"The gallery floor is ‘tiled’ with defunct LCD monitors. They serve as a kind of ‘stepping stone’ floor which the viewer is invited/provoked to negotiate in order to approach the remarkable photographs. It is a radical intervention into both the built environment and the world: the floor/the ground/earth.
This old digital enclosure (stomping ground) of Geissler/Sann’s is like a burned out star; it no longer emits light, no longer stores and shares the indices by which we’ve come to know our perverse menagerie. They adorn the walls, having retreated into a more ancient - and stable - medium (photography). Thus the animal as figure, embedded in its own flat earth, looks blindly out onto another flat earth, one constructed of prone, vacant screens. Our spirit animals are both evicted from this blighted preserve but also rescued from it. They step back in time in an effort at self-preservation. (They stole the last life-raft.) Theirs is a conservative fate which rescues while yielding them past, overcome. Here all is lost, the silly wonders of technological progress – which drive us more than ever, and ever more cruelly – as well as the delusion of a resilient Nature. Nothing survives here, save some astonishingly beautiful, brutal and negating art. Which is more than we have any right to ask for."
–Excerpts from an essay by Doug Ischar that accompanies the exhibition
Geissler and Sann’s exhibition will be comprised of recent photographs and a floor installation of defunct computer screens in a darkened, curtained installation.
Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann have been active as a collaborative partnership since 1996. Their work concentrates on inner alliances of knowledge and power, their deep links in western culture and the escalation in and transformation of human beings through technology. Geissler/Sann’s artistic research utilizes a variety of forms of visualization: these include photography, video, installation, games, performances, internet-based work and books. On the threshold dividing document from created reality, on the border between factual occurrence and fictional bringing-into-being, their work scrutinizes the inherent idiosyncrasies of media. Within the collaborative space of an artist duo and interdisciplinary research, the artists’ work spans science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, political science and contemporary art.
Geissler and Sann were born in Germany and live and work in Chicago. Beate Geissler received an MFA from the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Oliver Sann received his MFA from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany. Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and alternative spaces including The Renaissance Society, Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, the NGBK (New Society for Visual Arts) Berlin, the Fotomuseum Antwerp, Museum Ludwig, Köln and the Fotomuseum Winthertur in Switzerland. Geissler/Sann have been the recipients of a number of prestigious grants and awards: the Videonale Award, Museum of Art, Bonn, Germany; Herman-Claasen-Award Cologne, Germany; the Dean’s Research Prize, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Chicago, and more recently, grants from the Elisabeth Cheney Foundation and the Graham Foundation, Chicago. Currently, Geissler is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Sann is Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago.
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