Daphne Ahlers at Neuer Essener Kunstverein

Artist: Daphne Ahlers

Exhibition title: Rinnen

Venue: Neuer Essener Kunstverein, Essen, Germany

Date: March 14 – June 17, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Philipp Kurzhals/Neuer Essener Kunstverein

“Two men stand next to each other at a urinal, when the man on the right unexpectedly turns to the left and pees on the leg of the man on the left. Once the man on the left has gone through his options he energetically turns to the right.”

In her works Daphne Ahlers is predominantly concerned with symbols, forms and techniques, which relate to female countervailing power in the broadest sense. She represents soft sculpture in every sense – not only because she primarily uses flexible, soft materials, but also because her sculptures comment on and thwart the rigour of existing, authoritarian images and discourses. Even though her work is obviously rooted in a sculptural tradition, the actual subject of it is the plasticity of societal discourses due to a backward authoritarianism whose rigid, conservative worldview dissolves in the latex, silicone wool and foam of her work.

For Rinnen (German for both ‘gutters’ and ‘flowing’ ), her solo exhibition at the Neue Essener Kunstverein, Ahlers created amongst other works the site specific installation of a wall-mounted basin, whose form and narrative is based on the witches’ well of Edinburgh castle. The artist softened the loveless shape of this memorial to the prosecution and execution of allegedly Scottish witches by extending and shaping it into a gutter. Rather than letting all that is solid melt into air, she lets it flow and drain.