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Berlin

RECEPTION

Exhibition Detail
The End of the World
Kurfürstenstraße 5/5a
Berlin
Germany


February 27th, 2010 - April 17th, 2010
Opening: 
February 26th, 2010 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 
Das Ende der Welt (The End of the World), Annette WeisserAnnette Weisser,
Das Ende der Welt (The End of the World),
2007, drawing transferred on translucent foil, wood/metal frame, laquer, 80 slides, projector, height: 150 cm
© Courtesy of the artist and RECEPTION
The Good, the Bad and the Boring (Maria), Annette WeisserAnnette Weisser,
The Good, the Bad and the Boring (Maria),
2009, watercolour and photocopy, 50,7 x 38 cm
© Courtesy of the artist and RECEPTION
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> DESCRIPTION

She never had sexual power over men, not even at seventeen.
So that’s one less thing to worry about getting older. But
still––there were men, then. Boys with bony bodies, broken,
punks. Boys she made write letters to her, and poems: She
did have power over words for the longest time. That this
ability should fade, retreat to a place inside to shine and
shimmer for nobody but herself, was not acceptable. Lately
in the park where she takes her daily walks she found herself
eavesdropping on women as if to stock up on language.
These women: organically grown in Southern California,
with every constitutional right to not know how much she
despised their healthy attitudes. How she still can’t help feeling
flattered when they mistake her for one of them, shyly
returning their friendly greetings which never extend to the
Latina walking right behind her. She muses over sentences
like: “She was against something—was it racism? I forgot.”
And for the rest of the walk she would try to come up with a
context.

At the party, later, when everyone was kissing everyone, he
suddenly came over and kissed her hard. Her! But immediately
realized his error. His tongue in her mouth: What an
exquisite feeling of misplacement. But he, being sort of an
actor with an uncanny intuition for how and where to leave
an emotional mark on other people, quickly came up with a
different plan: He rubbed her back, stroked her hair, spoke
to her in a low voice over ever-refilled caipirinha glasses
about guilt, and about letting go of it, and about not being
so hard on herself. It immediately hit the right spot and she
started to cry all the while watching the scene from the pool
table. He seemed to be happy with the result of his improvised
exorcism, like: Really happy, for her.

(One Sunday morning when she was a little girl her father
took her to the forest. They went deeper and deeper into the
woods, and the path grew narrower until ending in a thicket.
This is the end of the world, her father told her. Is it? She
wondered, filled with the grandeur of his words. In her mind,
she erected a flag on this very spot like the astronauts did
next to their lunar module.)

Earlier that evening they were playing a game: A poem by
Fernando Pessoa was to be read in Portuguese by everyone
around the table regardless of individual language skills.
When it was her turn, she read the first line, conscious of
her harsh accent, and panicked. She couldn’t go on, and
handed the book to her neighbor. While he stuttered his way
through the text, her pain intensified to the point where she
had to get up and leave the room. Outside, it was raining.
She ran away from the house, from this place where something
unspeakably violent was going on. She ran away from
the house.

(When she was a few years older, she became obsessed
with the camps. She practiced lying, and going by different
names, and suppressing the urge to sneeze in case she
ever found herself standing on the Appellplatz for hours
and hours. Or on a stage—for she was equally obsessed
with becoming a rock star. Years later her boyfriend used

to make fun of her, saying she didn’t have a concept of the
future, couldn’t plan ahead. Well, what did he know about
the delicate fabric of words and meanings that constitutes
the future. Someone can appear out of nowhere and call you
Sara and put you in a camp.)

Outside, it was still raining. Right in the middle of the
driveway, there was a frog. It didn’t move at all, it must have
been the king of frogs or a statue of the king of frogs. For
the longest time she sat there in the rain watching the frog,
motionless herself. Then she got up and walked back to the
house, back to the room where everyone was still stuttering
through poetry, and announced there was this unbelievably
huge frog outside and please would everyone come out to
see it. Please!


Annette Weisser, 2009

The End of the World is the title of Annette Weisser’s first
show at RECEPTION. Das Ende der Welt is also the popular name
for a trompe-l’oeil to be found in the gardens of Schwetzingen
Palace near Mannheim, where an ideal landscape apparently
lies behind an artfully painted hole in the wall. This
situation is recreated in miniature by a much more abstract
sculpture at the centre of Weisser’s show. A kind of experimental
configuration, the sculpture at once reinforces and
exposes the illusionist effect.
While the enormity of an actual end to the world defies our
powers of imagination, we have no trouble grasping the
show effects the sculpture employs – and lays bare at the
same time. It is this discrepancy between the unimaginable
situation denoted by the title and the easily seen-through
construction used to implement the linguistic image that
makes the work so fascinating.
The civilizatory power of language, with its ability both
to produce and annihilate meaning, is a central theme for
Annette Weisser, whose creative practice includes visual,
literary and theoretical productions in equal parts.
In recent years, Annette Weisser has primarily been concerned
with post-war German history, for instance with the
Allies’ political re-education programmes for the population
of West Germany. The fact that this historical research was
conducted mainly in California – a kind of outpost, so to
speak – altered the artist’s perspective on her native country.
Distance allowed her to place a different slant on seemingly
hackneyed questions about the burden of guilt inherited by

the post-war generations and the part this enduring public
debate plays on the formation of personal identity. Equally,
the responses of American friends and colleagues were different
from those in Germany. Combining synchronous with
diachronous approaches, these historical explorations intertwine
individual experience with official versions of history
and to some extent present the sub-text to Annette Weisser’s
show at RECEPTION.
The Good, The Bad and the Boring: The title belongs to women
from different eras and backgrounds who occupy the centre
of a series of works on paper combining collage and watercolour
techniques. Appearances are made by Antigone,
by Sophie Scholl along with Lena Stolze, the actress who
depicted Sophie Scholl, by Danièle Huillet in her role in
Not Reconciled, or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules, by
Joan Baez, or cartoon heroine Lisa Simpson, without whom
no contemplation of questions of morality and responsibility
would be complete. Since the individual titles include
only the women’s forenames, a certain amount of previous
knowledge comes in useful for matching the text (name) to
the picture (portrait) and deciphering the rest. Another play
on language, then, with names acting as a kind of trademark
that evoke certain associations.

Annette Weisser, born 1968 in Villingen, has lived in Los
Angeles since 2006. She teaches in the Graduate Fine Art
Department of the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.


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