Wallwerk at Nir Altman

Artist: Josephine Baker, Cole Lu, Brittni Ann Harvey

Exhibition title: Wallwerk

Venue: Nir Altman, Munich, Germany

Date: February 26 – April 17, 2021

Photography: Dirk Tacke / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk is the name of a city on the moon, on the north side of the Schröter crater; a city which would have been observed by Munich-based astronomer and urologist Franz von Paula Gruithuisen in 1822 through a refractive telescope. He would develop on his observations and discoveries in a pamphlet he would publish two years later (in German): Discovery of Many Distinct Traces of Lunar Inhabitants, Especially of One of Their Colossal Buildings (1824). Weirdly enough, the publication only contains one page of – beautiful – illustrations, an attempt at proving how certain irregularities on the surface of the satellite, believed to be manifestations of walls, fortifications and roads, hinted at a developed form of life on the moon.

While these theories were disputed from the moment they were shared, Gruithuisen got a position at the University of Munich in 1926 as Professor of Astronomy, notably for his contributions to the “meteorite impact theory”, which argued that the moon’s craters were formed by meteorites, rather than volcanic eruptions. A fabulous essay titled “In search of historical roots of the meteorite impact theory: Franz von Paula Gruithuisen as the first proponent of an impact cratering model for the Moon in the 1820s” (2019) by geologist Grzegorz Racki explains it all. What interests us here, however, in the context of this exhibition, is how the discovery of Wallwerk and the inception of the meteorite impact theory, beyond the search for scientific truth, could be seen as projected sculptural gestures.

In many ways, the drawings of the walls and roads forming the lunar city look more like proto-land art rather than urban planning. The ones that aim at explaining the formation of craters on the moon via meteorites display a sculptural gesture, in action. If I am speaking about “projected sculptural gestures”, it’s because Gruithuisen was never able to touch the moon, physically. But what if we consider his observations, writings and drawings like the primary sculptural act? What if he did sculpt the moon through his work anyway? And how does this equate to a form of space colonisation?

The three artists gathered in Wallwerk not only offer orientations – look at that compass’ needle on one of Brittni’s sculptures, indicating a false North, or the stereoscope on one of Cole’s assemblages, but also traps and obstacles – both of Josephine’s sculptures operate at the intersection of landscaping and fencing while looking like vessels. All three artists are also inhabiting a space at the junction between sculpture, drawing and painting, which blurs the lines between flatness and relief, wall works that are not for walls: there are bumps, peaks and valleys, everywhere you look. This also manifests through the materiality of the work in presence, testimonies to an ambivalent violence/care polarity at play in the production of the works: Brittni tears fabrics to then tend to its wounds, Josephine alludes to clouds through cotton wool on anticlimb spikes, and Cole burns surfaces to better tell the stories of Geryon and the Moon Hoax. At the end, there’s tenderness, but there’s also rain.

I’ll leave it there and see you soon.
In the hope that you find your own lunar town.

Text by Cédric Fauq (Curator Palais de Tokyo)





Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Wallwerk, 2021, exhibition view, Nir Altman, Munich

Brittni Ann Harvey, Dove Dives West, 2021, oil on burlap, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Mending, 2021, oil on burlap, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Wilted, Not Dead, 2021, oil on burlap, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Lamb of God (clover w/ black), 2021, embroidered polyester, plywood, polypill, bronze, 60.3 x 28 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Lamb of God (clover w/ white), 2021, embroidered polyester, plywood, polypill, bronze, 60.3 x 28 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Duality Devils, 2021, embroidered wool, plywood, polypill, bronze, 38.1 x 38.1 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Duality Devils, 2021, embroidered wool, plywood, polypill, bronze, 38.1 x 38.1 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Duality Devils, 2021, embroidered wool, plywood, polypill, bronze, 38.1 x 38.1 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Lamb of God (bowing robot dog), 2021, embroidered polyester, plywood, polypill, bronze, 50.2 x 105.1 x 60 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Lamb of God (bowing robot dog), 2021, embroidered polyester, plywood, polypill, bronze, 50.2 x 105.1 x 60 cm

