Artist: Lena Marie Emrich
Exhibition title: meanwhile evaluating doubt with our elbows
Venue: Mélange, Cologne, Germany
Date: June 19 – July 25, 2021
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Mélange, Cologne
The inability to grasp the others’ presence is oftentimes unfathomable. A gentle touch, a simple caress seems impossible in certain moments, though we invent ever more tools to smoothen out the process of physical and emotional entanglement. We are trying to close the gaps between each other, but yet – willingly or not – more and more layers are added to it. But with the right filters, one might cope with it.
With her latest body of work Lena Marie Emrich (*1991, Göttingen, lives and works in Berlin) manifests a moment of distance that has been shaping everyday life in recent times. With adaptation comes the resilience to endure the given status quo, a hardended resilience towards the other and the self.
Independent of current events and yet indebted to them, Emrich explores the intersection of personal affections and sentiment, resulting in objects that radiate the cooled tranquility of industrial products opposing the viewer. Holding their poise, the works act as a barrier and gateway to somewhere else, leaving it up to the imagination of the beholder what to make of it. Emrich asks what it is that separates body, touch and thought from each other, in a time in which the other is approached with caution and to be kept at bay – for the sake of safety.
Her new series takes on the notion of our recently protected environment, allowing us to face but also withhold the other. It is due to our time that we saw small forts of transparent walls being raised, helping to normalize what used to be normal. Look and feel, the latter postponed for the time being. Though the other person is clearly there, his or her gaze gazing at yours, the ties to each other are separated by just thin layers, sealed away, like a shrine. What’s right in front of you is, in fact, out of reach.
The shapes are based on dividers which lately have been made for i.a. for cabs “to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria”. Their soft, warm colors and the inscribed poetic titles such as longing for a strangers shoulder grazing my chest somewhat juxtaposes the reflective slick acrylic surfaces, allowing for a reassuring look upon oneself. The works appearance bear the code of solitude, yet, small anectodes to human interaction remain visible – here a small accessoir, there a handle to give hold, or at least, pretending to.
In a haze of a constant drift towards and away from each other, Emrich marks the total wear and tear of today’s viable social visions of accumulation and acceleration.
But even so: if we are drifting, we better make sure we look good in it.
In collaboration with Smile Initial, Vélaverkstæõi Skagastrandar and Werbetechnik Göke