Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin
artists & participants
With the group exhibition THEM, the Schinkel Pavillon becomes a stage for the unfolding drama of the human body. Alina Szapocznikow's sculptural works from the 1960s and '70s have garnered international attention in recent years. At the heart of the exhibition at the Schinkel Pavillon, Szapocznikow's works occupy a fascinating sculptural language: one based on the human form and at times the violent struggles of physicality. Her works speak to the organic deterioration of form and problematised anatomical constructions of identity.
As a child, the artist survived the concentration camps of the Third Reich. Marked by the struggle for physical survival, her sculptural objects function almost as an attempt to externalise the body—expelling the organic in favour of a stylised artificiality. Her sculptures of breasts and tumours are both simultaneously as much objects of desire as they are embodiments of sickness. These fetishised sculptures of the body toy with the senses of the viewer, where affect becomes sculpturally programatic—highlighting gender, desire, and repulsion.
In a very special, all-encompassing exhibition architecture in the form of an amoeba that oozes through the Schinkel Pavillon, the exhibition THEM brings Szapocznikow's work together with the work of six exciting woman artists from different generations that each address the perception of the physical and its redefinition by a negotiation with the digital world in their own way.
The film documentation, for example, of pioneering feminist artist Carolee Schneemann's seminal work, Meat Joy, from 1964, explores the body through live performance in way that is both ritualised and spontaneous, with equal parts of erotic and repulsive. Sarah Lucas's works are associative and surreal sculptures using Nylon tights to create amorphous female nudes that transform the abject into a study of the sculptural possibilities of the sexual body.
These iconic works are accompanied by sculptural works from a younger generation of female artists, such as Alisa Baremboym's striking composites of ceramic, resin and vinyl that seem strangely human and plastic at once. Anicka Yi's work explores and challenges the traditions of sculpture through unconventional and often unstable materials. Katja Novitskova explores the psychology of flatness through her high-definition, larger-than-life depiction of nature, while Aleksandra Domanovic's 3-D printed sculptures of arms protruding from the wall negotiate a difficult terrain by combining a strong presence of technology to create familiar gestures on a human scale.
Together with Szapocznikow's explorations of the physical, the works of these artists all represent a unique sensibility towards materiality and its allegorical potential, while also expressing a challenging and ardently feminist narrative.
The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Hauptstadt Kulturfonds, Polnisches Institut Berlin, Andrea Rosen Gallery New York, and Loevenbruck Paris.