Brittni Ann Harvey, Lamb of God (bowing robot dog), 2021, embroidered polyester, plywood, polypill, bronze, 50.2 x 105.1 x 60 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (2), 2021, aluminium tubing and roofing sections, anticlimb spikes, black sand, chalk, charcoal, Dover chalk, clay, filler, MDF, mortar, nails, glass, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, screws, steel threading and nuts, terracotta tiles, 112.1 x 169.9 x 33 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (2), 2021, aluminium tubing and roofing sections, anticlimb spikes, black sand, chalk, charcoal, Dover chalk, clay, filler, MDF, mortar, nails, glass, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, screws, steel threading and nuts, terracotta tiles, 112.1 x 169.9 x 33 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (2), 2021, aluminium tubing and roofing sections, anticlimb spikes, black sand, chalk, charcoal, Dover chalk, clay, filler, MDF, mortar, nails, glass, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, screws, steel threading and nuts, terracotta tiles, 112.1 x 169.9 x 33 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (2), 2021, aluminium tubing and roofing sections, anticlimb spikes, black sand, chalk, charcoal, Dover chalk, clay, filler, MDF, mortar, nails, glass, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, screws, steel threading and nuts, terracotta tiles, 112.1 x 169.9 x 33 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Josephine Baker, Crossing (1), 2021, anticlimb spikes, brass bars, caulk, charcoal, cotton wool, Dover chalk, glass, grout, paints, pigments, pine, plaster, plywood, roofing felt, screws, silicone, tiles, wood piping brackets, 120 x 174 x 42.9 cm

Cole Lu, “There are no gods here, no ghosts and spirits in America, there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past, there’s only the political, and the decoys and the ploys” (Mare Insularum), 2021, galvanized steel, soapstone, Size varies

Cole Lu, “There are no gods here, no ghosts and spirits in America, there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past, there’s only the political, and the decoys and the ploys” (Mare Insularum), 2021, galvanized steel, soapstone, Size varies

Cole Lu, “There are no gods here, no ghosts and spirits in America, there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past, there’s only the political, and the decoys and the ploys” (Mare Insularum), 2021, galvanized steel, soapstone, Size varies

Cole Lu, On the seventeen-day he awoke from the cave while others were still sleeping, he thought only one day has passed, but the sundial is all weathered and aged decades over the night. No one outside the cave speaks his language anymore. He pointed to the night sky where he needed to be, but everyone around him could not see. ( “I took the bus that I was told to take, and I got off—Well it was the very last stop, so I had to get off, I asked the driver was this Brooklyn, and he nodded yes, but he was from one of those foreign countries where they think its good manners to nod at everything even if you have no idea what it is you’re nodding at, and in truth I think he spoke no English at all, which I think would make him ineligible for employment on public transportation. The public being English-speaking, mostly. Do you speak English?”/ The Blind Leading the Blind), 2021, burnt hardboard, silver plate, stereoscope, stereo card, marble (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 30.5 x 45.7 x 90 cm

Cole Lu, On the seventeen-day he awoke from the cave while others were still sleeping, he thought only one day has passed, but the sundial is all weathered and aged decades over the night. No one outside the cave speaks his language anymore. He pointed to the night sky where he needed to be, but everyone around him could not see. ( “I took the bus that I was told to take, and I got off—Well it was the very last stop, so I had to get off, I asked the driver was this Brooklyn, and he nodded yes, but he was from one of those foreign countries where they think its good manners to nod at everything even if you have no idea what it is you’re nodding at, and in truth I think he spoke no English at all, which I think would make him ineligible for employment on public transportation. The public being English-speaking, mostly. Do you speak English?”/ The Blind Leading the Blind), 2021, burnt hardboard, silver plate, stereoscope, stereo card, marble (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 30.5 x 45.7 x 90 cm

