Hella Gerlach at Kunstverein Jesteburg

Artist: Hella Gerlach

Exhibition title: Gelenkstellen

Venue: Kunstverein Jesteburg, Jesteburg, Germany

Date: October 28, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Kunstverein Jesteburg

In her artistic practice, Hella Gerlach investigates correlations between architectural, physical and social bodies.

„Gelenkstellen“ features a new series of sculptures that initially recall display structures like pedestals. Yet Gerlach has placed these seemingly stable objects on thin legs, which imbues them with a sense of immanent motion. They seem to wander through the exhibition space, contrasting the stability of display plinths with a kind of fragile mobility; some of them appear to stumble, or even collide with each other. Though they appear fragile, these legged pedestals are well-con-joined through durable joints that hold them together in an flexible, but stable stance. These joints are like the “Cremona” connectors that furnish traditional German Fachwerkhäuser – wooden beam and plaster constructions – with a structural integrity that derives from their relative flexibility: as long as the beams can move and adjust to changing conditions, the house remains upright.

Gerlach’s figures thus refer to structural stability, but playfully exaggerate its limits, sometimes turning it upside down and piggyback.

The focus on figures of connection is a leitmotiv that runs through Gerlach’s work. Recent inflatable sculp-tures further address this theme, for example, since their forms can only unfold when breath is injected into them. Their plastic materiality is strong and pliable, but dependent on both the element of air and the human gesture of taking a long, deep breath. This is itself an action that inscribes the human body into the environ-ment upon which the body is dependent. Rather than claiming autonomy, Gerlach’s inflatables, therefore, derive strength and grow through symbiosis. These plastic bodies are linked conceptually to yet another body of ceramic works, which look like long poles, or bars. In fact, however, they are made from smaller units connected together by magnets. These magnetic connections draw the elements together, but simul-taneously indicate possibilities for restructuring. The poles shiver, but cling tenaciously together, not unlike Gerlach’s hand-knotted carpets, some of which let their hair down in streams of dangling yarns that suggest an openness to contingency and interaction.

In this manner, though different in their material quali-ties and forms, each body of work in Gerlach’s exhi-bition draws attention to Gelenkstellen, or joints and intersections, which instead of appearing as weak points reveal themselves as means of drawing dis-parate parts closer together into a stronger and more durable tissue.

Text: Sasha Rossman

Hella Gerlach, born 1977 in Cologne, lives and works in Berlin. She studied experimental sculpture at the Kunst-akademie Düsseldorf, art history at the University of Cologne and design at the Cologne International School of Design. Her work has been shown in institutional solo and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad.

Many thanks to the weaving workshop of LebensWerk-Gemeinschaft, Berlin, Laboratorio Protetto „Roma“, Bolzano, Christa Schramm, Guillermo Frei, Sasha Rossman, Thun Ceramic Residency and the carpentry shop at the Regenbogenfabrik, Berlin.

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Gesellen VIII+IX, (huckepack), 2018, 250 × 90 × 70cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Hairy Debbie, 2018, 117 x 100 x 4cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Geselle XII (kopfüber), 2018, 173 x 23 x 100cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Geselle X, 2018, 173 x 23 x 100cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Calypso, 2018, 115 x 110 x 2cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Geselle XIII, 2018, 210 x 20 x 140cm; Geselle XI, 2018, 130 x 20 x 150cm

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

Hella Gerlach, Raum_Trenner I, 2018, 110 x 290 x 5cm

Hella Gerlach, Aorta I &Aorta III, 2018, Dimension variable

Hella Gerlach, Aorta I &Aorta III, 2018, Dimension variable

Hella Gerlach, Gelenkstellen, 2018, exhibition view, Kunstverein Jesteburg

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