PASSE-AVANT*away from keyboard
with Un-Zu Ha-Nul Lee, Julia Carolin Kothe and Mira Mann
11/12/2021 – 30/01/ 2022
The sculptural installations – including video, text, sound and performance – of Julia Carolin Kothe negotiate the (im-)possibilities of communication between (digital) objects, spaces and bodies. Her practice evolves in non-linear acts or chapters based on narratives combining fiction and theory that respond to particular conditions of exhibition spaces and the bodies within it. At Rosa Stern Space, she presented the newly commissioned piece It keep running through her mind and she keeps softly humming to herself… ffff, click, tick, plop, ptui (2021). Here, a short video sequence extracted from a recording by Kothe’s father that depicts the artist at the age of four, is blended with black and warm-toned screens from which blue light has been abstracted. Presented on an iPhone embedded in a piece of wood that has been adapted to the size of hand luggage on flights, the work, thus, hints at the pandemic conditions of art production and transport. Combined with miniature sculptures consisting of so-called ‘lazy-nack holders’ – gadgets designed to consume digital media passively – that hold ceramics in the shape of broken and deformed iPhones, Kothe’s installation questions how the human relation to corporeality has been altered in the disembodied spaces of data, algorithms and technology of the 21st century.
Un-Zu Ha-Nul Lee’s installation sorry, I'm late I didn't want to come (2020-21) focuses on the indifferences between work and leisure as well as private and professional space, posing questions like: How can work remain measurable when private and professional concerns – especially in the arts – are blurred anyway? Addressing the fusion of the digital and physical in contemporary working spaces, alongside the effects of labour privatization, Lee visualizes work processes through a re-moulded workplace made of silicone. Using the luminescent material resembling human skin to form a backdrop that is both a workspace and home, the artist’s installation reflects on the pitfalls of ‘the home as office’. A soundscape of distant office noises, such as the clicking of keyboards or the crunch of a secretly opened bag of chips, refers to the absence of the body and its needs on an auditive level.
Mira Mann’s space-specific installations and performances analyze the intertwinement of individual/collective identity- and memory building within socio-historical structures and power relations. Fiction and storytelling lie at the heart of Mann’s practice, aiming to deconstruct cultural hegemonies and the privileging of heteronormativity. For ‘Away from Keyboard’, the artist combines ‘trees of heaven’ (in German: ‘Götterbäume’) with a series of tin objects reminiscent of ailanthus silkmoths (Exported phantasms of a retired silversmith) – both originating from South East Asia –, referencing the consequences and continuities of Asian-diasporic migration through the colonial trade. In the series Character capsule (shifter/ego/primer), three contemporary ritual sites preserve small probs such as dragons, masks or hair combs in illuminated containers. The items recall characters derived from the artist’s most recent multi-parted performances ssssuuuu-guuuung-ggggaaaa, extracurricular activity 1+2, and let me tell you en detail (all works, 2021), which are dealing with ‘Pansori’, a traditional Korean genre of musical storytelling. Mann’s performative and sculptural work not only archives but calls attention to the fluidity of multiple identities, alter-egos and cyborgian personas we hold – both on- and offline – and how they are born out of and inform one another.
curated by Sonja Borstner & Carina Bukuts
fotos by Vincent Entekhabi
grafics by Anne Büttner