Oh, the Sick Lady / Ah, the Sick Lady
17 March – 21 April 2007
We are pleased to present new work by Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven in her third solo show at Galerie Barbara Thumm. It coincides with her exhibition “Über das ICH”, which is being shown at the daadgalerie as part of the DAAD’s Berlin Artist-in-Residence programme (17.03.–28.04.2007).
Working across historical boundaries and artistic disciplines, Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven explores different ways of describing the world, which she locates between the antitheses of eros and ratio. In terms of content, this is linked on the one hand to concepts of the sexualized female body, and on the other to a technoid algorithmic logic; formally, this tension manifests itself in both computer-generated and hand-drawn images. In van Kerckhoven’s work, the interior has for many years been a place she has loaded with references, above all to philosophical constructs whose representatives get together and hold discursive seances in her exhibitions. For an artist who views the world from a feminist perspective, the interior almost inevitably presents itself as a space for reflection – it is, after all, the traditionally accepted ‘woman’s place’ and it also symbolizes the restricted nature of women’s sphere of action.
Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven’s new exhibition “Oh, the sick Lady – Ah, the sick Lady (Explodes from Within)” presents what are without a doubt the most personal works to date by the Antwerp-based artist, created during her one-year DAAD residency in Berlin. The experience of spatial distance is very strongly reflected in these new works: in the four light boxes on show, the interior is no longer a stage upon which abstract worlds of thought are presented; instead it is a psychogrammatical architecture into which the artist’s sensitivities are literally inscribed. “Back in Berlin” (2006) is the first interior she made during her residency; the digitally manipulated image is based on an interior view of Berlin’s Charlottenburg Palace, with the artist appearing in the form of a black silhouette. Along the bottom edge of the image are twelve concepts arranged like a kind of key; they refer specifically to particular motifs within the picture and serve as a reference system for the artist’s world of ideas, thus making her a direct part of the image. “Bedstorie Bed” (2006) is in many respects already more distanced; based on a 17th-century French engraving, it presents a traditional art-historical topos – that of the forbidden, eroticized male gaze upon the female. Here, as in all the light boxes, a row of terms appears along the bottom edge; they seem to be conceptual extractions from the image but conversely also provide possible access codes. By contrast, abstract geometrical forms overlaying the main motif represent a view of the world that is filtered through the artistic approaches of modernism.
The twelve drawings, all of which are from the period 2006–2007 and involve an increasing number of collaged elements, seem to be imbued with psychological expressiveness – perhaps on account of their hand-drawn quality – however van Kerckhoven pulls back here once again to more fundamental considerations. She shows how gender-specific structures of power and representation manifest themselves and how they can be determined in such concretely comprehensible things as the allocation of space and its decoration. The figures suggested in her drawings are based on a book about the depiction of female deities and their totem animals; besides these, set pieces of furniture design can be seen as well as totally abstract ‘forms of consciousness’. In her artistic examinations of such varyingly abstract thought processes – of both a practical and a spiritual kind –, Van Kerckhoven characteristically reveals her own conceptual notions and thus also conveys to the viewer her very personal way of describing the world.
Text: Astrid Mania