Review: Crying Horses – Hadas Auerbach, Xenia Bond, José Montealegre at Husslehof

White horse, black horse, red horse

by Marie Oucherif

The image traverses the boundaries of the real. For one, it tampers with the visible by introducing a metaphysical dimension, which can delude the seen towards a metaphorical moment.

Three horseheads occupy the walls and what appears to be streams of tears run across the floor, meeting at a point, and dictate the viewer’s steps with their meanders between empty space and the horseheads; minus the lachrymal streams, Husselhof’s white cube resembles a sort of equestrian décor one may find in a French farmhouse. In the midst of the work, which comprises at least two elements, one, an intuitive, fluid one, and two, a more reconciled, bodily and separate, I remember a wistful episode in Louis Aragon’s Le Paysan de Paris; its narrator, looking at a shop window of walking sticks, dwells in a figment of an oceanic world, and envisages the wooden rods-cum-handles in undulation; wherein my conception of Crying Horses oscillates between the real and the metaphorical.

The starting point for what appears to represent bodily fluids produced by the effects of ‘crying’ remains uncertain. Retracing of the gooey “tears” can take place towards various loci: the horses’ heads (the locale of their glazed eyes and muzzles); where the individual streams seem to terminate; or the point where they all meet. The dynamic(s) between the three horse-heads is/are translated through this very mise-en-scène of tracing. Stratification of the metaphysical and the metaphorical occurs, and hints to a kind of play, which bears influences that are emotive—and by extension—cultural.

In Frankfurt am Main, alternative spaces or non-commercial venues for exhibitions are but a few. Often run collectively by artists or otherwise, they provide public stages for experimentation and opportunities to show. Husslehof was founded in 2013 and is run by Felix Große-Lohmann, and though it stands amongst the more institutionalized spaces, is one of the few that still regards the art exhibition as a platform for experimentation. Crying Horses by Hadas Auerbach, Xenia Bond and José Montealegre exemplifies this environment, a stable for international residents of Germany’s financial capital.

An image of a horse with milk around its mouth, from Mike Kelley’s 1992 exhibition “Alma Pater (Wolverine Den)” at Portikus (Frankfurt’s premier, school-affiliated institution for contemporary art), is said to have provided the starting point for this artistic collaboration; to say nothing of the allusions of Kelley’s exhibition to American educational complex that is rife with masculine aesthetics—and athletics. If the reference strikes as heavy-handed, it does so with the wink of an eye, or a wince of an eye, depending on who stands where.

Whether the horseheads, or the fluids for that matter, originate in an image from Mike Kelley’s first solo exhibition in Europe, which took place nearly three decades ago in Frankfurt, is irrelevant to what’s on view at Husslehof, as the show is devoid of any clear indication, a nod—or two or three, what with the deadly-still horseheads— to any other than its own presence in the making.

Metaphorical and –physical cruces allow themselves to merge with intimate musings – white horse, black horse and red horse as proxies of the artists, the group as a proxy of a team of a Clydesdale, a Shetland and a thoroughbred.

Translated from the English by Dan Kwon.

Crying Horses
Hadas Auerbach, Xenia Bond, José Montealegre
Husslehof, Koblenzer Straße 12, 60327 Frankfurt am Main
11.05 – 24.05.2019

Current exhibition at Husslehof:
Cudelice Brazelton „SCABBARD”
15.06.19 – 19.07.19

Open by appointment only

Koblenzer Straße 12
60327 Frankfurt a.M.