A CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE DEVOTED TO THE MOVING IMAGE
a Two Person show by Magnus Wallin and Adriane Wachholz
Nov 15 2011 - Jan 11 2012
“Ternal”, a neologism that only achieves meaning when coupled with a prefix (such as e- or noc-), is an exhibition inspired by the notion of ‘spectrality’ and the ‘haunted.’ Traditionally, media critics have long used such words to describe moving image artforms but in recent years, those same terms have also gained currency with scholars aiming to describe our current age, which is one of the virtual. (Drawing on the work of Derrida for instance, writers such as David Ratmoko have drawn comparisons between the gothic in Victorian literature and what is happening in our current media-sphere).
The show consists of 10 video-based installations, 7 by Adriane Wachholz and 3 by Magnus Wallin. The former uses video mapping to literally bring static forms, in particular drawings, to life. These are not traditional “video works” but painterly efforts first and foremost, where original drawings are combined with moving images in an absolutely seamless way. Wallin, by contrast, works with 3D animation and video-game engines to create nightmaric worlds peopled with skeletal forms trapped in hybrid spaces.
In the past writers have long used the idea of “ghosts” to describe the uncanny way in which new media resembles and recreates the sensation of life. As Steen Christiansen writes, ‘Wherever we find media, we find ghosts.’ Yet for writers and scholars such as Antonio Negri, Paul Virilio and David Harvey ‘the ghostly’ has also become an even more potent analogy for the ‘in between’ space that we are increasingly finding ourselves thanks to the juggernaut of technology. For Virilio technology has warped and changed our perception of time, while for Harvey it has forever altered our understanding of space. Yet that collapse—of both space and time—can also be seen as the result of, and the very condition for, ‘the new spectrality’ as Negri calls it. “The new spectrality is here,” he writes in The Specter’s Smile. “And we’re entirely within its real illusion… We’ve nothing more than this real illusion before us and behind us. There’s no longer an outside […] only a radical ‘Unheimlich’ remains in which we are immersed.”
While Adriane Wachholz and Magnus Wallin come from different backgrounds and methodologies, they both share an interest in this collapsed space. Each explores it in different ways but together, their explore ideas of representation, realism and the marvelous.
Works in the exhibition:
Front lobby north wall (left)
HD video mapped onto a hand drawing and photographed. Silent. 16:21 mins loop
Front Lobby south wall (right, in darkened space)
Single channel HD video, 3d animation, 16:9, stereo sound, variable dimensions.5 mins
Dark Friend 2010-2012,
Standing screen, printed drawing, 171 x 207 cm. HD video mapped onto the surface. Silent. 8:45 min loop
Original site-specific drawings photographed and printed, HD video mapped onto the surface. Two projectors, silent, 8:38 loop
Middle area (right)
Three original drawings photographed and printed, HD video mapped onto the surface. Silent, 5:35 loop
After all 2012,
Single channel video on flats creen. Vertical orientation. 2.40 loop
Middle area (left, down hallway)
The Gate 2012,
Original drawing photographed and printed, 3’ x 25’. HD video mapped onto the surface. Projector, media player, silent.
Small back room to north (far left)
Single channel HD video, dimensions variable, projector, media player, speakers. 6 min loop, stereo sound
Large back room to the south (far right)
On two opposing projection screens
HD video 16:9 aspect, dimensions variable, stereo sound,5:46 min loop
About the artists
Born in 1965, Magnus Wallin lives and works in Malmö. He was educated at Valand School of Fine Arts, Gothenburg; and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. Since the 1990s he has exhibited extensively internationally including: the Venice Biennale, Arsenale; the Istanbul Biennial; Tate Modern, London; Des Moines Art Center, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin and Stockholm; and Kunsthalle Wien, Austria. Since 2003 Magnus Wallin is Guest Professor at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Sweden.
Adriane Waccholz is based in Dortmund, Germany, where she works in a variety of mediums including paper, sculpture, painting and video. Her work has garnered a number of important prizes, grants and sponsorships including a Nam June Paik emerging artist award and the DEW21 Art Prize for Contemporary Art. Ternal is her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and the US, and focuses entirely on her video sculptures.
