annika Unterburg shows a series of “bildobjekte” and a sculpture. Most of the works have fishing baits and hooks mounted on a painted color surface. A fishing bait is both an attractive and deadly object. In her works, Annika Unterburg examines the relationship between the beautiful, understood as the good and the evil. Something threatening is at stake in her works, which we can sense for instance in the color black used in her paintings. There is something menacing in the tension that develops, while waiting for the fish to bite. One is waiting for the moment that will mark the fish’s transition from life to death. There are two different time perceptions at stake in this waiting: the more meditative circular sense of time, like in meditation and the more linear one that belongs to the strategic thinking.
The philosopher and linguist Per Aage Brandt explains in one of his theories that the human language related to imagination was developed by fishing women “To fish (without sailing) is especially a matter of standing in the water and waiting, and then, when conscious actions reflect themselves mimetically and readably, the focus will necessarily be intentionally on the absent object – the fish – as the subject for the waiting.” In other words, our ability to create images of something that does not exist, rather to relate to abstractions as a communication method, is associated with the act of waiting. In Annika Unterburg’s works, the waiting is connected to the fish while it in Nina Wengel’s relates to the sun or the new day and not least, the hope; the belief that there is a reason to go on.
During the installation of artworks, I collaborated with the two artists in order to create a single, space-related, exhibition also connected to the characteristics of the exhibition venue. I found the raw aesthetics of the xpon-art space and the partially ghostly atmosphere, supporting the concept of the exhibition: Something that is absent but still communicative, something that seems threatening as much because of its beauty as its dark side; Something that builds bridges between different perceptions of time.
The exhibition can be experienced until March 30th, 2017 at xpon-art, Respoldstraße 45, 20097 Hamburg. Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday 12.00-18.00, Monday-Tuesday 18.00-21.00.