51 Days in June
Galerie Nordenhake is pleased to announce its second solo exhibition in Berlin with Swedish artist Christian Andersson. Using elements from the past as an anchor for his present production, Andersson explores questions of temporality, perception, visibility and representation.
Upon entering the gallery, a slight and seemingly misplaced scent is detectable. In Paper Clip (The Baghdad Batteries), 49 clay pots are filled with vinegar and rigged to an iron rod with copper wire. The contraption replicates what some believe to be an early electrochemical cell found in Baghdad, dating from the first centuries A.D. (substantially earlier than Volta’s documented invention around 1800). The combination of copper and iron with the vinegar’s slight acidity produces an electrical magnet, a positive charge manifest only in the paperclip clinging to the top of the contraption’s iron rod.
In The Sistine Chapel (B.C.), the corner of a glass table is broken off and rearranged as a method of display, presenting a torqued comic strip that can only be read in the reflection on the table’s surface. In the short scene, two cavemen puzzlingly liken clouds to the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. Temporal conflation and prehistory also play a role in a nearby photograph of colored flames burning like Molotov cocktails from chemistry bottles. In Untitled (Fire), a once indecipherable wonder has been translated into the familiar language of representation: the RGB color spectrum of electronic displays on televisions and computers. In his image, Andersson evokes ancient discoveries and modern man’s psychological and technical evolution, including color theory and color photography, a mode of representation that nears our perception of reality more effectively than its predecessors.
Opposite the gallery’s main entrance hangs an image depicting a black and white photograph framed in slightly damaged glass. The photograph shows a wrapped sculpture suspended in the air, apparently mid-installation. Beneath the blankets and ropes, invisible to the viewer’s eye, is Georg Kolbe’s Alba (Morgen or Dawn), a bronze sculpture that was included in Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. The Pavilion, erected as a reception hall for the grand opening and a transitory passage for visitors to the fair, was lavishly constructed from onyx, travertine, glass and a variety of marble. Although it was dismantled shortly after the close of the exhibition, the influential building was reconstructed in the mid-1980s in its original location, along with a replica of Kolbe’s sculpture. In Andersson’s image, the hairline crack in the glass and the futile effort to conceal it with a second layer visualize unforeseen difficulties, an idea gone wrong. The hovering and unidentifiable creation of a German sculptor working in the ‘30s marks a moment of limbo and underscores the temporal lag between the original Pavilion and its subsequent restaging.
The Barcelona Pavilion returns in the second gallery space with the installation are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era. Spanning the room is a photographic detail from the Pavilion’s onyx wall, a ready-made Rorschach test. The Pavilion’s temporal existence, prolonged by an unforeseen resurrection, is conjured by intervals of strobe flashes, backlighting the photograph and rendering unnoticed minutiae suddenly visible. The work’s palindrome title is both a complete sentence and a mirrored, incomplete fragment; it references the “era” of the 1930s (including the Barcelona Pavilion’s brief existence, the Weimar Republic’s decline and the rise of the Third Reich) while also posing a question that contains its own answer, reflected. The mixed temporalities occurring throughout 51 Days in June are literalized by the tricks and turns of are we not drawn onward’s title, the passage from past to present and back again.
Special thanks to Terje Östling for the technical engineering and execution of works in the exhibition.
Christian Andersson was born in 1973 in Stockholm, and currently lives and works in Malmö. Recent solo exhibitions include “Landings 2” at Landings, Vestfossen, Norway (2010), "Three Steps to Rockefeller" at Fondazione Brodbeck, Catania (2009), "I Did It Just the Same”, Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm (2008), Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon (2008), and "9 was 6 if", Studio A, Otterndorf (2005). Andersson has also participated in numerous group shows including the 1st Biennale for International Light Art, Ruhr (2010) and presentations at Centre d'art Passages, Troyes, France (2009), The Hessel Museum, New York (2009), Kunstverein Heidelberg, Germany (2007), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2006), Swiss Institute, New York (2005), Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2005). In 2011 he will present a major solo exhibition at Moderna Museet, Malmö.