press release

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present the group show PUNCHING THROUGH THE CLOUDS with Martin Boyce, Bernhard Prinz, and Florian Slotawa, curated by Anna-Catharina Gebbers.

As sculptors and as photographers, Martin Boyce, Bernhard Prinz, and Florian Slotawa are among the most important artists of their generation in Europe. The current exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is the first comprehensive US show to present these artists with their combined sculptural and photographic oeuvres. Here, sculpture and photography are interlinked in a variety of ways. Another common feature of these three artists’ work is their use of furniture and everyday objects as material for their sculptures. Allusions and direct references to design and art-historical themes and epochs as well as genre-specific reflections are here combined into subtle commentaries on the present.

The furniture, design objects, and pieces of clothing used in the sculptures and photographs are playfully stripped of their functionality; their aesthetic formal vocabulary is transformed. The result are vexing objects and pictures that question both critically and conceptually the utopias informing modernity: a faith in the social impact of applied artistic design and social progress. Through subversive interventions, connotations are altered, and fragmented, imaginary landscapes are formed that seem to point less to the high-flying optimism of modernism than to an increasingly reflective stance following the collapse of ideals.

PUNCHING THROUGH THE CLOUDS is a quotation from Mies van der Rohe, and also the title of a work by Martin Boyce shown in the exhibition. Here, Mies’ lyrical description of skyscrapers and the power of multi-media representation indexes the ephemeral and the ostensible, as well as his virtuosic use of a whole range of media to visualize his ideas. The curator Anna-Catharina Gebbers thematizes here, as she did in the group show “Über den Himmel” (Hamburg, 2004, with Oliver Boberg, Felix Gonzalez Torres, and Bernhard Prinz) the relationship between form and material, presence and transience, as well as the link between the structure and representation of reality in sculpture and photography.

The sculptures, photographs, texts, and wall works by Martin Boyce explore the narrative potential of seemingly familiar, anonymous urban landscapes. Boyce distils elements from the visual languages of modern design, film, or architecture. Playing with polar opposites such as familiarity and distance, inside and outside, or harmony and tension, he creates in his minimalist installations a complex structure of imagined cultural and social spaces, addressing the intangible fear, paranoia, and dysfunctionality of contemporary urban life, at the same time producing an almost nostalgic dissociation. In doing so, Boyce nearly provides hints that allow the beholder to generate his or her own ideas and spaces. The phrase “Punching Through the Clouds” is attributed to Mies van der Rohe and is presented on four Ventilation Grills shown in the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. As a poetic description, of the soaring optimism, of the glass tower this work is dedicated to the skyscraper now that that form has been forever contaminated.

The photographs and sculptures by Bernhard Prinz create a very specific ambiguity. His photographic images play enthusiastically with the camera’s ability to deceive and capture the fleeting nature of the made and the momentary. They question the shaping of vision since the institutionalization of central perspective as well as the belief in the documentary power of a photographic representation as a proof of veracity. What is demonstrated is the ability of photographs to show the presence of something that at the moment of beholding the picture is actually already past, or indeed never existed in the first place in the way it appears. Prinz’s use of less ‘classical’ sculptural materials such as fabrics, articles of clothing, everyday objects, and pieces of furniture, lends his installations and the objects in his photographs the character of ephemeral sculptures; the white that dominates the works chosen for the show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery also creates an atmosphere of innocence, which is then disrupted by subliminal signs of violence and decay.

The works by Florian Slotawa explore the significance of collecting, ordering, and the use value of things, and they mostly include things the artist finds at those places where he works or lives: hotel furniture, museum displays, objects belonging to the gallerist, and above all his own personal possessions. Even while still a student in 1996, he moved with his entire household possessions into a studio at the art academy for two month, during which time he photographed everything, and then moved away from the city with his things. Often the photographs are the only proof of these spatial interventions. For the show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery Slotawa used the global network of an international furniture manufacturer: He builds a high-rise-like sculpture with furnitures, that were ordered from the IKEA store on Long Island. Using an identical order list, identical sculptures will be built in two further exhibition venues in Europe and Asia.

PUNCHING THROUGH THE CLOUDS with Martin Boyce, Bernhard Prinz, and Florian Slotawa curated by Anna-Catharina Gebbers


kuratiert von Anna-Catharina Gebbers

mit Martin Boyce, Bernhard Prinz, Florian Slotawa