SOLIDIFIED MASS

Text by Curators

 

4th Edition Eau & Gaz at Lanserhaus, Eppan (Italy) 

Artists: Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Elif Erkan, Masatoshi Noguchi, Karin Ferrari, Helena Dietrich and Janneke Raaphorst, Rosalyn D´Mello.

The Artist Residency Eau&Gaz was founded in 2014 to establish a meeting point in Eppan-Appiano (Italy) for artists and others who are artistically or culturally productive in this context. The aim was to create a location of lasting duration which stands in contrast to the often temporary nature of exhibitions. It has become a platform offering examinations of social, political and aesthetic issues, encouraging collectivity and active exchange. Each year, we invite artists and authors to gather in Eppan to live and work together.
We launch this years’ group exhibition at cultural center Lanserhaus by giving a deeper insight into the artistic practice of Turkish artist Aslı Çavuşoğlu. Our artist talk will be led by Rosalyn D´Mello, an art critic and author from New Delhi. In collaboration with the South Tyrolean online magazine Salto, we will continue this format of the artist talk by engaging the positions of Elif Erkan and Karin Ferrari in a dialogue. Moreover, the interactive installation Elastic Habitat by Helena Dietrich and Janneke Raaphorst as part of the exhibition provides an opportunity to explore and expand the familiar sphere of one’s own identity in intuitive and sensory ways.  

On the occasion of the residency’s fourth edition, we would like to delve into the entanglements of biography and anecdote, the certified and the wildly fictitious. Like a spider, the constructive force must again and again take up the thread of things in order to spin a new narrative. The result is a game of facts and fiction, snares, forgeries and authenticity. To fill voids and conceal fractures, we place meaning in things with which we surround ourselves and our homes. These places, populated with objects, create living spaces for fictionalised characters. Its residents and their surrounding attributes are manifested within.

Aslı Çavuşoğlu’s work examines the conditions under which cultural and historical facts are transformed, represented and interpreted by individuals. Aslı Çavuşoğlu takes on the role of translator, writer or moderator while raising questions not only about how history can be read, but who writes it and to what end. She looks for ruptures and gaps in the narrative, making room for new interpretations. Extracting stories from physical artefacts also shows how the construction and legitimation of truths only gain validity through so-called sources of expertise. While researching narrative and material constellations, objects forgotten or deemed lost are always emerging, bearing their untold histories.

Elif Erkan’s sculptures are like containers which retain, store and protect their contents. They are capable of preserving the performative process of their development. Memory and desire are condensed into a solidified mass within. It is the things our bodies form a physical bond with – optmising it, healing it, protecting it – that are recurrent in Erkan’s work. Central to her new pieces for Eau&Gaz is the question Does Work Love Me? Her folkloristic images addressing the issue are made of felt, using methods derived from fortune telling and numerology. They offer answers which inspire viewers to question their relation to ideas of work, success, and fate.

Rosalyn D’Mello works as an art critic for various Indian magazines. Her debut novel A Handbook For My Lover (2015) – an epistolary novel of sorts – was written over the course of several years as a collection of letters addressed to a nameless lover twice her age. In this extremely personal admission, she writes of sexual desire, masturbation and stretch marks, breaking prevalent taboos in India. The prologue shown in the catalogue tells how the author metaphorically undresses bit by bit, exposing herself to the reader in her nakedness. But as each layer is shed, she frees herself from conformal constraints and increasingly finds pleasure in provocation. 

Masatoshi Noguchi’s installation suggests a shelter or dwelling. Similarly to a shrine inviting divine forces to inhabit a site of worship, its function is one of storage. Memories and desires are registered within the objects, whose shiny, smooth surfaces seem resistant to flaws. The reappearance of the fence motif in the works is striking – with its various levels of meaning ranging from screening, filtering and shielding, it remains ambigious and makes what lies behind it recognisable only within a certain distance. The structures are interspersed with elements inspired by the typical architecture of Shintō gates, marking symbolic forms of passage and entry. 

Helena Dietrich & Janneke Raaphorst - Elastic Habitat is a temple, a playground, a laboratory of exchangeable bodily experiences, where imaginary, invisible or speculative bodies may be explored: an invitation to stretch and transcend the familiar habitat of our physical or virtual bodies. In individual sessions, the participants’ accounts of their momentary physical, mental and emotional states are recorded and transferred to textile, portable sculptures For the exhibition in Eppan-Appiano, the artists Helena Dietrich and Janneke Raaphorst have turned their immersive installation into an interactive “shop” experience. The showroom invites visitors to “try on” or inhabit mobile sculptures and textile bodies.

Karin Ferrari’s artistic research concentrates on narratives of internet subculture. Her interest lies in its (paranoid) imaginative realm as a symptom of our present with its opaque power structures. Ferrari decodes hidden messages and symbols by providing an off-commentary, from opening credits of the Austrian news channel ZIB to pop songs like Azealia Banks’ Atlantis  or Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. Imitating the language and aesthetics of conspiracy videos as part of YouTube culture, she points to a further speculative interpretative level: artwork can no longer be separated from the videos; artistic and “artificial” significance become blurred. Ferrari’s work combines discourses of media theory with popular culture, occultism and fringe science.