Prior to the opening of the gallery – formerly an auto repair shop- the Kosovarian artist Petrit Halilaj upholstered the previously renovated space for an intime experiment: He installed water pipes, transforming the arid space with borrowed facilities, then added a sofa, a commode, a fold-away bed and rug, a kichenette and bathtub to make it into a cozy apartment. With a high degree of burocratic investment, he arranged a visit to Berlin for his father who lives in Kosovo and spent a week with him in the fake home. The parameters imposed by this forcibly arranged external situation, made the inner distance experienced by two people who live in different places and in different styles decrease. As father and son reside in the staged space, the limits between life and work of art dissolve further. Memories, time, people’s actions make up the art process. For the opening of the gallery space, only the traces of the action will remain which, without knowledge of the background, could also be read as abstract painting and sculpture.
A sofa left behind in Petrit’s temporary apartment is used by Reto Pulfer for his installation. “I don’t trust the sofa. It makes you sluggish and sleepy”, the artist says. Pulfer works the piece of furniture, opens up seams, removes cushioning, incorporates other objects like a piece of moss and a wooden board for seating. He then utilizes the leftover material in a wall piece. The classification of things is newly displaced in this work. In the exhibition furniture becomes sculpture, leaving its usual context to be converted into a fetish, just like a mask, costume or tool from an extinct culture in an ethnological museum.
Hannah James decided to place her sculpture between the two installations. Beacon is made simply from a wooden pole and thin papers, yet expands onto both levels of the gallery. By eliminating the staircase, she makes the direct passage from one room to the other impossible, forcing visitors to take the long way through the outside of the gallery. Her installation, particularly light and fragile, contradicts itself by becoming an obstacle you cannot avoid. Beacon is reminiscent of the flags placed on mountains to mark either the summit or a refuge point. Carrying this association, the object then becomes both a symbol of shelter and a marker of achievement.
Lucy Coggle’s work begins on the noticeboards outside the gallery. Blowing up small, intimate drawings to poster-sized publications, these images of brutality are combined with breezy platitudes of optimism – ‘It’ll all turn out for the best’; ‘What’s meant to be will be’ – which fail to neutralize the horror of the imagery. Their replicabilty (they are a kind of photocopy and the type is that of a newspaper headline) underlines the banality and universality of personal trauma.
The personal is again juxtaposed with publicity in the jaunty and idiomatic ‘Poster (Only to meet another even bigger bugger)’. Reminiscent of advertising in its proportions, typography and layout, yet painstakingly and evidently handmade, it juggles the tired but enduring imagery of the skull with an ebullient colour scheme and resilient acceptance of failure.
Inside the gallery we find a tie to concrete reality – the handmade meeting the official in everday life, where signs purporting to announce on thing have been adapted to signify another. Again there is a combination of the gravity of authority with the levity of the idiosyncratic, and the rub between publicity and idiocy.