Haptic House – Review Elena Setzer
All images from Florian Oellers, Capturing Haptic House
curated by Penny Rafferty
Horse and Pony
A smiling sunflower, perforating a roughly-made ceramic tealight holder, informs us if somebody is at home. If it is shining, we are able to cross the threshold – “Welcome to Our Little Home” (2018). In the Haptic House, a space which proudly presents its layered traces of historical conversion, we encounter similar manifestations of occupying and customising, both familiar, and yet disconcerting.
Next to the entrance, Nuri Koerfer’s “Insel” (2017), a mouldy green two-seater sofa with a crocodile head invites us to lower down, to establish ourselves in this new environment. Immediately our desire awakes to touch the waxed and uneven surface of this little island we are embedded in, to palpate the ups and downs, curves and squiggles inch by inch. As Koerfer says, only through the act of physical exploration, the work gains visibility. Similar to a haptic feedback, multiple images are compiled and transmitted by the various sensations, somehow always withstanding a total capture.
Across the room, there is Claude Eigan’s partially coated desk (“After 6 protoform #8: C’s edition”, 2018), which evokes a similarly personalised topography. Valleys and hills of pigmented, melted plastic react to the physical working habits of its user – gallery owner Carrick. It is this triggering of a tactile and yet meandering gaze, the embrace of the unexpected encounter, the refreshing of the situationist practice of aimlessly roaming within a scaled down, intimate jungle – that the more than 30 works have in common. Zuzanna Czebatul’s wide-mesh iron gate (“Within Meadows and Rolling Fields”, 2016), forming different mudras according to the degree of the opening, mirrors the situation of entering this sensual landscape, fluctuating between interiority and exteriority, micro- and macro structures.
Layer after layer, in a process requiring both physical and mental dedication, Monika Grabuschnigg’s flesh-coloured, three-part work “What Shall I Swear By” (2018) has been built up over one year, investigating the field of love and desire under the contemporary condition. The surface of the rampant, foam-producing fountain and the two tall sculptures, reminiscent of totem stakes, range from larger, figurative reliefs over small pore-like notches to drop and smear formations. These glazed ceramic figures seem to be somehow membranous and permeable, transpiring and ejaculating at certain points. They do not only physically inhabit the space, but also fill it with countless associations and narratives. In an ongoing cycle of sucking in and spitting out, universal tropes, philosophical discourses, personal experiences and crew gossip flow together in the bubbling and foaming pool.
Individual and collective subjectivity, as well as private and public space are also blurred in GeoVanna Gonzalez’ site-specific installation “Keep down the blinds and fold” (feat. Monika Grabuschnigg, 2018). Located in the single restroom of the art space, it is shielded from the rest of the exhibition and bathed in dreamy blue light. The visitor experiences an intimate rendezvous with different practices of commemoration, somewhere between fandom, fictionalised memoirs and animism. Similar to a seance, the absent other is evoked and envisioned through and within a medium, just as Lil Peep’s spectre who, wandering through numerous channels, seems to posthumously speak to his fans. (“Whenever I listen to Lil Peep it makes me feel like he is still here and I know everyone who loves Lil Peep will feel the same”, Comment on the posthumous released track “4 Gold Chains” feat. Clams Casino).
Taking the trapdoor to the basement, you can witness the apparition of another undead bedroom producer in this crypt-like space . More of Nuri Koerfer’s chimeric armchairs, arranged in a semi-circle, encourage you to join and take in Kathy Acker’s video “Blue Tapes” (1972, together with Alan Sondheim). The work was shot in the bedroom of her lover and collaborator Alan Sondheim, three weeks after their first encounter in New York. With its dialogical intro- and extrospection, expressing the fear of losing oneself in another, and Acker’s manual scanning of her entire body, the video rather stimulates a comparative view, shifting and drifting from the screen to one’s own context. Focusing on the embodied ‘being here with’, the separation between the self and the other seems to be similarly liquefied, such that the waxed armchair feels like an extension of one’s own skin.
The artist-curator Penny Rafferty joyfully compares the exhibition with a ghostly “dinner party” bringing “multiple crushes” under one roof: A gathering of artworks which do not hide their numerous (love) affairs and encounters with other works, feeding their own particular form. The paradoxical figure of the ghost (neither absent nor present) causes a historical and ontological rupture, in which the concept of the definable present and the subject is shaken. Instead, a relational space unfolds, in which seemingly past phenomena mingle among the present, predicting a future through the mode of recurrence. The fixed, temporal and subject categories melt simultaneously, as do the candles in Jake Kent’s three riddled ceramic ‘calendars’ (“2017, 2018, 2019”, 2018). They clump and contract time according to their own materiality. A particularly playful incorporation of (sub)cultural sources and varying degrees of reality is anticipated in Kent’s little ceramic figures – a cowboy and a pig-like police officer (“All Plod is Twat”, 2018), both provisionally repaired by tape and fabric scraps. These apparently worn-out toys are designed as prototypes for a future puppet show, blending the characters of a popular kids series from the 1940s with the narrative of Russell Hoban’s dystopian novel Riddley Walker (1980) and the disappearing Kentish dialect.
Such hauntological overlaps are multiplied in Haptic House as the presented works do not only mix and archive their own polyamorous relationships, but mutually visit each other, leading to an ongoing process of shape-shifting – and to an “orgy of eyes” for the hosted visitor, as Rafferty hopes. Cut-outs and grid-like formations make space to absorb their neighbours in greedy vampiric kisses, such as Jonas Schoeneberg’s sliced painting “N0 Horizon” (2018), or the two scratched DIY armours by the collective Leckhaus, which stand guard over the space. On the opening night, the two designers filled the gaps with their own flesh and patrolled as (fashion) “Polizia” (2018) through the mass of peers.
“All Plod is Twat” (Jake Kent, 2018).
Haptic House runs through June 10, so make sure to stop by at HorseandPony to see the show and join the finissage this Sunday from 6-9pm.