Martig, Westerlund, Zielony, Armstrong-Six @ Künstlerhaus Bethanien, August 16th, 2012

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FRANÇOIS MARTIG – “The Dawn”

The artist François Martig uses a wide range of media, from sculptural and sound installations to radio documentaries and photography in his pieces. In addition to his visual work, he produces live sound and music performances as well as soundtracks combining soundscapes, field recordings, electro-acoustic music and noise. In 2005 Martig started working on his long-term project Robinsonhotel, where he explores landscape as an evolving socio-economic and political spatial entity and phenomenon. In reference to Robinsonhotel Martig created his exhibition “The Dawn” at Künstlerhaus Bethanien highlighting the human will to manage the landscape. The Zone Rouge (Red Zone) refers to an area of approximately 120.000 acres in what used to be First World War battle-ground in Northern and Eastern France. The war’s impacts on nature were so devastating that there are still measurable chemical residues in the grounds, which are closed to the public, whilst cities like Verdun have become hot spots for military tourism today. As a post-war decree, Germany gave France Black Pine trees to help reforest the land around Verdun. Currently this forest is known for its cheap timber. For his project “Zone Rouge” (2007-2012) Martig bought 1 m3 of pine timber from the area and brought it back to Germany. He combines the wood with postcards, which show an image of the former battleground and inform the viewers about this unknown story. In addition a wasteland occupies the gallery space with soil taken from the sculpture garden in Berlin and a two-channel film projected from a watchtower shows found-footage videos of the worldwide deforestation.

YLVA WESTERLUND – “Evolutionary throwback”

In her drawings, installations, performances, and videos Ylva Westerlund explores various scientific models of knowledge. By assuming alternate roles she switches between the artist-as- researcher to the subject of study itself. Westerlund’s work is influenced by her interests in social studies, post-structuralist feminism, and monsters. In the exhibition “Evolutionary throwback” Ylva Westerlund weaves a visual net, which oscillates between the past, present, and future of human evolution. Inspired by a visit to Berlin’s Natural History Museum – Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity and their displays of casts representing homo sapiens’ ancestor australopithecus anamensis, who has been extinct for four million years. Westerlund developed a complex multi-media installation presented as subjective scientific research. A part of it is her video “Evolutionary throwback” (2012). A plaster cast of the artist’s face as an australopithecus anamensis helps the artist to transform into a fictional creature, a mixture between homo sapiens and australopithecus anamensis, evoking notions of the art activist group Guerrilla Girls.

TOBIAS ZIELONY – “Zuspiel: Big Sexyland”

In a further edition of the ZUSPIEL-series, Künstlerhaus Bethanien presents the film “Big Sexyland” (2008) by photographer and filmmaker Tobias Zielony. In his works Zielony portrays groups of youths in desolate surroundings: the interchangeable peripheries of cities such as Berlin, Bristol, or Marseille. He works in the style of reportage, however, his images are not limited to simply documenting living conditions. Instead, he raises sociological questions: what types of signs construct these young-adults’ identity? What influence does their environment have on their understanding of self, what impact do they have on their environment? Zielony’s works combine and reflect a young seemingly lost generation’s issues of self-perception and judgement of others in the ghettos, prisons, and suburbia of our society. To produce the film presented in Künstlerhaus Bethanien Zielony followed young rent boys in a Berlin sex cinema and park over a period of several months. The film “Big Sexyland” (2008) is set in a Berlin sex cinema, which is not only a place of work, but serves as a “safe haven” for prostitutes. Zielony’s protagonist, a young man, is shown asleep, lying in one of the shabby upholstered seats of the projection area. The only source of light in the darkness is a porn film in the background. Projections outlining mechanical physical movements, monotonous moans and groans, envelop the sleeping young man. In his dreams, the young sex worker transcends the “Big Sexyland” represented in Western Europe, he seems far far away from his daily physical presence and sexual labour. His body is at the centre of Western capitalist society, fulfilling society’s promises – such as venal sex.

DAVID ARMSTRONG-SIX – “Civil Elegies From The Vacuum State”

For his exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, David Armstrong-Six reinvestigates notions of materiality and objecthood in relation to sculpture.  The ten new sculptures in wood, bronze, plaster and glass which are collected here under the umbrella “Civil Elegies From The Vacuum State” are meant as a series of ruminations which seem to emerge equally from the vestiges of dada, Cubism, Situationism and Minimalism. Indeed, the vacuum state, which is the lowest possible field of sustainable energy in quantum physics, is equated here with a studio-based practice and the cumulative conflation of a studio-based language. David Armstrong-Six is searching for the specific shape of sculpture between noble grace and mere refuse, high cultural pretensions and casual collage, technology and nature, between the minimalist’s material sensitivity and the surrealist’s faith in contingency, between familiar forms and un-forms, i.e. elements that have been deplaced, reworked or destroyed. Using statics that are often scarcely credible, he constructs networks within which things communicate.

Text source: http://www.bethanien.de/

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