Following her contribution to a group exhibition at the start of the year, Substitute & Replacement is Erika Hock’s first individual exhibition at KUTTNER SIEBERT GALERIE. Substitute & Replacement is at the same time a programmatic statement of the Düsseldorf artist. Erika Hock’s art for this exhibition begins by engaging with architecture. Architecture here means constructed space as well as the functional gesture, volume, and constructive detail. In one of her works, Erika Hock transforms the proportions of Dreischeibenhaus, a 1950s building in Düsseldorf that is prominent in terms of urban planning as an element that structures space, into scaffolding covered with fabric. Significant in size, the artistic object naturally retains this function.
The relations of the three parts to one another recall the building itself, while the fabric treatment of the body evokes other associations in the beholder that have rather to do with the interior design of buildings from this period. The texture and color of the outer skin with the applied wooden bars recall an architecture that despite all its pride in a reduction to functionally essential elements in its interior design retains such ornamental detail. In Erika Hock, this playful attitude is quoted, and becomes a key element of the work. The distance between the vertical bars is not always the same, but slowly decreases on the one end, suggesting the narrowing of the object when seen from the side toward a disappearing point. Seen from a certain angle, the work seems to become more narrow, and thus seeks out proximity to a model whose function is the illustration of proportions.
Similar principles are illustrated by a further contribution of Erika Hock at this exhibition. A minimal intervention allows the ring of lights at the rear of the exhibition space to hang with one side from the ceiling. Seen from the ideal standpoint of the entrance, the fluorescent lights create vanishing points that extend the space. Seen from another location, this impression is broken, and thus exposes the constructive element, just as in the sculpture disguised as a model. The ring of lights thus becomes an object, and not longer just serves the purpose of illuminating the gallery. The originally closed form of the ring of lights is maintained, while at the same time by moving from the ceiling into the space seeks out proximity to other objects located in the gallery.
An additional work consists of a steel skeleton lying on the floor, soldered together with four vertical and four horizontal rectangles and following the principle of a hanging façade, in part affixed with differently glazed ceramic plates. The work traces out volumes with its steel bars. With the turn away from fixed bodies to skeleton-like frame constructions and experimenting with open forms, Erika Hock emphasizes the shape and form of the structure. The object abstracted in this way no longer refers to a concrete structural model, but becomes a stand in for modernist architecture.
Erika Hock’s artistic position reveals a current understanding of a formal language in sculpture and installation with clear references to minimal art of the 1960s and 1970s and its occupation with the direct perception of space, volume, and material. Yet Erika Hock counters the phenomenological presence of these characteristics formally in her choice of material and thematically in the construction of an immanent referential point. This break causes a shift in the concept of form-based art towards culture, identity, and experience. And the latter refers both to its immediacy as well as to its mediation.
Erika Hock, born in 1981 in Kirgizstan, now lives and works in Düsseldorf. She studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Rita McBride. In 2009, she received the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Stipendium and the Audi Art Award. This year Erika Hock has received a grant from Kunststiftung NRW.