Lydia Balke is a painter who combines traditional craftsmanship with an almost surrealistic approach to create a contemporary visual language and topicality, commenting on her surroundings with biting irony. Her world is brutal, monstrous and vicious. Comforting things are simply not envisaged here. In her mocking manner, she presents the crassly realistic visual language of the gothic subculture: dead foxes, potato bags, murderers, small girls with sadistic grins and Christmas caps. Genitals are draped with spaghetti, while a hammer and sickle are smashed against each other over the head of a girl in a camisole.
We are inevitably confronted with what the lack of solidarity and empathy in a climate dominated by post-capitalism leaves behind. There is no way around it, she casts her loneliness and her dreariness frontally in the face of the viewer. There is no such thing as fear, and even less so is the kitsch of dismay. Here, someone throws the state of society and its shortcomings in our faces, challenges us and expects us to react, not to withdraw into our own comfort.
The project for Barbara Thumm’s gallery is based on the models she has been building for her painting for years, which are not normally shown in exhibitions. In the exhibition, we see a tree glued to the wall, which is also depicted in an oil painting. It may be considered one of the models that the artist would have liked to have exhibited in an analogous manner or that she would have liked more people to see. Voilà! Christmas trees appear quite often in unpleasant contexts and the artist had stolen this tree to cement it into a pile of rubble for a year so that it would dry out, annoy the neighbours and could be taped to the wall in time for the next Christmas. Her self-description „Christmas Tree Sadist“ comes to full bloom here.
Lydia Balke was born in Dresden and now lives and works in Hamburg. From 2008-2015, she studied painting with Jutta Koether at the Hfbk Hamburg. Her works are currently on display in the exhibition „Jetzt! Junge Malerei in Deutschland“ („Now! Young Painting in Germany“), which has been at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz and the Museum Wiesbaden and which is currently on view at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Anna Lena Grau
In her mainly sculptural works, Anna Lena Grau explores the sociological and social significance of empty spaces. Through emptying, hollowing out and reproducing, objects as well as bodies become commodities and lose their specific life of their own. How does our contemporary relationship between body and space manifest itself actually? In order to give form to these ideas, she refers to model-like figures of thought from the natural and life sciences, such as the „Kleinsche Flasche“, in which interior and exterior surfaces merge seamlessly into one another, or the archaeological imprint, through which traces of long past times are brought to light. Hanne Loreck describes this as follows: „Intellectually and aesthetically attracted by diagrams and study objects, the artist transforms her confrontations into installations. In doing so, she proceeds empirically, from material experiments to filmic research of individual medusas in the Baltic Sea.
The fascination for certain themes and modes of realization should not, of course, be confused with an individual obsession, since the artist always follows a more general interest in knowledge; this must be called the political. The selected characteristic models and significant structures are transferable to the social field, not one-to-one, but precisely in the mode of the poetic of artistic transformation“.
In the virtual exhibition collage for Galerie Barbara Thumm, Grau transforms the geometric form of a tetrahedron into a simple plastic imprint that is pressed into shape by four fingers. The trigger for the work „Shed“ was so-called „anti-homeless architecture“. From the small intimate touch between four fingers, the artist develops the building blocks for a kind of defensive architecture. In the context of the Corona pandemic, the work can be read as a visualization of a contemporary dichotomy between subjectivity and a solidary self-image. Corona also raises awareness and questions the permeability and fragility of bodies that now live in the home-microcosm. It is a moment of fragility, which finds its form here.
Nina Kuttler’s multidisciplinary practice evolves around questions of approaching the anthropocene and a sense of connection between species, time, oneself and others. In her work, cultural knowledge and mythologies are intertwined with forms of scientific research to ultimately construct a narrative of their own. Rhythmic speech and an observing camera are tools to investigate and comment on the conditions of the environment, in which we live.
Nina Kuttler has developed a radio play for the virtual spaces of Galerie Barbara Thumm. In the piece, the story of electricity is told in fragments with a fascination for creatures such as the electric eel, which were long considered mythical creatures in Europe. The import of these animals from the colonial areas and their further exploration was followed by the development of the commercial use of electricity. Until then, however, electricity was presented to the public as a oddity in spectacular, sometimes erotically charged experiments; the electric eel was presented as a magical creature. In the radio play, these stories are interwoven in dialogue, contradicting whilst complementing each other at the same time. The animations shown in the video are historical representations of the electric organ, created on the basis of the first sections of these animals in Europe, as well as the electric field of an electric eel, visualized with modern research methods.
Metallic Taste & Cracking Sound, 2020
Animation and audio play
Duration: 3:40 min
Verena Schöttmer is focused on installations, paintings and sculpture. In her work she brings together traditional craftsmanship and popular culture, weaving in social codes and quotes.
Schöttmer mostly works with fabric: fabric as tissue, as a flexible haptic substance or in a stronger architectural vein, as a tapestry or a curtain. In her series „Ghostwritings“ (2017- ongoing), she paints with chlorine bleach on denim. This process of decoloration combines a typical subject of art, a mimetic representation of a flower bouquet with a fashionable phenomenon: the „acid washed jeans“ that was common in the 80s punk scene and stood for nonconformism and subversion. In her work she wants to overcome fixed ascriptions, test borders, and design cross-medial spaces.