BY Nils Plath in Reviews | 17 JUL 11
Featured in
Issue 2

Antonia Low

Städtische Galerie Nordhorn

BY Nils Plath in Reviews | 17 JUL 11

Antonia Low, Gewicht des Sehens, Detail, 2011

Beyond its function, scaffolding usually marks unfinished segments within the visual space of the city. If these temporary structures allegories of both construction and destruction are perceived at all, then it is never for their own sake and only as something that spoils the view. They seem to be invisible, but they are not absent. Yet the scaffolding placed in the exhibition a raised horseshoe-shaped walkway clearly defined the space. The open side of the room-filling construction was in the process of being either assembled or dismantled. Even as the work was being installed, it left traces on the mirrors in the form of cracks and dents. With every visitor to the exhibition, the polished mirror image of this classic white cube inserted into a disused industrial building under a design by Stephen Craig in the late 1990s became more and more splintered.

In keeping with her brief, Low referred to the architecture of the gallery while offering a commentary on this medium for a markedly passé art aesthetic. Her work turned the pavilion into a showroom for construction projects and sealed off the building as hermetically as possible from its surroundings: the former site of a factory belonging to the now-extinct local textile industry. The architectural autonomy projected as a given by this white cube monad was exposed as a constructed idealization.

Low suggests that exhibition architecture, which is normally taken as timeless, has a history, including future decay. Out of her interest in places where the asynchrony of different eras comes to light, the artist drew inspiration from archaeological sites on Cyprus, such as the ancient city of Kourion where tourists use similar raised walkways to view the ruins, parts of which resemble a building site. As they walk, they destroy the very mosaics they have come to see. Although not primarily conceived as an interactive piece, Lows installation has a walk-on quality which confuses the viewers perceptions by constantly switching references to inside and outside, past and future references that are only activated when viewers find themselves reflected in this outsize model of history.

One thing the intervention fails to clarify is whether this questioning gesture might not actually be a deeply restorative one. Does the offer to break perceptions merely reaffirm the ongoing self-reflectivity of an art institution? An institution that has no fonder wish than to preserve its own existence by means of a practically ineffective institutional critique? Like the mirrored floor, these questions shall remain a fragile matter of opinion.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell