When discussing art, I have always found the descriptive term "installation" to be annoyingly non-specific and over used. On occasion, however, I will find myself in search of a word to illustrate an exhibition and am left with no other choice than to describe it as such. Kathrin Sonntag's solo show is this occasion. Now on view at Galerie Kamm, the appropriately titled Double Take uses a soft-handed subtlety to orchestrate the reading of objects and photographs in a destabilizing relationship to each other, reality, time and space.
A photographic wallpaper depicting Sonntag's studio at a 1:1 ratio seamlessly consumes two adjacent walls in the gallery, while sculptural objects, including a bench and a plant, exist in both real time and recorded time represented in the image of her studio. The color palette of the photographic image is reductive, with whites and gray, washes of light gradients and only small spots of bright primary accents. Deliberately contrived to mimic the surrounding gallery space, this illusion brings the light quality within the image into focus. A sense of time is constructed, working with and against the natural light of the gallery and fluorescent bulbs from above, suddenly suspending you in a time and place of impenetrable irrationality that is both concrete and surreal.
In an adjoining room, the slide projection Blame it on Morandi plays in a continuous loop. The camera frames a progressive movement across the artist's studio in 180 degree increments. From one to the next, Sonntag has woven the images together through overlapping content, but she has strategically allowed them to be read as individual images. A doubling occurs within the frames, due in part to reflections, mirrors and repeating shapes, as well as externally, through the perpetual mental game of view and review that Sonntag has constructed. These devices lend themselves to an obscured logic and ambiguity at the very essence of perception.
So, while it is true that Sonntag's show is part photography, part sculpture, and part slideshow, the entities combine so that abstraction and reality coalesce into one, and I find myself saying, "You should really go see this installation."
~ Devon Caranicas, a writer living in Berlin.
(Images: Kathrin Sonntag; BLAME IT ON MORANDI, 2011, 81 slides, 27 motifs, Kodak-slidecarousel projection, sound, loop, size variable, detail; Exhibition View; Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Kamm)
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