Laura Hinrichsmeyer at Gärtnergasse

Artist: Laura Hinrichsmeyer

Exhibition title: Kennen Sie diese Frau

Venue: Gärtnergasse, Vienna, Austria

Date: May 4 – May 21, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Gärtnergasse, Vienna

For her first solo show in Vienna Kennen Sie diese Frau (Do You Know this Woman) Laura Hinrichsmeyer developed an immersive world in which she herself (or versions of who she (we) could be) roam around in virtual and physical space. Sometimes the portrayals and profiles pop up unexpectedly, fiercely staring at us – whereas others are clearly concerned with their own nightmares.

The contextual starting point of the exhibition is indicated by the artist’s interest in the representation of the self through social media platforms. While always also looking for a feeling of proximity within these realms, Hinrichsmeyer developed the sound piece Profiling, which was released on the Gärtnergasse Facebook page shortly before the opening. Two voices, one of them being her own, tell each other and ourselves about a state of emotional paralysis, triggered by an excessive focus on the depiction and overwriting of the self. This is accompanied by an uncanny gaze which in a digital world can only sometimes be felt, but strongly imagined. The questions and revelations directed towards the listeners turn peculiarly upbeat as the atmosphere progresses into an even more meditative tone. Trying to shape the internal fear and resonating paranoia further into something resembling empathy and connectivity. As the voices fade and digress, I´m attracted by an image of the temporal fragmentation of the self and the many digital traces it leaves on its way.

Stepping into the exhibition space we see amongst furniture-like objects and bronze snakes five high-contrast paintings. Their format reminds of doors, passages and even a vertical scroll surface upon which scraps of notably clear pieces of memory are looming and sticking around. Thus creating the feeling not of perceiving faint and meshed reminiscences, but of memories being cut up and rearranged in front of your eyes. The technique of transferring digital images with acrylic binder and glue onto the canvases makes me become aware of the stretching and overlapping of time in this show. The photos are distorted in the process and inhabited by symbolic animals referring to Egyptian mythologies. Different aesthetics are gathered and outlined by vertical scroll bars and perky lineages. Hybrids of hieroglyphs and idiosyncratic emoticons on the canvas, similar to the voices in the sound piece, present themselves through their strong directionality as messengers of willful connectivity. The images stem from photographs that the artist (among others) was taking during the process of making the exhibition. She captured the surroundings, objects, signs, visitors and passersby in the rooms where Gärtnergasse used to take place and where it is now. She isolated many of these snapshots, which lets them act as symbols on a timeline connecting events and affects that she perceived in the different spaces. Pasted and knotted human hair, familiar faces in in- and exteriors amplify those gatherings of sceneries. Through this intertwining and layering of selves there is a clear refusal towards a superficial consumption of a single representative image of what it could mean to be a woman, an artist or a friend.

By the window lies a mind map – a collaboration with the artist Stine Ølgod. It unfolds further hints to how a shared consciousness could possibly grow. Small captivating drawings of creatures and futuristic beings are connected through rough pencil arrows or synapses and scraps of text. Those entanglements mark contemporary unrest and questions of individualism within an anonymous collective. My eyes are taken along on this time travel in which clichés and role models are stripped off to make way for independency.

Laura Hinrichsmeyer convoluted many common fields in this exhibition, radically dissolving her encounter with intimate and public spaces. She went outside and placed a throne made of paper mâché, which carries out an inherent movement of a draping, close to the entrance of the parking lot, next to the full trash containers. The throne’s surface mimics the worn-out house corner, blends in, and by this escapes its usual convention of being the signifying furniture of a ruling body.

In the garden of the project space Tower of Death, a human sized grill that was specifically crafted by the artist and her friend Philipp Grünewald, was kindled on the opening night. On several stories the tower bore grilled tiny chicken hearts, which were gifts on sticks to the visitors. By establishing this gesture of care the two artists added confidence to the common rituals performed at openings. Meanwhile on a lower level where the feet stomp the grass, other harsh and almost grotesque faces and interiors are dancing on a green painted plaster surface. They appear to be engraved into the edges of two small opposite standing walls. The walls used to stand in as fake facades to display garden lamps of the here pre-existing lamp shop that is now decorated by mold-like reliefs. Laura Hinrichsmeyer chose to sensitively let these imaginative pictures swell out from underneath to further compose what might be a feeling of being part of an animated and shared environment.

-Julia Znoj

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