Kalin Lindena’s sculpture Statist: Mein (Extra: Mine, 2011) stood in the entrance to the gallery, as if to greet visitors with a ballet position. A thin black wooden board forms the elongated triangular body, standing bolt upright, while the head is made out of a white glass sphere and the arms, from a hula-hoop and a bicycle tire. The performance could begin.
This collaborative exhibition was reminiscent of a dance theatre piece. Although Lindena’s and Hella Gerlach’s works have never been shown together, the works of the two artists (both born in 1977) seemed to refer to one another. The recurring use of circles and spheres created sightlines and guided the viewer around the space, as if in some secret choreography – first to Lindena’s large-format photograms (all untitled, 2011). As in her films, the ‘extras’ play a crucial role: geometrically flat sculptures made of cheap materials and found objects whose outlines recall Oskar Schlemmer’s costumes for his Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet, 1922). For the photograms, Lindena placed the sculptures in front of huge sheets of photographic paper in her darkened studio, then switched the light on and off before spreading developer over the paper. The result looks like primitive photography: streaks and drips where the developer was spread by hand; blurred, painterly areas; but also clearly defined lines. Each step in the process of making the prints is visible, setting the content in motion. Instead of a signature, there are three handprints on the black background, outlined in white spray-paint. Perhaps a reminder of the past, since Lindena began her career as a graffiti artist.
Gerlach, who studied with Rosemarie Trockel at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, also has little time for stasis. Four hand-sized red ceramic balls – spread around the gallery floor at the entrance to the show – did not stay put. Gerlach hinted at an ancient Egyptian ritual performed for the construction of pyramids, when balls were thrown towards all four points of the compass to determine the structure’s footprint. Yet her aim was to give a physical sense of the gallery space – even if the balls got smashed, as one did here (Ritual of the Four Balls, 2011). There were two red and black wooden sculptures that seemed to stalk through the gallery like building bricks on spider’s legs (Geselle III and Geselle IV, Journeyman III & IV, both 2011). Gerlach also showed three of her textile spaces which oblige the viewer to take an active role. For Element II (Studiolo) (2011), she tailored a kind of cabin out of mustard yellow, black and skin-colour fabric. The slightly transparent muslin shimmered like nylon, and there were rectangular pockets sewn into the cloth at an easy-to-reach height. Before visitors reached inside to touch the contents, forms could be grasped by the eye as bulges on the pockets. The contents turned out to be empty casts of body parts which had been made of porcelain and covered with car paint. Visitors could place their own body parts into the empty casts: a hand or a shoulder in a porcelain double. Instead of extras, the viewers themselves adopted the pose.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell