September 8, 2017
6 to 10 pm.
Text: Angelica Horn, scroll down.
Doing & Undoing. Motherhood, 4'40'' ( loop ), 2014, by Cristiana de Marchi:
In ancient Greece, Pharmakos was the ritual sacrifice of a scapegoat consisting of the expulsion of an individual, Pharmakos, with the aim of collective purification. Therefore Pharmakos is both the outcast and the savior. "Motherhood" explores the dichotomy of exclusion/inclusion, sacrifice/salvation through a direct juxtaposition: the victim and the executioner, the witness and the mother, thus showing all possible emotional variants for all the roles involved.
Partly Departed, 12'50''( loop ), 2015, by Susanne Schwieter:
In a rehearsal-like setting, the movement sequences of two dancers meet an installation context and structure space and time in a loop. Beginning and end cannot be exactly determined. Alternating between form and anti-form, fixed structures and fragile gestural renderings are combined here in a carefully choreographed ensemble. The reorganization of time opens up questions of reality and perception. Here, choreography defines the present as an uncertain point of reference: the fleeting movement of a process creates permanent memory and is the logical consequence of fluid status.
During the opening hours of the respective venue, the dancers perform the performance within fixed times and take turns every hour.
Handrail (the In Betweens), 125 x 95 x 95 cm, painted steel, wood, 2017, by Susanne Schwieter:
Everyday objects are transformed into artifacts that do not deny their original function but are no longer meant to fulfill it.
In the series "the In Betweens", the relationship between image and object refers to movements in each case and examines the reality between embodiment and disembodiment as well as the separation between image space and real space.
Cristiana de Marchi is an Italian / Lebanese visual artist and author who lives and works in Beirut and Dubai. She received her MFA with honors in Archaeology from the University of Turin, after completing her Bachelor with Honours in Humanities at the same university.Cristiana de Marchi's working method explores the social and political terrain of memory, of past and present places, of identity and disputed borders, and of utensils of contemporary nationality. Using textiles, embroidery, films, and performances, she initiates processes that draw attention to the currencies of power by exploring these very structures. By extracting signs and symbols, she questions the conditions of the systems that constitute them. She reveals the power structures contained in flags and their colors, passports, places, statistics, sociological models, words and letters. By focusing on often overlooked details, she points out how the seemingly harmless actions and details of everyday life are the essence of larger structuring systems.
Cristiana de Marchi writes about her work.In my own perception, the videos, although different in their visual solutions, formally communicate on a deeper level. In fact, the theatrical element is predominant in both of them, each with different staging and yet each one a prerequisite for the possibility of an action to emerge from it. This is certainly true of Doing & Undoing Motherhood, where the meaning of the action is in contradiction to the environment in which it is staged and the tangible drama that this context carries.In both videos, control over the body and body language is a means to abstract the meaning from the action itself and to direct attention to the level of communication.Another one aspect of repetition or iteration, as I prefer to call it, lies in its cyclical nature. This is indeed an essential part of my work, especially in relation to the "Doing & Undoing" series, where the persistent repetition of the same actions points to both the cruelty of the scene and the potential of its counterpart. The repetition breaks up the narrow structure represented by the action, offering it a space for evasion, regardless of the unbearable reality, and beyond.
Susanne Schwieter, born 1971 in Basel, Switzerland, studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1992 to 97 under Kneidl and Rinke, where she completed her training with an academy diploma and master's certificate. After working for many years as a stage designer at the Schauspielhaus Frankfurt, Zurich, Basel, Bochum, Vienna, and other theatres, she now lives and works in Berlin as a visual artist.
A major complex of Susanne Schwieter's work is the ongoing preoccupation with transformation and the unreliable concept of the present. Painting often marks a beginning. This has given rise to a series on the subject of states of matter, which deals with ongoing processes and the dimension of time and its representation in form and gesture.
Susanne Schwieter writes about her woks:
For me, the confrontation between Doing & Undoing Motherhood and Partly departed is very interesting, because the works explore three themes that are basically themes of every performance, but here they are negotiated on a deeper level - staging, body, and repetition (or iteration).
In Partly Departed the staging and the theatrical moment seems to prevail, but is irrelevant and interchangeable. The choreography could be shown anywhere, in this sense there is no stage or stage set, it seeks the neutral white cube. The movement itself is examined as a work of art - which ranks alongside other (rather static) works as one of its own.
The body appears in Partly Departed as something that produces something - it produces movement, sounds, perhaps a smell. It produces time and thus a reality with past and memory. In this sense, the performance focuses very much on action, on the imagination: on things that are not objects, but only fleeting moments between body and space, between dancer and audience, between movement and artwork. Here we find a difference to Doing & Undoing Motherhood: both works deal with people and bodies, sometimes in a narrative way, sometimes in a more abstract way that plays with the loss of content.
The theme of repetition is used in Partly departed as excessive experimentation, as a longing to dissolve boundaries - I see a close connection between the works.
Christiana de Marchi and Susanne Schwieter in the exhibition series „"
A woman dressed in white is sitting in a slaughterhouse embroidering. Seemingly untouched by what is happening around her, she is embroidering on a red ground with white thread. In the course of the video, the word "Motherhood" comes up. The quiet immersion of the embroidering person, the artist, stands in starkest contrast to the sounds and activities of the slaughter of sheep. The men pursue their activities thoughtfully and purposefully, seemingly completely unimpressed by the embroidering woman. The world falls apart into two spheres. The viewer begins to think. At first sight, the concentration may be directed towards the embroidering woman and the word being created, at second sight, towards the men and their craft. The dichotomy does not dissolve.
With "motherhood" the holiest and purest is addressed. Christiana da Marchi writes in her text on the 2014 work: "Motherhood explores the dichotomy of exclusion/inclusion, sacrifice/salvation, through a juxtaposition of presences: the victim and the executioner, the witness and the mother, to symbolize all emotional attachments to all the involved roles. And she goes into ancient sacrificial rituals: "In ancient Greece, Pharmakos was the ritualistic sacrifice of a scapegoat, consisting in the expulsion of an individual, the Pharmakos, in order to gain a collective purification. Therefore, the Pharmakos is at once the outcast and the rescuer."
What is real to be seen in the 4.40-minute film, which is shown in a continuous loop, is the intimacy of the embroidering woman - one would usually imagine such an activity in a domestic setting - and the men, also dressed in white, who go about their business in peace and quiet and with great deliberation: a sheep is brought in, the knife is sharpened, a sheep is hosed down, a sheep is hung up, dead sheep hang from a roundel, fur is loosened with the knife. Red is the fabric, the blood on the sheep, the blood in streaks in the flowing water on the ground. We do not know whether it is a mother or mother-to-be, not whether it is a victim or a scapegoat.
The viewer has to endure the tension between embroidery intimacy and busy slaughter. In the end, the cloth is held up, on which now completely "motherhood" is written in white on red. And suddenly, levels of meaning shoot up to each other, of which one does not want to know anything. In this video, the play of a theatre in which there is no catharsis, extremes are called up. There is no solution.
The situation is completely different in the video by Susanne Schwieter. Here intimacy is the caution in detail, here soft tones are heard. In "Partly Departed" (12.50 min, Loop, 2015) we see two dancers, a young woman, and a young man. First, we see their faces with the writing of the first title word, then his with the second word. Then his hand, which opens, is seen on the wall with his arm stretched out. On the left, an elongated section of an artistic image appears. This results in a sequence of small, often very short sequences of action, which only reveal and open up in their meaning and expressiveness through repeated viewing.
We pay attention to the movement of the bodies, the concentration in movement in the room, on the wall, on the floor. The person lying still is concentrated in himself, a structure. A black chair stands there, a narrow slat lying on the floor in front of the right front leg of the chair with a black section of the otherwise untreated material makes this chair an object, a thing of artistic settlement. The picture, which can always be seen in part or in full, is to be regarded as such an object. Even the radiator may look like this, the door and other things. We are, as it were, completely in the room. The camera gradually pans.
The woman lies on her stomach, her hands supported as if in a push-up position, her face, with eyes closed, strained. Once, while turning around in the room, we think we recognize her completely. On the man again and again the arm, the hand, also dangling, then with a fine finger movement - his turning on the wall, in the room, the corner of the room, the door. Time is disassembled. "Endings and beginnings are not clearly defined." "The choreography transforms the present moment into an unreliable point of reference, with a volatile movement creating a permanent memory." One learns more and more about the space, the people, the things, without really understanding it.
After all, it is the space itself that becomes the object of the work of art, and the time that passes in it. It is the inescapability of passing time, filled with movement, with tenderness, intimate self-reference, being thing and body, an event without history, a purpose in itself. Time is in space. And the viewer, looking at the flat screen, is reminded of himself, of his own life. By combining her video installation with two real artistic objects from the series "In Betweens" from 2017 in this artistic juxtaposition of the series " ", Susanne Schwieter draws attention to the object character of the artwork. The chosen form is the statement in itself, movement and thing.
This exhibition, on view for an evening at Lange Straße 31 and initiated by Carolin Kropff, gives much to think about - and much to see.
The philosopher Angelica Horn lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.
© Angelica Horn, Frankfurt am Main 2017
Kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt.