A Plot of Undiscovered Ground
April 27 – June 22, 2019
Opening: April 26, 2019 | 7–9pm
Artist Talk: 11 May 2019, 4pm | Ludwig Engel in conversation with Natalia Stachon
Two or three times a day she walked in and out of all the hotels on the Strip and several downtown. She began to crave the physical flash of walking in and out of places, the temperature shock, the hot wind blowing outside, the heavy frigid air inside. She thought about nothing. Her mind was a blank tape, imprinted daily with snatches of things overheard (…).*
The American journalist and author Joan Didion (born in 1934) wrote these lines in her 1970 novel "Play It As It Lays". Didion‘s language is like a precisely calibrated gauge: clear, unaffected, direct, unsentimental. Through it, she succeeds in uncovering and investigating the ambivalences and quarrels of her characters in the deep knowledge that the constitution of her characters is under the complex influence of an ever-changing society. In the quoted text Maria, an actress from Hollywood, walks across the Las Vegas Strip. She is on a threshold in her life. She wanders about weakly, from one public building to the next, driving endlessly along the highways, looking for a connection in this supposedly functioning, man-made backdrop.
This text is the atmospheric starting point for the new series of drawings "Visions and Revisions" (2018/19) by Natalia Stachon. The protagonist here is society itself, in a state of flux, in which old orders are broken and new ones are written in a state of frenzy. In this work, too, an external, almost uncanny gauge seems to be at work, ruthlessly and analytically. Perhaps a machine that scans these spaces seemingly incoherently, regardless of their location. But they have one thing in common: society is negotiated in these places. They are academies, parliaments, town halls, universities, schools, theatres, and museums. The drawings record current states. Like test strips, they illustrate the activity, friction, and intensity that arise in these spaces in a state of phase change and in search of a new order. What will a reorganization look like? There seems to be no adequate answer to this question at present. However, the group of works "Visions and Revision" tries to trace a trajectory. Thus the artist uses a classical medium, namely drawing, and links it with the technocratic machine view of a machine, in the conviction that a successful reordering can only ever come about by bringing together the traditional and the new.
The exhibition also features the new neon installation "A Plot of Undiscovered Ground" (2019), which gives the exhibition its title, and a series of objects entitled "Moments in Never" (2019). The arrangement seems like the backdrop for a rally or a mysterious meeting in one of the foyers or rooms that also exist in the artist‘s drawings. On the walls hang transparent objects that look like loudspeakers, rows of metal stands connected with neon tubes, reminiscent of signage systems. This strange order follows its own logic, characterized by reflections, symmetry, and repetitions. The minimalist formal language that is characteristic of most of the artist‘s works generates an atmosphere of supposed emptiness and silence. But Natalia Stachon creates an ambivalent place of transition here, for in this apparent tranquility, the question of where to go echoes even more urgently, and the need for further action seems even more inevitable.
Natalia Stachon (born in 1976) lives and works in Berlin. Her works are currently on view at ZKM - Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe, Daimler Art Collection, Berlin and Reinbeckhallen, Berlin. They have been exhibited in, among other places: Kunstraum Alexander Bürkle, Freiburg (2017/2015/2014); Kunsthalle Göppingen (2016); BWA Contemporary, Katowice (2015); n.b.k. Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2015); Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt (2014); Museo Santa Giulia, Brescia (2013); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2013). Her works are part of important national and international collections such as: Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; Kupferstich-Kabinett, Berlin; ZKM, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe; Daimler Kunstsammlung; Berlin/Stuttgart; Menil Collection, Houston.
* Joan Didion, Play it as it lays, 1998, New York, pp. 169-170