Cole Lu, On the seventeen-day he awoke from the cave while others were still sleeping, he thought only one day has passed, but the sundial is all weathered and aged decades over the night. No one outside the cave speaks his language anymore. He pointed to the night sky where he needed to be, but everyone around him could not see. ( “I took the bus that I was told to take, and I got off—Well it was the very last stop, so I had to get off, I asked the driver was this Brooklyn, and he nodded yes, but he was from one of those foreign countries where they think its good manners to nod at everything even if you have no idea what it is you’re nodding at, and in truth I think he spoke no English at all, which I think would make him ineligible for employment on public transportation. The public being English-speaking, mostly. Do you speak English?”/ The Blind Leading the Blind), 2021, burnt hardboard, silver plate, stereoscope, stereo card, marble (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 30.5 x 45.7 x 90 cm

Cole Lu, On the seventeen-day he awoke from the cave while others were still sleeping, he thought only one day has passed, but the sundial is all weathered and aged decades over the night. No one outside the cave speaks his language anymore. He pointed to the night sky where he needed to be, but everyone around him could not see. ( “I took the bus that I was told to take, and I got off—Well it was the very last stop, so I had to get off, I asked the driver was this Brooklyn, and he nodded yes, but he was from one of those foreign countries where they think its good manners to nod at everything even if you have no idea what it is you’re nodding at, and in truth I think he spoke no English at all, which I think would make him ineligible for employment on public transportation. The public being English-speaking, mostly. Do you speak English?”/ The Blind Leading the Blind), 2021, burnt hardboard, silver plate, stereoscope, stereo card, marble (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 30.5 x 45.7 x 90 cm

Cole Lu, Across the deck, I can hear my mother gasp at the sound of rattling metal. Nothing looks like what it was here before. Shadows move around over the deck, but there was nothing there but a crowd of white faces roaring liftoff! (The ocean is near, the sea, far), 2021, black-brushed stainless-steel, sextant (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 35.6 x 66 x 89.9 cm

Cole Lu, Across the deck, I can hear my mother gasp at the sound of rattling metal. Nothing looks like what it was here before. Shadows move around over the deck, but there was nothing there but a crowd of white faces roaring liftoff! (The ocean is near, the sea, far), 2021, black-brushed stainless-steel, sextant (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 35.6 x 66 x 89.9 cm

Cole Lu, Across the deck, I can hear my mother gasp at the sound of rattling metal. Nothing looks like what it was here before. Shadows move around over the deck, but there was nothing there but a crowd of white faces roaring liftoff! (The ocean is near, the sea, far), 2021, black-brushed stainless-steel, sextant (pedestal: metal, concrete plaster), 35.6 x 66 x 89.9 cm

Cole Lu, Because of all these burns on the body, we are sitting on the ice. Later he learned to use a wood plank to make a back brace, strapped the wing tight (Geryon), 2021, burnt linen, rubberwood, 62.2 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm

Cole Lu, Because of all these burns on the body, we are sitting on the ice. Later he learned to use a wood plank to make a back brace, strapped the wing tight (Geryon), 2021, burnt linen, rubberwood, 62.2 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm

Cole Lu, Because of all these burns on the body, we are sitting on the ice. Later he learned to use a wood plank to make a back brace, strapped the wing tight (Geryon), 2021, burnt linen, rubberwood, 62.2 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm

Cole Lu, Of course, pain is a condition, and all conditions are temporary. He walked the width of his mind through the Alps with blood in his teeth (“Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit”), 2021, burnt linen, rubberwood, 62.2 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm

Cole Lu, Of course, pain is a condition, and all conditions are temporary. He walked the width of his mind through the Alps with blood in his teeth (“Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit”), 2021, burnt linen, rubberwood, 62.2 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm