Agnes Scherer at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen

Artist: Agnes Scherer

Exhibition title: Ein seltsames Spiel

Venue: Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Date: November 4, 2023 – January 21, 2024

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen

Note: Exhibition’s floor plan is available here

In her comprehensive solo exhibition, Agnes Scherer (*1985) condenses life-size papier-mâché figures and paintings into stage-like settings. The title of the show, referencing the song Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel (engl.: Love is a strange game) by the pop singer Connie Francis, explores the different conceptions of romantic love and the power relations that come with it. Common representations and narratives – including medieval rituals or wedding scenes – are dismantled through symbolic shifts to reflect on contemporary views of these images.

«Ein seltsames Spiel» builds on Scherer’s research into cultural and art historical traditions. Overlapping and mutually exacerbating representations of historical and contemporary narratives intermingle to create a grotesque puppet theater. The different figures populate the exhibition spaces as if on a film set or in a wax museum, never fully emerging from the surface of the painted background. Manifestations of romanticised love – widely used archetypes and symbols as well as references to pop culture – intertwine: pictorial mechanisms are revealed as well as the reference systems of the artist and the viewer.

Whether through the representation of medieval jousting or a wedding in white, Agnes Scherer’s spectacular and whimsical spatial settings are narrative and engaging. As if through a peephole or a diorama, she uses theatrical elements to give the viewer a glimpse into the process of her work. The separate, self-contained scenes merge into overarching moods and visual worlds throughout the exhibition. Status symbols of western capitalist societies (fast cars, smartphones, etc.) and bloodsucking vampires find themselves on the same stage here.

In the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, the German artist takes up common notions of heteronormative romanticism – thus the solemn occasion of a wedding becomes the basis for important interrogations: The rehearsed event is revealed in the socio-political contexts in which it inevitably takes place. Humorous and detailed, Agnes Scherer negotiates cultural customs and ritualised ideas, inviting the audience to look behind the scenes and their own habits.