until 24.09. | #3526ARTatBerlin | Galerie Deschler presents from 21. July 2022 (Opening: 20.07.) the exhibition Paradise Lost by the artist Patricia Waller.
As in the “Innocent” exhibition, Waller, with her latest series of works entitled “Victims”, once again takes a hard look at various forms of worldwide violence against children, the weakest and most defenseless members of our society. In view of the seriousness of the topic, the artist deliberately dispenses with the ironic hyperbole and black humor, which are so often a hallmark of her works. Waller is not concerned with commenting on matters of current politics, even though she is very aware of the fact that art is always embedded within a political and social context. The relevance, however, of the visual language she selected for her recent works is chilling.
The corona crisis, with its sometimes very hard lockdowns, has again drawn public attention to the problem of domestic violence, to which children are so often exposed. With families being isolated in confined spaces over extended periods of time, there was an increase in emotional and physical violence. Reports of sexual abuse of children have also been very present in the media in recent years. The spotlight has not only been on the widespread incidents in the context of the Catholic Church and their attempted whitewashes. New revelations regarding the systematic mistreatment of native children in Canadian institutions during the 20th century have exposed shocking conditions. The regularly recurring school shootings in the United States time and again prompt the same hackneyed phrases of grief and condolence, but do nothing to effect any meaningful changes with regard to overly lax firearm laws: financial interests and ideological dogmas seem more important than the well-being of children.
These days, the terrible effects of wars on the physical and mental health of children is something very hard to not be aware of. Waller’s work is not only concerned with the direct or indirect victims of fighting, such as children who have lost limbs through bombing or land mines, or traumatized children in refugee camps. Child soldiers that have been pressed into service and systematically brain-washed are also victims of violence exerted by adults. Carpet bombings, massacres, the destruction of cities and habitats, food shortages, inflation and economic crises are especially hard on children who cannot understand the context, have not built up emotional resilience and are completely dependent, and they leave deep physical and psychological scars. As a child, the artist herself still knew traumatized fathers and mothers who could not talk about their war experiences, who had as adults or themselves as children witnessed and tacitly endured raping, hunger, coldness and dying. The survivors were deeply molded by these events and directly or indirectly passed it on to the succeeding generations through their own conduct—whether through active or passive violence, emotional distance, failure of coming to terms with the past, addiction and other selfdestructive behavior. That all exhortations of “Never again!” keep falling on deaf ears and that the human potential for violence keeps defying the ever so wonderful achievements of our advanced civilization, is deeply upsetting.
The drastic contrast of homely crochet work and disturbing subject matter, a recurring trademark of Waller’s sculptures, is particularly pronounced in the works of this exhibition. In addition to the crochet sculptures, Waller also works with two-dimensional embroidered images, as well as with pictures made with shiny sequins that stir up associations with parties and show business. Sometimes only outlines or silhouettes can be made out, but the content remains immediately recognizable. It is our familiarity with the motifs that is really frightening: it admonishes us to not give in to the effect of inurement, and to not slacken in our efforts to prevent these kinds of scenarios.
Opening: Wednesday, 20. July 2022, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Thursday, 21. July – Saturday, 24. September 2022To the Gallery
Image caption title: Patricia Waller, Help, exhibition view, 2017 – 2018, wool, filling wool, wood, wire, plastic; crochet, 35 cm each
Exhibition Patricia Waller – Galerie Deschler | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin