THE UNIVERSE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, BABE

April 9 - May 6 2010

Menno Aden
Jessica Buhlmann
Steffi Stangl

Curated by Uwe Goldenstein

Unusual perspectives are opened by Menno Aden's photographic works, painter Jessica Buhlmann's dissolving spaces and object-artist Steffi Stangl's entrancing apparatuses. Together, these three young Berlin-based artists propose a remarkable re-negotiation of the abstract-concrete relationship, as well as shedding light on possible orientation strategies in a world obscured and distorted by visual overload. Theirs is a concentrated regard on the present that opposes a purely affirmative acceptance of reality. Contemplation, that almost forgotten virtue, here works to expose inside, often concealed relationships; a strictly defined artistic space alludes to the model-like world we inhabit. Thus the combined effect of these works is to direct our view onto a world-space that is at once symbolic and so immediate it cannot be ignored. It is an understanding of space in which, as we shall see, infinity itself finds its place - an infinite, metaphysical non-place which these three artists all refer to in distinctly different ways.

Menno Aden - Untitled (Lift)
Menno Aden - Untitled (Lift), 2009, lightjetprint, 71×90cm

The View From The Universe Into Itself

Thus Menno Aden's depopulated Space-Portraits show a familiar world from a utopian, universal perspective, that is to say steeply from above. In these well-rehearsed yet eerily alienating situations, our habitual modes of perception are placed into question and can no longer be taken for granted. Both public and private space are generalised in a factual, systematic order, which affords a view of reality as a simple, generic constellation. Space is shown from a sublime, elevated position, while at the same time we are trapped in it; an initially dominant and powerful perspective eventually transforms itself into a fragile mental state verging on loneliness.

Jessica Buhlmann - Lake
Jessica Buhlmann - Lake, 2009, oil on canvas, 190×155cm

The Universe In My Mind

By contrast, Jessica Buhlmann explores the maximum degree of abstraction of specifically defined spaces. We simultaneously perceive a landscape or architectural motive and its geometric abstraction. Her abstract, fragmented painting oscillates between a pure play of colour and attempted self-integration as landscapes are discovered and interior spaces open. The viewer likewise finds herself projecting onto different layers, thereby making her way back into her own self. The back-and-forth movement between a landscape that eventually reveals itself to be projected interiority and then dissolve anew leads into an interminable movement.

Steffi Stangl - Sandumwälzmaschiene
Steffi Stangl - Sandumwälzer, 2009

The Universe As a Schopenhauer Move

Steffi Stangl's kinetic apparatuses take the form of closed circuits that exemplify the world as an endless functional system, punctuated by an occasional rattling and the surfacing of what are actually invisible forces; in this way, Stangl also lets chance play its part. In an agreeable, at times melancholic manner, her objects thus come to symbolise the inevitable linear progression of time. Just like clockworks, the trickling of sand or the simulated falling and resurrection of matter suggests the endlessly wound-up springs of consciousness that account for the world's innermost cohesion.

All three artists thus focus strongly on those deep-down energies that inform our perception of world-space. In doing so, they subtly refer to the functioning of the world, casting it in a qualitative form that in its finality ultimately even trumps the universe as our furthermost point-of-flight and poetic claim to infinity. For this universe - here understood to be an expansion of our dreams and worldly limitations and thus an innerworldly space - now becomes an abstract idea, a utopia, which one can only befriend by turning inwards. It is ultimately just one part of our phantasmagorical self, in so far as we understand our consciousness as a hermetically sealed, self-referential space, within which the world exists as ceaseless self-reflection.

Uwe Goldenstein



"The Universe Is Not Your Friend, Babe"
by Brandy, Studio B recordings, lyrics and video by Uwe Goldenstein