I Never Loved Your Mind
1 February – 7 March 2020, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Tanya Leighton is pleased to present ‘I Never Loved Your Mind’, an exhibition by American artist Sam Anderson. This is Anderson’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Sam Anderson’s sculptures resemble prototypes, directly expressed and emptied of unnecessary detail that might over-define their meanings. The show’s title implies a potential, singular narrative, yet Anderson privileges a plurality in which no one protagonist drives the plot. Objects and ideas are collected and arranged in spite of their differences in materiality and characterisation.
Sculptures with titles such as ‘Imagination’ and ‘Opportunists’ illustrate these hard to depict concepts. They do not narrativise them, aiming rather to define them visually. The faceless figures strung together in ‘Opportunists’ move backward and forward, both entering and exiting an open door frame. Likewise, the features of the two sandwich-board men, who serve as the emblem for ‘Imagination’ are so rounded that it is easy to confuse which direction they face. A negotiation takes place between determinate and indeterminate elements. The implication of language paired with minimal gesture creates an evocative psychological space wherein the audience fills in the finer details.
The works include found objects alongside traditional sculptural materials like cast resin and clay. Much like their hand-sculpted counterparts, these found items are at once specific and open-ended. Anderson picks up and turns over colloquialisms and commonplaces complicating their underlying functions. She takes up, for example, the trope of the virtuoso—the archetype of technical mastery, egotism and strategic thinking. There is ‘Maestro’ with a weighty baton—awash with emotion—both tortured and ecstatic, vain and insecure. A critic in a theatre box appears without his usual partner (‘Affair’). ‘Husband’ plays the role of a sought-after prize, strutting to or from work with a briefcase tucked under his arm. Popeye the Sailor—the quintessential strongman—stands atop a curved escalator, shaky in his increasing age, his virile years long behind him. On the other hand, ‘Showgirl’—an assemblage of a silver cup, feathers, and a bullfrog skeleton—points to a disappearing profession that demands virtuosic forms of athleticism and emotional labour.
Traditionally, virtuosity honours specificity and Anderson’s multifaceted approach wilfully avoids definition. Foraging through iconography of the past and present, selecting and rigorously assembling, Anderson examines how perception influences desire and vice versa. ‘I Never Loved Your Mind’ reflects our deceptions and anxieties, our moments of opportunism, pursuits of and reactions to power, and the contours of our interiority. The psychological and interpersonal dramas alluded to in Anderson’s sculptures are universal—not her own, but everybody’s.
13 – 16 February 2020
A Lawnmower in the loft (a sculpture of the book)
14 March – 18 April 2020
Christine Roland and Kara Hamilton
At Kurfürstenstraße 156
1 – 3 May 2020
Hippo Campus, curated by Blair Todd
Newlyn Art Gallery & the Exchange, Penzance, Cornwall
14 February – 6 June 2020
Olomouc Triennale 2020: The Universal, curated by Gina Renotière
Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis, curated by Professor Daniel Sturgis, Bauhaus University, Weimar
Opening January 2020
Art in the Age of Anxiety
Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
21 March – 21 June 2020
Diversity / United. Contemporary European Art. Moscow – Berlin – Paris
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
November 2020 – February 2021
Undo Things Done Exhibition Tour
Senedd, National Assembly for Wales
26 July – 9 September 2020
Beethoven – World.Citizen.Music Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
17 December 2019 – 26 April 2020
Art in the Age of Anxiety
Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
21 March – 21 June 2020
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography
Barbican Centre, London; Luma Foundation, Arles, and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, established in 2008, is dedicated to developing a cross-disciplinary, trans-generational gallery programme with off-site projects, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, critics, art historians, and curators. Its international exhibition programme reflects a variety of opinions and practices as well as Leighton’s associations with American and British experimental cinema, artist’s film and video, performance, minimal and conceptual art.
Director: Simon Gowing
Director: Patrick Armstrong
Project Manager: Marie Egger
Gallery Manager: Melanie Isabel García
Registrar: Henry Babbage
Finance Manager: Stefan Schuster
Tanya Leighton GmbH
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm and by appointment
15 October 2010 – 23 January 2011, Tinguely Museum, Basel
Under Destruction is a group exhibition, featuring twenty internationally known contemporary artists, that examines the use and role of “destruction” in contemporary art. Fifty years after Jean Tinguely's historic Homage to New York (1960) the present exhibition proposes a series of alternative approaches to a theme traditionally associated with the more spectacular and inherently protest-oriented work of Jean Tinguely, Gustav Metzger and others in the 50s and 60s. "If nothing can be created, something must be destroyed", is how Rosalind Krauss succinctly summarized Georges Bataille's La part maudite (The Accursed Share, 1949). While this phrase can basically describe the ethos of Under Destruction, the exhibition raises the stakes normally linked with such a deleterious theme. Not only does it explore the various modes of destruction in art, but, more importantly, it also addresses to what ends it is implemented. Indeed, the exhibition reflects on the subject from a series of angles, perceiving destruction as everything from a generative force to environmental memento mori, and from consumer fallout to a form of poetic transformation.
Predominantly kinetic, the show largely consists of works whose mechanisms reveal themselves in real time to the viewer. The strikingly spectacular nature of some works is complemented by an unexpected sense for subtlety and quietude in other works, the combination of both progressively revealing the rich diversity of destruction in contemporary art. Under Destruction can be divided up into a series of overlapping themes and categories, which are anything but hard and fast, and which inevitably blur in and out of one another.
The contributions of Nina Canell and Pavel Büchler engage with destruction as a form of transformation. In Canell's water-and-cement based work Perpetuum Mobile (40 kg) (2009-2010), in which water is transformed into a mist via sonic vibrations which hardens a nearby sack of cement, a kind of destruction is broken down to some of its finest, molecular components. Meanwhile Büchler's series Modern Paintings (1999-2000), consists of flea-market bought paintings, which are un-stretched, inserted in a washer, and reconstituted by the artist on a stretcher, such that they resemble Art Brut abstractions.
Modes and effects of consumption are addressed in the contributions of Johannes Vogl, Monica Bonvicini, Ariel Orozco, and Michael Landy. Vogl's absurd, homemade contraption Untitled (Machine to produce jam breads, 2007) which senselessly produces pieces of bread with jam on them, addresses questions of overproduction and consequently waste. Comprised of a relatively fragile veneer of plaster precariously placed above a real floor which gradually fills up with holes made by visitors, Bonvicini's installation Plastered (1998), testifies to the consumption and deterioration of architecture by those who use it. Orozco's Doble Desgaste (2005), takes a more metaphysical approach toward consumption, speaking to the concentrated and deliberate dissipation of effort. In this photographic documentation of an “action“, Orozco systematically draws a portrait of a cube shaped eraser in graphite, photographs the portrait, erases it with the same eraser, redraws the eraser on the same piece of paper, photographs it, erases it, and so on until the eraser and the portrait are gone. Finally, Michael Landy's uneasy relationship with the accumulative identity of consumption is registered in the video documentation of his celebrated work Breakdown (2001), in which the artist had all 7,227 of his possessions, classified, dismantled, and destroyed in a department store in central London.
The consequences of consumption inevitably filter into the environment and technology. Arcangelo Sassolino's Untitled (2007), perceives technology as a brute, destructive force, which cannot be disassociated from environmental issues. Activated by the viewer through a motion detection sensor, Untitled is a hydraulic arm that gradually pushes into and destroys a large block of wood. Liz Larner's Corner Basher (1988), likewise depends directly on the visitor participation. This piece consists of a drive shaft mechanism, the activation and speed of which is controlled by the viewer, that swings a chain into and destroys the nearby corner wall. Jonathan Schipper's The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle (2007-2008), pits technology against itself in an allegory of obsolescence, consumption and destruction. The installation is comprised of two cars that slowly enact a head-on collision over the course of an extended period of time, and in doing so, inevitably bring the memento mori onto the stage. Indeed, a close kinsman of destruction, the memento mori necessarily dominates the mood of several works in this exhibition. Christian Marlcay's video installation Guitar Drag (2000), which consists of imagery and a soundtrack of a guitar being dragged behind a pickup truck, is rich in association, the most symbolic being a historically fraught vanitas.
Roman Signer's methodically engineered acts of decimation, here represented by a trio of works, the videos Stuhl (Chair, 2002), Zwei Koffer (Two Suitcases, 2001) and Rampe (ramp, 2008), which respectively and heterogeneously depict the destruction of a chair, the contents of a suitcase and a small truck, have a way of always bringing issues of mortality into play. Nina Beier and Marie Lund's History makes a Young Man Old (2008), departs from the theme of technology and uses performance to facilitate a sense of deterioration wrought by time and use. For this piece, the artists' take turns rolling a crystal ball from wherever it is purchased in the city of an exhibition venue to the exhibition site itself. This powerful but economic work stages a loss of clarity, brought on through an attrition that is determined by forces beyond its control.
Meanwhile, Kris Martin's 100 years (2004) which quite simply consists of a bomb set to go off in 2104, dislocates the moment of destruction into a distant temporal elsewhere, and in doing so, incorporates that elsewhere and the destruction it is destined to undergo into the present, thus extending the domain of destruction well beyond the parameters of the exhibition itself. Where Martin's bomb trades on the future of destruction, other works, such as Ariel Schlesinger's Bubble Machine (2006), deal in its specter, envisaging destruction as pure potential. True to the spirit of Tinguely's quasi unhinged tinkering aesthetic, Schlesinger's madcap machine consists of a mechanism placed on top of a wooden ladder, which periodically drops bubbles of soap onto a small, electrified series of coils, making the bubble burst into flames. Here destruction becomes a more controlled and evocative force. If the melancholy frustration of this work is not without a certain humor, a few other works in this exhibition venture off the deep end into a kind of slapstick decimation. Alex Hubbard's video's for example, such as Cinéopolis (2007), is a humble masterpiece of antic decimation. Replete with a Foley soundtrack, this video portrays the Hubbard carrying out a series of damaging acts upon a small movie screen from a bird's eye point of view, such as torching a group of metallic balloons and then tarring and feathering the screen. Martin Kersels Tumble Room (2001), takes humour to a more spectacular, if acrobatic level. For this piece, Kersels had a room constructed, outfitted it with all the accoutrements of a little girl, and placed it on a mechanism, which rotated the entire room end over end, until it gradually turned the somersaulting contents into dust. The kinetic sculpture is also accompanied by a video of a dancer, perilously negotiating the topples and turns of the room as it tumbles. Here destruction is deployed as bravura, as a kind of dandified testimony to being beyond the reach of destruction, or its effects.
Humour has always been a key component to Jimmie Durham's work, and can certainly be found in his performance St. Frigo (1996). The result of beginning his daily routine for about ten days in a row by throwing cobble stones at a refrigerator for one hour, this piece speaks to destruction as a daily ritual. By dint of this repetitive and iconoclastic act, Durham was able to assert a destructive tendency as a form of affirmation. Repetition likewise informs Alexander Gutke's The White Light of the Void (2002). This 16mm film installation simulates the meltdown of blank film stock, as if the film jammed in the projector, whereupon the bulb promptly burns through the celluloid. This small conflagration in turn produces an amoeba-like form that expands outward from the centre of the frame, swallowing it up and returning the film to its opening white frame, intact, and the loop resumes. This work, which symbolically deals with issues of death, the afterlife and renewal, can be seen as a metaphor for the entire exhibition in which destruction itself is often a force of cyclical renewal. Where Gutke's work brings these metaphysical issues into the picture, Michael Sailstorfer's contribution, which is comprised of a high speed HD video transferred to 16mm film, uses that same picture, so to speak, to depict what for all intents and purposes looks like some kind of big bang, cosmic explosion: that, it turns out, is just a light bulb being shot by a rifle.