On liminality and other alluring places. Andréas Lang and Cristiana Palandri
Nico Anklam, text on the exhibition at Podbielski Contemporary gallery, Berlin 2012
The new show at Podbielski Contemporary brings together for the first time photographic works of Andréas Lang and sculptures of Italian plastic and performance artist Cristiana Palandri. The concept of liminality developed by British social anthropologists from the work of Arnold van Gennep, is the point of departure for this show – its defining moments of transition and interim space become manifest here as spatial and temporary thresholds.
Both Palandri and Lang have broached the issue of interim space in their works. Palandri replicates border zones that function as thresholds, such as in her new work “Farmakon” (2011). Palandri shows a photographic positive in a white wooden medicine cabinet dating from the turn of the century. A photograph of the Berlin sky at night, taken during the period she spent in her studio at Stadtbad Wedding (public baths turned into a cultural site), is reflected by a mirror – and thus infinitely reproduced. The open door as a tentative invitation to the threshold into another world allows for an unobstructed view of stellar traces of light in the photograph and at the same time allows for localisation within a wider cosmic order of things. Palandri thus creates not only an aperture but also a frame for a photographic representation, evoking the idea of the image as a window and a gate to the world.
There is a link between Palandri’s “Farmakon” and Andréas Lang’s colour photograph “In Kastilien” (In Castile), of 2009. The latter portrays a dreary, suburban house front painted in shades of grey and with several locked windows and doors. The observer stands on a zebra-crossing that ends right in front of the house. Instead of blinds or a door we can see a sheet or a towel – depicting a surreal, light blue winter landscape. The function of the cloth, sunblind or curtain, remains ambiguous. “In Kastilien” duplicates the idea of the frame as a window to the world in an excellent manner, when the otherwise plain house wall becomes a bluish, cool and snow-covered landscape complete with a belling deer that does not seem to correspond at all with the initial reality of the image. In his works “In Kastilien”, “Wartezimmer” (waiting room) and “Jungle, USA” Andréas Lang traces down, with infallible accuracy, those liminal places where suddenly and unexpectedly an interim space opens up within the photographic reality. In the work “Jungle“, USA 2007, we are confronted with a post- or pre-civilian landscape composed of green and yellow plants, from which all traces of human existence seem to have been eradicated – only the existence of the photograph itself reminds us that somebody must have been there.
Cristiana Palandri, on the other hand, succeeds in creating new spaces of transition inside her objects that exist in our – rather than the photographic reality. Her work “Mimesi” (2012) shows that we can also understand them as architectonic studies of disintegration and transformation. Black cubes as big as fists break open from the inside and sprout organic material. Hair and feathers allude to that moment of transition that we have missed in Lang’s photograph “Jungle“ but whose reverberating echo we still seem able to hear. The interim space, as well as the idea of interim space, is presented as a desirable place, as the title of the exhibition suggests.
A great deal of its attraction is generated precisely through the paradox of its remaining out of reach, its lingering in the past or its not having arrived yet. All works in the show “On liminality and other alluring places” share an absence of human beings, which encompasses a certain temptation; whether in Lang’s jungle or in Palandri’s “Farmakon”, we all wish to make those places of transition accessible for us and fill them with our own presence.
Andréas Lang’s photographs were last shown in Berlin at the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum), in the exhibition “Die Deutschen und der Wald“ (The
Germans and the Forest) and in “Menschen, Orte, Zeiten – Das XX. Jahrhundert“ (Men, Places, Time – the 20th Century). Cristiana Palandri’s sculptures featured in the group show “Time and Material“ at Horton Contemporary.
The exhibition “On liminality and other alluring places” was conceived by curator, art historian Nico Anklam.