until 16.12. | #4099ARTatBerlin | EIGENHEIM Berlin as a guest at HAUNT shows from 24. November 2023 the exhibition “The waters you touched, now turned to concrete” by the artists Gökçen Dilek Acay, Anna Bittersohl and Nina Röder.
„the waters you touched, now turned to concrete“ is the second exhibition by EIGENHEIM Weimar/Berlin at HAUNT Berlin. The poetic title of the exhibition, which can be interpreted in many different ways, takes us on a journey through the three different artistic positions of Gökçen Dilek Acay, Nina Röder and Anna Bittersohl. Water, the epitome of life, movement and malleability, is brought to a standstill or transformed into concrete by touch. Whether this can be read as a metaphor for the artistic production process or as a warning against man’s destruction of the enviroment remains an open question – and that is a good thing, as the three artists’ approaches differ both in terms of content and form.
When we look at Nina Röder’s underwater landscapes and portraits, for example, a fundamental characteristic of the medium of photography comes to mind. Photography captures movement, brings a living moment to a standstill, preserves it like a memory. The familial transmission of memories and traumas forms an important dimension of the series “Darkness in which I swim” shown in this exhibition. With the darkness of the photographs, Röder draws on a melancholy that was already evident in her earlier works in the natural space. It is a darkness based on the transgenerational trauma of fear of loss, which primarily affects the female line of her family and was presumably triggered by the early death of her great-grandmother. Another thematic level of the series relates to Röder’s long-standing fascination with algae. While some people perceive them as disgusting, creepy or frightening on the surface of the sea because it is impossible to see what is underneath, Röder pursues their personally perceived aesthetic beauty and decorates them as her mother’s hair. This series is initially a focus on creatures that live in different depths of the sea, but which are also characterised by historically evolved narratives – such as the octopus. In films about aliens, it often serves as a phenotypical model and is thus stigmatised as alien or threatening. Due to its different brain structure, it is also a source of fascination: Scientists published a study in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” in 2021, which attributed so-called “episodic-like memory” to cuttlefish. This is an ability that allows squid to remember exactly when and where certain events took place until the last day of their lives. However, due to their mating behaviour, they do not pass these memories on to their offspring.
As soon as you think or feel something that has not been thought or felt before, this new position in the world has solidified and is an indelible part of your individual existence. The indefinite buzzing around of feelings and impressions can be understood as a fluid aggregate state until a clear thought is grasped. As soon as a thought can be captured in the rush of impressions, it cements itself in reality and, regardless of whether it is revised or discarded, it is part of the confrontation with the world. Thoughts, experiences and dialogues with places and objects play an increasingly important role for Anna Bittersohl in the development of her works. The places and objects of her interest are characterised by upheaval and change, liveliness and movement. Let us allow a short quote from the artist to take us into her world of perception: “Nothing that is alive is static. Why do I actually want to take the chair with me? When I was here for the first time, I was looking for a footpath into the open-cast mine, but all the paths around me stop in the middle of the forest. I left it here then, now I’ve come for it. It’s hard to tell whether he belongs here or not. It’s slowly getting darker.” Condensed perceptions solidify in Anna Bittersohl’s paintings and installations in a highly aesthetic and direct way. It seems as if there is a direct connection between the moment of experience and the genesis of the work. This basis for her paintings and complex and elaborate spatial installations is a comprehensible further development of Anna Bittersohl’s motifs, which were based on fragmentary memories of her own experiences and were characterised by fragmentary figurative elements interspersed with overlays and breakthroughs. The new works are more abstract than those that were based on memories of the past due to their focus on the sensual present. The gift of capturing such feelings and sensory perceptions in epic, expressive and colourful images opens a door into the artist’s world and allows the viewer to share in the wealth of sensory impressions.
Gökçen Dilek Acay is interested in the socio-political conditions within which human existence is possible. Oppressive power structures, normative body politics and restrictive gender roles are analysed and criticised using artistic means in the search for an ideal society. In her works, the human in the animal often forms a counter-figure to the animal in the human. She uses various metaphorical elements in her narratives, from the minimal and dysfunctional states of the body and mind to animal figures, their meanings and symbols. The human body and everything that has to do with the human being takes place in your stories through the disguise of different bodies. In this sense, many roles of the body and their meanings shift in Acay’s works, such as the transformation of the essence of animals into different states that are symbolic, or religious symbols that lose their meaning. It is these transitions between states and the hybrid forms that question our viewing habits, such as fixed categories and assigned meanings. The static is set in motion, the inorganic appears miraculously organic, the dead come to life and human and animal faces merge into unknown hybrids. Acay has been exploring experimental craft techniques for years and draws inspiration from Asian and European traditions. Her many artist-in-residencies in Korea, Taiwan and Japan form the basis of this exploration. Asian craftsmanship and its aesthetics play a role in her work, as do European porcelain painting techniques. She uses traditional Asian garments, in particular kimonos as “protest kimonos”. These garments are visual statements that address socio-political issues and advocate change. The fusion of Asian artistic traditions with contemporary themes results in a dynamic and thought-provoking body of work that challenges conventional artistic boundaries and serves as a means of commentary on social action.
Anna Bittersohl was born in 1982 in Dachau / 2003-2009 she studied free painting with Ralph Fleck at the AdBK Nuremberg and completed her masterclass here / lives and works in Leipzig.
Nina Röder born 1983 in Neuendettelsau, Franconia, lives and works in Berlin and Hamburg. She studied media design with a focus on photography at the Bauhaus University Weimar, where she worked as an artistic assistant from 2012-2017. Since 2017 professor of photography at the UE Hamburg / since 2020 Ph.D. graduate in artistic research with a research focus on performative strategies in staged photography in the context of contingency.
Gökçen Dilek Acay was born in Istanbul in 1983 / 2003 – 2008 Bachelor’s degree in violin at the Yildiz Technical University, Art and Design Faculty, Istanbul / 2006 – 2007 Exchange Programme Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar / 2009-2012 studied Fine Arts at the Bauhaus University Weimar, graduating with a diploma / since 2008 worldwide artist in residence residencies including China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, USA, Azerbaijan, France, Italy, lives and works in Berlin.
Opening: Friday, 24. November 2023, 5 – 9 pm
Exhibition dates: Friday, 24. November until Saturday, 15. December 2023
Ort: HAUNT Berlin, Kluckstraße 23A, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten (U-Bahn Kurfürstenstraße)To the gallery
Image caption: courtesy EIGENHEIM Berlin
Exhibition The waters you touched, now turned to concrete – EIGENHEIM Berlin | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibition Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin