Purple Art

[October 31 2016]

Anna-Sophie Berger “Places to fight and to make up” at Mumok, Vienna

Two massive opposing parabolic concrete mirrors were taken from a nearby playground to the Museum of Modern Art Vienna (MUMOK), ”…and sadly nobody was there to defend them.”

With a shrug and smile the artist Anna Sophie Berger remarks that her sentiment may sound absurd, given that it was her, who chose to relocate the very concrete pair, making them the center piece of her current solo exhibition “Places to fight and make up.”

The aspiring artist was just awarded with the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize – a collaboration between the Kapsch Group and the Museum Moderner Kunst Vienna (MUMOK) – aimed at young artists that live and work mainly in Vienna.

The visitors who are willing to spend their time to read through Berger’s exhibition catalogue “Manual”, might get a glimpse of what Anna Sophie is thinking about, as she comments her feeling towards objects, their relocation and transformation through time:

“What one connects with a place is time, I always think and while I often hesitate to say I love a place, I can say that I spent time with it and that cannot be reversed. When things change, past time is materialized. Leaving a place for me comes with a notion of fear, the potential to return later to a changed environment that meanwhile became unfamiliar.”

“Manual” is a potpourri of screenshots, photos, Instagram feed and texts by and about the artist, her current exhibition and retrospectively about her general oeuvre. Her words do indeed explain her work, but much rather contextualize it with her thoughts and emotions. They offer an intimate glimpse into what drives and interests her.

Berger says that objects and people hold various capacities, which are sensitive to the environment they are in; some are activated in some places, some will be in others. She meticulously investigates this change.The principal purpose of the two concrete parabolic mirrors is to amplify, bundle and transmit sound (like a laser) from one mirror to the other. Thus a person can talk into one mirror and, even though, the other mirror might be placed within a 30-40 meters distance, the conversation partner may place his/her ear in the center of the other mirror, understand and reply.

While the piece could be interpreted as a metaphor for the current dialectic between isolation and the abundant tendencies of communication, Berger seems to be chary of giving too many precise instructions of how to read her work. She writes: “The semiotic threshold is a powerful trap over which I jump back and forth, alternately escaping and enjoying ambiguity”.

There is some fresh graffiti on the concrete mirrors, that are usually cleaned by the municipality once a year. Nearby, a couple of traditional Austrian “Heuriger” benches were halved. A fragile jester is paper weighed by a marzipan pig, wine bottles and other sweet/salty/heavy treats. An innocent pea (“Pea earring”, 2015) is held by creepy, tiny silver claws, is stuck in the middle of the big white neon-lit museum wall. The surface of two Paper works (“choicest relict 1 & 2″, 2016) was slightly roughed and abstracted through water stains, caused by the touch of a wet coat.

The exhibition “Places to fight and make up” is on view until January 29, 2017 at Mumok, Museumsplatz 1, Vienna.

Photo and text Philipp Draxler

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