The way in
Curated by Panos Fourtoulakis and Titus Nouwens
26/11/2021 – 08/01/2022
Thursday - Saturday, 5-8pm, and by appointment
Sometimes going to the grocery store makes me feel less alone. Sometimes I’m trying to tell someone about this new opening in my life, and I end up feeling closed. When I say opening, I mean the possibility that when Ι feel I won’t feel like I shouldn’t feel. My body in a room with other bodies feeling me feeling my body. When I say this room I mean you. When I say you I mean make room.
On a good day, I write in sentences. On a bad day I write in thoughts. You know when you’re dreaming, and past and present blend together in a way that makes it feel like maybe you can imagine a future? And then you wake up. Dreaming is not quite escape, not quite thinking, not quite feeling, or is it? Because sometimes I feel so much more hopeful when I’m asleep, like this day when everything changes, I mean once I wake up, or maybe I’m already awake, but not quite, because it’s that possibility of living in two times or experiences at once, but in the same body, the one that lets me down as soon as I get out of bed.
– Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, The Freezer Door, 2020
The way in brings together new and existing works by Leah Clements, Christian Friedrich, Aaron Ratajczyk and Iris Touliatou. Video, sound and sculptural installations respond to the architecture of Haus N, proposing an existential exploration of being.
The starting point of this exhibition stems from the recent past - a time when our collective experience of time itself felt different, when the relationships between ourselves and our bodies, our surroundings and others were renegotiated, and when the exploration of interiority, embodied presence, and the desire to connect felt like shared concerns.
We have been working closely with each of the invited artists to develop a scenography that welcomes the viewer into an interior space of memory, feeling and desire. The presented installations make public and palpable elements that are highly intimate and intangible. It is through a specific organisation of space and time that the works move between introversion and entanglement, to convey a sense of containment and opening up.
The continuous tension between the (interior) self and the (exterior) world, notions of control and overpowering, pleasure and pain, finds a bodily address in Christian Friedrich’s silent film Untitled, 2010-11. Alternating shots of a billowing American flag and a man in a cage being repeatedly electro-shocked create unlikely correspondences with the rhythmic insertion of all kinds of other imagery: a jetting fountain, a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, jellyfish, birds, toes and foot fetishism and much more. As the film’s fifteen minutes accumulate and the editing accelerates, images appear to superimpose, creating their own cryptic logic. What has seemed at first a statement about abuse of power, may be revealed as a formal structure of endlessly suspended oppositions. The more time passes, the more is revealed, the more is suggested, the more you seek to make sense of it and, finally, the less you know.
Leah Clements explores altered experiences of space and time through a light and sound sequence titled Reprise/Reprieve. The work has grown out of Clements’ text-based video installation The Siren of the Deep presented at Eastside Projects earlier this year, which takes its name from a term used by diving communities to describe an overwhelming pull to stay on the bottom of the ocean in a state of awe and never come back up. Developed through a more experiential and somatic approach, Reprise/Reprieve uses deep bass sound, warm lights and an installation reminiscent of an abandoned medical experiment. The sequence causes a gradual build up and sudden release of tension at set intervals in the gallery.
Aaron Ratajczyk’s installation is composed of two new works, Home Ressemblances, a tent-like structure made of semi-transparent plastic, and Remote Ressemblances, a floor made of flattened cardboard boxes connected to speakers through contact mics. Found on the streets of Athens and at local convenience stores, these materials served as packaging of products from around the world. Viewers are invited to enter Ratajczyk’s open yet contained environment, generating sounds as they walk through. Associating Home Ressemblances with Remote Ressemblances, Ratajczyk explores notions of presence and its mediation, isolation and connection, intimacy and belonging. In this interactive work, togetherness becomes both intimate and alienating.
Iris Touliatou’s contribution, What we had expected and for how long, is a new work developed through a relational exchange between herself and us (the curators). While being abroad, the artist entrusted us with the keys of her house/studio so we could extract items of our choosing. As a result, Haus N is punctuated with objects from the artist’s home – shelves and drawers (support structures meant to hold personal items), a printer, a fan, all of her bedlinen and her 2016-piece, Exhausted Lovers – a carefully contained breakup, comprised of ink and paper extracts distilled from printed matter and kept in separate perspex tubes. Through continuous negotiations and the act of making public, the work engages proximity and distance, agency and co-dependence, control and letting go.
Photographer: Stathis Mamalakis
Leah Clements has made a short film of her work Reprise/Reprieve, for anyone who is unable to attend the exhibition The way in for disability, economic, or other access reasons. Below are versions of the film including one with audio descriptions and one with captions. A note: there aren't exactly flashing images but there is a flickering in some of the shots. Proceed with caution if needed.
About the artists:
Leah Clements’ (b. 1989, based in London) practice spans film, photography, performance, writing, installation, and other media. Her work is concerned with the relationship between the psychological, emotional, and physical, often through personal accounts of unusual or hard-to-articulate experiences. Her practice also focuses on sickness/cripness/disability in art, in critical and practical ways. Clements is currently artist in residence at Serpentine Galleries and has previously been artist in residence at Wysing Arts Centre and Rupert. She has presented her work at Chisenhale Gallery, Somerset House Studios, Science Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art, Jupiter Woods and Wellcome Collection, London; Baltic39, Newcastle; Vermilion Sands, Copenhagen; The National Gallery of Art, Vilnius; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; La Casa Encendida, Madrid. www.leahclements.com
Ιris Touliatou (b. 1981, based in Athens) engages in a conceptual practice, which transposes the political, environmental and affective, and employs various mediums necessary for each intervention. Manifesting in sculpture, photography, sound, scent and text, her work creates open forms and shared experiences, to comment on time, intimacy, transience, mortality, economies and states of being. Ιris Touliatou has exhibited work at 2021 New Museum Triennial, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; The 7th Athens Biennale, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art and Radio Athènes, Athens, among others. www.iristouliatou.com
Christian Friedrich (b. 1977, based in Amsterdam and Berlin) investigates the condition, structure and manipulation of subject-object relationships through a variety of media, including video, sculpture, audio and scent. His work frequently employs elements of the sexually outré, played against formalism, aestheticism, and structural contradiction. Friedrich’s work has been shown, among others, at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, PS120, Berlin; Cabinet Gallery, London; NYU, New York; Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen; Grazer Kunstverein, Graz; De Hallen, Haarlem; Goethe-Institut, De Appel, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Städtische Galerie am ZKM, Karlsruhe. In 2017, Friedrich was the recipient of the Cobra Art Prize, in 2013 he was nominated for the Prix de Rome.
Aaron Ratajczyk’s (b. 1989, based in London and Berlin) practice explores modes of intimacy and dis-identification, treating the body as a malleable interface. Often expressed through non-verbal affects – mood, atmosphere and poetics – his work takes the form of video, performance, text and installation. His work has been presented at Museum of Modern Art and KEM, Warsaw; Tree Art Museum, Beijing; RCA CCA in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary; Yvonne Lambert, Berlin; Forum for Live Art Amsterdam. Forthcoming projects include group exhibitions at Goldsmiths CCA and South London Gallery (as part of New Contemporaries) and a solo commission by Institute of Contemporary Art, London. www.aaronratajczyk.com