More About Ternal
“Dreams of progress and reason are haunted by nightmares” (Italo Calvino 1987).
Adriane Wachholz in particular, deals with this notion of collapsed space quite directly in her many installations, drawings and sculptures. Much of her work is centered on detailed drawings that she makes on site—whether in a gallery or museum space. And more often than not, she uses those same drawings to create equally rigorous, digital “masks” via computer software programs. Such masks allow her to project original video material—often shot in and around the location of the exhibition—into extremely precise areas of the drawing (via mapping techniques). The result is a hybrid art form that embraces both, traditional methodologies such as painting and the cinematic, yet transcends them to the point where each is forever liberated from their core constraints (painting is freed from stasis while cinema breaks from 16:9 aspect ratios).
However, despite (or perhaps because of) her grasp of this new spectrality, Wachholz is not necessarily interested in the idea that drawings have traditionally been seen as the most direct way to sense the “ghostly” presence of an artist. Instead she has deliberately photographed each of the seven drawings made for Ternal and presented them not as hand-made objects, but machine-prints. Thus the links between the signified and the signifier have been thrown even further into a hall of mirrors, where the real and the unreal forever reflect each other. But that, of course, is the nature of both, the technological environment we live in, and the very place of the haunted. As Christiansen points out in Hauntology, “the haunted exist in a space that problematizes the question of presence and absence and opens up all manners of disavowed spaces; real, unreal, profane, unconscious, libidinal, spectral, etc”
Indeed, after experiencing Wachholz’s work Sascha Winter wrote, “The field of tension and alteration—in both a medial and an aesthetic sense—that Adriane Wachholz spans between the motionless drawing, the ephemeral projection and the space filling installation forever makes the viewer seek new aspects, perceptions and interpretations. Working like psychological projections, her [installations] evoke associations and emotions that continually alternate between reality and fiction, between past and present, between perception and imagination. In the final analysis the suggestive mediality and aesthetics of her works permanently call into question the fundamental dimensions of space and time and define them anew.”
This is also the space of the Gothic, which, according to Christiansen, is surfacing once again, just as it always does “whenever a culture undergoes radical changes.” As he writes, “During these times the Gothic emerges as uncanny displacements, blurring boundaries and haunting uncertainties. This is a typical argument of the Gothic, which is usually regarded as excessive and transgressive in nature, with the added point that the Gothic transgressions and monsters are not ‘just’ fantastical, but that “rather they illustrate the presence of certain cultural anxieties that are indirectly expressed through apparently fantastical forms.”
Magnus Wallin delves directly into the Gothic in his film, video, and sculpture works. Much of his practice is inspired by both, his own dreams (and nightmares) and medieval artworks, anatomical models, early medical publications and pop culture. However, his focus is often concerned with the human form—both as idealized image and as something fallible and corrupt.
The videos in Ternal, for example, offer images of the human form stripped down to little more than flesh, muscle and bone. Using the physics engine culled from video games, he’s able to create dream-like scenarios that ‘breath life’ into human figures that are routinely searching for some kind of emancipation. That idea takes on even more relevance when you realize that the majority of his figures are culled from key sources, such as the Nazi-sponsored films of Leni Riefenstahl and Hieronymus Bosch. By doing so, Wallin is less interested in the reference itself as much as the way in which such artists have used the human form as a way of idolization or, in the case of Bosch, an icon of disgust. For the video Elements (2010) for example, his figures are reduced down to little more than muscle and bone, which is a direct reference to Muscle Men the first modern illustrated work on anatomy, namely Andreas Vesalius´ Fabrica printed in Basel in 1543. But Wallin’s figures are not meant to be idolized or celebrated. Instead they become the very incarnation of the Carnivalesque—grotesque figures haunted by bodily organs and demonic half-human, half-animal beasts.
However, as Sara Arrhenius has noted, “the world that Wallin creates in his works makes no claims on realism or any ‘ur’ reality. Instead, his interest lies in how we create concepts and ideologies through the use of images (and appropriated technological forms borrowed from video games and the like]. Hieronymus Bosch, pictorial quotations of Leni Riefenstahl's films, and psychedelic visions of paradise, reminiscent of new age imagery, appear side by side.”