Solids&Voids

with Radoslav Maglov

 

SITTart, Düsseldorf

14.04. - 29.04.2018

 

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Installation view: Solids&Voids, 2018
Photo: Jonas Gerhard

The exhibition SOLIDS&VOIDS shows works by Katharina Veerkamp and Radoslav Maglov, which are formally very different, but have come into existence after the artists engaged with similar concepts. The works address the space, its boundaries within an object and the human body, as well as our perception of it.

Both artists question the conventional perception of space in their works. What is space and how do people define it? The infinite space is difficult to comprehend, therefore the architectural concept of space and its subdivision in height, length, width defines our understanding of it. Even though a purely three-dimensional view of space, as Euclid defined it, has been refuted already in the 19th century. Space is a basic condition for the perception of art and especially sculpture.

In their works, Veerkamp and Maglov show various aspects that must be taken into account when searching for a definition of space and stimulate the viewer to contemplate on the nature of space and its relativity. The title Solids & Voids (body, mass, emptiness, cavities) helps the viewer to decipher the works and space in general. The character "&" in the title of the exhibition refers to the state of being in-between, which is of importance for both, the works of the artists, as well as when thinking about space itself.
 
In their works, Veerkamp and Maglov deal with a relative concept of space, physical phenomena such as light as well as their scientific explanation. In both oeuvres, the preoccupation with scientific concepts is not obvious at first sight. The artists create works that are themselves aesthetically pleasing and do not seem to be reminiscent of physical experiments or theories. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes evident, that the works were influenced by the study of complex theories. 

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The series PLACEHOLDER / PORTABLE BLACK HOLES, has been created by Katharina Veerkamp exclusively for the SITTart Gallery. For this, she made casts of four particular spots in the gallery space. In the process, the artist placed a still soft mass of plaster on a spot or object in the room. The plaster eventually takes the shape of the spot it occupies and forced by gravity swallows the place. They define space and the absence of it simultaneously, because the voluminous mass is representative of the space that it occupies.

It was Heidegger who saw in sculpture "the embodiment of places"¹. The PLACEHOLDER / PORTABLE BLACK HOLES absorb space. A sculpture comprised of several placeholders, positioned in the gallery space, behaves the same way. If empty space is not understood as emptiness (because matter and energy also exist in a supposedly empty space according to quantum mechanics), then each shape leaves a negative imprint in space.

At the same time, the objects’ matt black surface evoke the feeling of nothingness. An infinite black void. The volume and the surface are difficult to estimate, they depend on the viewer’s perspective. The light is barely reflected by the black texture and the PLACEHOLDER / PORTABLE BLACK HOLES oscillate between surface and object. Don't they really look like black holes?

The title evokes this thought. It makes us think of black holes that usually represent the supposed nothingness and swallow everything around them, be it matter or light. They can also be associated with parasites, such as leeches. The objects firmly occupy the place they have taken. The black surface has a strong presence in contrast to the white environment. They magically attract the viewer. The textile surface seduces the viewer to touch the supposedly soft objects. At the same time, however, we shy away from it. PLACEHOLDER / PORTABLE BLACK HOLES make the space visible at first place, and draw our attention to areas in the room that we usually overlook. With regards to this series of works the exhibition title SOLIDS&VOIDS refers to a solid body with which the viewer can associate simultaneously solidity and emptiness.
 
Light surrounds us every day. We rarely think of how ephemeral it is. How is it possible to make something that is not tangible, visible? Veerkamp investigates this question in the series MARGARITA BURN. For this purpose she uses the process of cyanotype, an old photographic printing process in which a chemical solution reacts with UV light. It allows her to capture and reproduce natural light, with the exposed parts turning cyan blue.

Here, the artist applies this procedure to silk scarves and combines it with a self-referential content. The photographs, which Veerkamp transfers to silk cloth by means of cyanotype, show medical images of phytophotodermatitis. This skin reaction works in a similar way to the cyanotype process. Certain plant extracts, such as the Bergamot or the Giant hogweed, can cause a skin reaction when the contaminated area is exposed to sun. The skin becomes extremely sensitive and the sunlight is exposed through the plant sap.

Something that seems to be ephemeral and whose shape can hardly be put into words becomes temporarily visible through the reaction of the skin. The sheer silk fabric that Veerkamp has chosen for her work is just as sensitive and gentle as the human skin. It reflects the light and behaves like a skin differentiating from the patterned fabric behind it. Depending on the position and movement, both fabrics comprise into an ever-changing play of color and shadow. By means of these different layers, the artist creates a multi-layered picture. And isn’t the silk cocoon as protective as the skin surrounding our body?

The title SOLIDS&VOIDS refers here to the state of light and addresses its hybrid status. It becomes clearly visible and comes into existence (e.g. spots on the skin), but then fades away and is no longer visible.

1 Heidegger, Martin: Die Kunst und der Raum. L’art et l’Espace. Frankfurt am Main 2007, S. 11.

Constanze Zawadsky

 

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