Hella Gerlach at Acappella

Artist: Hella Gerlach

Exhibition title: Loose Joints

Venue: Acappella, Naples, Italy

Date: April 26 – June 10, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Acappella, Naples

Acappella is pleased to present a show of new work by Hella Gerlach: „LOOSE JOINTS“

For her third exhibition in Naples, Gerlach fills the gallery with a set of new sculptures.

Inflatable plastic forms hang from the ceiling, floating in space, themselves filled with air.  Their organic forms can only unfold when one injects them with breath, and like human bodies, they are strong and pliable, but also vulnerable: They move with the movements of viewer who approaches them. The centers of these inflatable bodies are, thus, connected to the environment that surrounds them; they are enclosed, but also mobile. Gerlach has outfitted them with ropes that connect to various ceramic handles, adding a both a graphic dimension (lines) and a connection to various sculptural materials. Like the inflatables, the ceramics also have open centers, through which the lines of rope flow. Each element is a point of connection, a loose joint that simultaneously anchors and sends the work into new spatial and material directions. Instead of having lines enclose her forms, as contours or traces drawing objects together, Gerlach‘s loose joints seem to disperse her sculptures in space. New textile works pursue a similar strategy. Woven on a looms with collaborators in Bolzano and Berlin, the peripheries of Gerlach‘s carpets are knotted tightly together. But their centers explode, as extensions of thread burst forth and hang to the ground. These open centers reach outward from the grid into space, as if the threads constituting the work were feeling their way to new possibilities and new shores. One might be reminded of a central train station turned inside out: instead of all paths and points conjoining into one singular center, like a national transportation network, the center spills forth numerous new possibilities that are all tangled up and intertwined. Uscita Grande, a giant lap. In Latin, a stemma meant a ribbon or the sort that connected various elements together; in family trees, a stemma could connect various generations of relationships into one tree (a trunk, or Stamm, in German). Gerlach’s ribbons connect various threads into open patterns like a family open to new, contingent developments. Their joints are loose and flexible. Like her linear ceramic rods, which are made of different sections connected with magnets so that they can be re-assembled into new patterns, Gerlach‘s stemmae are loose joints that turn literal and metaphorical centers outward. Their extensions become feeling floaters, extending in space and time like meandering life lines that look forward to unexpected interactions.

Sasha Rossman