Anna Virnich 'Mutti raucht wieder'
Mutti is smoking again. Because it's over, finished, because she has children or none, because nothing more can be done, no? Mutti thinks about her life, the lives of others who came before her, who may no longer come after her. She thinks about touch, intimacy, companionship, pain, traces memories that have inscribed themselves in her body. Things that happened when she was 4 or 12, the adults, the dead, movie images, scraps of literature, hair bands, music, clothes, the smell of bed linen, ocean, a ray of sunlight falling into the room. She thinks of the futures she can't yet grasp, or imagine. "Just now, when it's no longer your business, when everything seems to be over, every thing and every place emerges in its truest form, they somehow touch you closer - as they are: Splendor and misery," wrote Giorgio Agamben in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. In her current exhibition, Anna Virnich addresses the heightened sensibility of the post-Corona era, the feeling of seeing more clearly, of being touched, but also connected with this "too late," with overtaxing, weariness. In Mutti raucht wieder we probably see her finest, most sculptural works to date, moving further and further away from the notion that what she is doing is "stitched painting," a response to postwar abstraction or color field painting. In them, an almost hysterical, decadent sensibility and nostalgia, an edgy unease with the present, coincides with materialist thinking, with an interest in material. Gauge Your Fears (2023), for instance, features a weave of stained chlorinated satin on a milky latex square. The embroidery flowers - callas - look like atomic mushrooms growing on pudding skin. Virnich's practice combines the touch of kink and camp with the canon and aesthetics of post-minimal and post-human thought. Her works ask us to discard our old stories, our storylines, our non-narratives, non-utopias, to look closely at this problematic, embarrassing, contaminated material, the old snakeskin, the cotton dyed with larkspur, to take that seriously - its beauty, its potential, its reality. This is first of all a beginning in end times, as a matter of fact.
Oliver Koerner von Gustorf