until 09.04. | #3366ARTatBerlin | Sexauer Gallery currently shows the solo exhibition Hidden Home by the artist Hannah Parr.
Entering the exhibition hall, one finds oneself in a huge living space, at least at first sight. A double bed in the middle, an ironing board, three monumental mosaics on the back wall, like windows, two smaller ones on a side wall – almost everything red and white, fragmented, broken, split. And a blond wig on a plinth. Seemingly, anyway. But more on that later.
Hannah Parr, who grew up on the south coast of England, lives and works in Zurich. She creates her mosaic-like works from red and white barrier slats that are commonly used in Swiss construction sites. The three monumental red-and-white mosaics on the back wall of the exhibition hall also consist of these slats. The mosaics, which at first seem purely abstract, can be seen as radically abstracted landscapes – a fictional one on the left, a remembered one in the middle, and a real one on the right.
The left mosaic suggests an abstract and fragmented interior with a table, a vase, a draped ceiling, and a window view of a landscape with fields; the middle one a rugged cliff, sea and sky, a remembered childhood landscape of the artist; and the right one a steeply rising alpine massif, over whose ridge a cloud floats. Almost always, the works consist of layersdue to the many wooden pieces, just like the southern English cliffs from the artist’s childhood or the Swiss mountains that Parr is surrounded by in her atelier.
At the center of the space is a metal bed whose frame is covered with a mosaic. Not far from the bed is an ironing board, also mosaicked. On a plinth, almost like a side table, sits a round battery charger, to which artificial blonde hair is attached, like a wig. A charging cable with a plug hangs freely from the plinth. Like the bed and the ironing board, the hair refers to human presence. The ironing board signifies work, order and control, while the bed refers to dreams, disorder and the night. This too, however, is not unambiguous, as the artist explains that she can not only dream in bed but above all “think clearly”.
ART at Berlin – courtesy by Sexauer Gallery and Hannah Parr
A metal emergency cabinet is embedded in a sidewall of the hall, which does not depict a pure living space, as one might assume at first glance, but also incorporates industrial or commercial-looking elements. However, behind the doors of the emergency cabinet, we find neither hose nor fire extinguisher, but a hairdryer and wood chocks, utensils to start a fire, not to extinguish it. A fire extinguisher cabinet as a fireplace. Homey and threatening at the same time.
What kind of a constructed yet deconstructed, homey yet strange, familiar yet irritating world is this? What sort of hidden home is it? The title of the exhibition points to contradictions: a home indeed, but a hidden one. Near and far at the same time. Accessible yet blocked.
Barrier slats are typically used in public spaces and outdoors. The slats serve to delimit but also to warn of danger. Parr transfers this material from the street to the private sphere. This barrier material serves Parr to construct a home that combines the archetypal and the unfamiliar. Simultaneously constructing and deconstructing, the artist shows us a home that, on the one hand, surrounds us as usual, but on the other refers to a home within ourselves, or at least a longing for it, and to a home beyond our known reality, to a terra incognita. A dream? The centrally positioned bed could indicate that. Or a utopia? The large mosaics seem to open the space to an unknown outside world, but one delimited by barrier slats! Contradictio in Adiecto.
Terra incognita is what 15th and 16th century Europeans called places they had not yet “discovered” or mapped. They went in search of “new worlds.” In the 19th century, the exploration of the inner self, or the “mind”, began later to become known as psychoanalysis. Similar to these voyages of discovery into the unknown and the subconscious, Hannah Parr “draws” her own search using thousands of pieces of wood. In doing so, she maps the outside world and her inner self in an artistically transformed succession to the explorers of land masses and the unconscious. With her mosaics reminiscent of wooden rafts, Hannah Parr crosses—to continue the metaphor—between Fluxus and Surrealism. After landing on unknown shores, she may follow tracks, not unlike those of a Mary Bauermeister or Meret Oppenheim. It is not important to conquer the land; what’s important is the search itself.
The production of large wooden mosaics is a slow and painstaking process, for Parr a journey into the unknown, but also a rebellious act against an omnipresent sense of acceleration. The starting point may be familiar images, but the path and the destination are unknown to her. During the working process, the artist is extremely focused and completely with herself. In this respect, the artistic work itself resembles a home, a place where one finds oneself and becomes one with oneself—gains identity. This, however, remains a process that is at all times contradictory. With fragments, but against fragmentation. One with oneself, among thousands of parts, which together in turn create an unknown-known whole: a terra incognita and a familiar one. A home. Concealed. Hidden. Always inside and outside at the same time. Just like ourselves.
Opening: Friday, 11th March 2022, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Friday, 11th March – Saturday, 9 thApril 2022to the gallery
Exhibition Hannah Parr – Sexauer Gallery | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin