KUBAPARIS ATELIER Hélène Padoux
Denise Werth @denise.wer
Where are you tonight?
Where are you tonight? - The title of Denise Werth's solo exhibition at Kunstverein Recklinghausen initially comes across as a clearly formulated and easily answered question. But depending on the context, whether friend, family member, acquaintance or stranger, the question of location can evoke different reactions and ambivalent feelings. This is illustrated by the song lyrics of Tom Johnston or Bob Dylan, from which Denise Werth has taken title of her exhibtion. Tom Johnston's song of the same name, which is part of the classic film Dirty Dancing (1987), begins with rhythmic clapping, gospel-like elements and continues with typical 80s disco sounds. Again and again the singer asks the question "Where are you tonight?" and makes it explicitly clear "I've got to know girl" - but is this a flattering expression of interest or male control wrapped in dancefloor disco sounds? Denise Werth works with these ambiguous chains of associations not only in the title of the exhibition, but in her entire artistic practice. All of her works contain tipping moments: At first look, one thinks it ist possible to classify them directly, as the artist confronts us with familiar images, everyday objects, or codes. But at second glance, it quickly becomes apparent that the works are ambiguous and demand a closer look. Thus, they could be compared to classical conundrum paintings, in which we see different things in one and the same motif. But while paintings require frontal viewing, sculptures always define their relationship to their surroundings and confront viewers with their own physical presence. Denise Werth's sculptures also invite viewers to be physically discovered, to approach them from different perspectives, and then to distance themselves again literally, to sort through the various associations and let them take their effect. In reference to representational strategies of past times, Denise Werth transports representative signs and methods from the outside into the interior: her sculpture Helmet meets us directly when entering the Kunstverein and appears like a monument in its size. At the same time, in its royal blue colorfulness and its way of being like an object, it seems like an oversized toy - and thus counteracts the sublime gesture. With Underboob I and II, we find stuccowork elements that actually have the structuring and decorative function of representative exterior facades or interiors now at viewer level in the exhibition space. Here, Denise Werth merges a classic architectural element and a contemporary fashion trend, the underboob neckline, which is particularly popular on platforms such as Instagram. On the upper floor, there is also a reference to representative buildings, as the artist integrates the shape of a Gothic window into her work at Buoyancy Aid II. As in the sacred space, contemplative views are possible - but only into a digital space, into white noise. Denise Werth's works also seem to react to the flood of images to which we are constantly exposed, since her objects cannot be classified on the basis of our everyday stock of images, but rather they demand an attentive look. Thus they are an invitation for a personal image search, an invitation to examine oneself again and again and to look closely.
Amelie Gappa @amelielouisegappa