Ain’t No Use @ crybaby

Lotta Bartoschewski, Olga Jakob, Dargelos Kersten, John Schulz, Erin Woodbrey

The exhibition Ain’t No Use presents a collection of works that engage with the question of utility – inverting the attributes of functionality and through modification or commentary relating to their surrounding environment. John Schulz’s woodcut print, strategies (repetition is a form of change) (2010) acts as the jumping-off point for the exhibition, taking on the role of a prologue. The arrows, which in the image stretch through the window into the room and circle back out, indicate a constant cycling through which – according to the subtitle– change is created. Ain’t No Use assumes this concept of exchange: The space, the works on show and the various perspectives of the viewers yield a system of reciprocal influence. Clearly, the exhibition space is not a white cube expressly conceived to display art, but rather an apartment that has been temporarily repurposed. What does this mean for the perception of the works? Does the room withdraw and cede itself to the artworks or does it assert its own function as a private living space? At first glance Erin Woodbrey’s Raum (2019) is reminiscent of a cable conduit: while the narrow line mostly follows the assumed cable channels along the skirting
board, near the window it appears that it was rerouted, perhaps to avoid a piece of furniture. Is a former state of the room visible here? Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that this work is not made of plastic, but rather porcelain rods in various lengths, attached to the wall with nails. The precious material, also called white gold, stands in stark contrast to the first presumption. What remains however, is the impression that it inscribes an imaginary room into the existing space. In its reduced formal language Raum is reserved and subtle, but nevertheless transformative to its environment. In Untitled (2019), Woodbrey hearkens back to industrially produced construction elements. Like a remnant or forgotten leftover, the drywall module leans against the wall of the space. Originally designed to contain a space, it is now functionless outside of itself and placed in the context of art. The object points to its environment and its own original unfulfilled function. Dargelos Kersten’s work Bench (2014) also plays with the attributes of function as well as with the associated behavior of visitors. If the bench is categorized as a piece of furniture, it invites you to have a seat. If it is perceived not as seating, but rather as an art object in the form of a bench, further considerations arise: to sit or not to sit? And particularly: does the rule of the art context apply, to maintain a certain distance from the work, or does the work adjust itself to the function of a bench, an object of utility? As if to push this game to its logical limits, in Bad-Silicon (2019) Kersten wholly nullifies the distinction between functional and art objects. This work, installed in the bathroom in-situ and integrated into its environment, fulfills its function as a waterproof seal. Simultaneously, its color sets itself apart from the rest of the silicone joints and refers to its special status as an artwork. The sculpture Breaking News (2019) by Lotta Bartoschewski engages with the most distinctive characteristic of the room, the rounded niche, which sparks thoughts about its possible original function. Pre-war apartments, built in an epoch that demanded different requirements from living space, often have such spaces whose original function and meaning are not immediately accessible. These residues are hints of another time and another way of living. The newspaper articles and ink integrated into the plaster of Breaking News produce a pattern that suggests that in their arrangement, some secrets of the room are perceptible. Olga Jakob’s textile work Kufi (2017) evokes an architectural frieze. The patterns that run the length of the fabric look like the marks from an ornament that no longer exists in its original form. While a frieze is meant to structure and decorate architecture, literally carved in stone into place, Kufi fundamentally differentiates itself from this role. The light fabric that can at any moment be removed, repositioned or placed somewhere entirely new, stands in stark contrast to the materiality and function of the architectural element that it references. In Jakob’s ohne Titel (2019), leftovers from posters taped to the wall form a wall drawing. The source material is nearly completely removed, only minimal remnants remain, becoming the origin point for new forms.

Text by Ferial Nadja Karrasch
Translation by Annelies Kamen

Lotta Bartoschewski, Breaking News, 2019, plaster, paper, ink, newspaper ink
Olga Jakob, Kufi, 2017, polyester, packing paper
Olga Jakob, ohne Titel, 2019, printed paper, tape
Dargelos Kersten. Bad-Silcon, 2019, silicone
Dargelos Kersten, Bench, 2014, artificial leather, metal
John Schulz, strategies (repetition is a form of change), 2010, woodcut print
Erin Woodbrey, Raum, 2019, porcelain, nails
Erin Woodbrey, Untitled, 2019, wood, drywall panels, wall paint

Organized by Samantha Bohatsch and Annelies Kamen