Sasha Auerbakh – New Works
Hans-Sachs-Gasse 27/4, 1180, Vienna
27.05.22 – 24.06.22
Fridays, 12:00 – 15:00
Art history shows us how the female body has been persistently used for its eye-pleasing, ornamental qualities, when breasts, nipples and hair intertwined with flowers, fruit and drapery. The male body served this function mainly in the feminized, impotent form of a cherub, as in order for men to appear desirable they had to resemble the objects of beauty in our society – women. The idea that men are ugly has long denied straight women their desire and entrenched a division of male viewer/ female spectacle into our social norms. In “Ways of Seeing” John Berger asserts that “men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves”. I find it important and liberating to forget about myself, stop being seen and start looking – at men.
Ornament and rhythm are the key concepts around which the new works were developed. PILOT, not being a neutral white cube but an early 20th century bourgeois interior, richly decorated with wooden panels, carvings and wrought iron, demanded a specific approach. I decided to use the space as some sort of a page for a sentence, where sculptures follow the existing guidelines of the room, emphasizing its elements.
My formal decisions are largely based on the concept of Gottfried Semper (1803-1879), who studied totemic amulets and “body ornaments” in different cultures to build a cosmological model of adornments. In his essays and lectures on the formal principles of adornment and its symbolic meaning, Gottfried Semper interprets human artefacts as cosmological models of the world. According to its etymological definition, the greek word “kosmos” means both adornment and world order. Semper´s theory evolves around three elements (symmetry, proportion and direction) and describes three-dimensional man-made adornments (Schmuck) as frames or models of human position and movement in the world. The three structural categories of body ornament relate to the form of cosmic movement specific for each.
The Pendant (Behang) is an oscillating structure with a free end, according to Semper, a “macrocosmic” ornament which emphasises the cosmic law of gravity through its suspension. Directional Ornament (Richtungschmuck) accentuates the direction of movement displayed by “flying” or “static” ornaments, the first indicating speed and direction and the second indicating movement. The Ring is a “microcosmic” ornament, as it signifies the comparative relationships between different body parts and is also often used to signify social formations through its centrifugal shape.
In the new works, the function of the body shifts from being adorned to being ornamental itself, less a protagonist and more an equal element.
The “sentence” begins with the simple idea of taking a picture off the wall and merging it with its framing (“Martin C. 1”).
In “James P. 1” the pendants create a rhythm (1 – 2 – 3, big – middle – small).
“Sebastian D. 1” is a landscape that indicates the horizontal axis of the room. On the opposite wall, “Sebastian D. 2” accentuates its vertical direction. In “Sebastian D. 3 (Boje)” the multiple layers of paint and shadows on the male torso form a pattern, whilst the rubber garland shows direction. The sentence ends with a modernistic metal ornament on the other side of “Martin C.1”.