ULRIKE KOLB AND EVA SCHÖFFEL | Elsewhere
Opening: Friday, 14 February 2014, 7 p.m.
Exhibition: 15 February - 15 March 2014
There is little interconnection between the works by Ulrike Kolb and Eva Schöffel, one might think at first. If any, would it be some linkage to tradition, of all things? While one of these artists is an analog photographer, the other uses linocut, a high pressure technique akin to woodcut, and looking back on centuries of tradition. Both deal with urban space as it surrounds us today, and with the structures organizing it. Perceiving these structures with a regard that blends wonderment with formal intent, and thus seeing them anew, may be the actual shared plane both artists operate on. While French sociologist Marc Augé coined the term “non-places” for the margins of contemporary big city space, the objects and areas in the images by these two artists could be called non-images, as they show what hitherto has not been perceived as worthy of an image.
Eva Schöffel works with few colors and clear-cut shapes which make her pictures seem plain and transparent. It’s all about the depiction of buildings and space. In this, in her two-dimensional works as well the trained sculptor may be recognized. By way of linocuts and cardboard cut-outs she develops urban landscapes and houses that by the very cutting-away of the print form open up a space, while only compositional persistence and consciously executed cut amalgamate a picture that, in this sense, does not exist, even though it reminds us of something seen before. The series “Orte” depicts exemplary spaces wherein the memory of a place has a function, too. A memory that, in the case of “Schule”, for instance, may be understood entirely biographically, a as reference to the artist’s personal history, yet it may also, in its principal simplicity, remind the viewer of some own perception.
In a new photographic series “Briefe” Eva Schöffel works with the appearance of handwriting. Single words and text passages handwritten on paper seem to await completion like fragments of letter pages. The lines come across as slivers of thought, but may also be understood as self-questioning, or a message to an imaginary person. At the same time you’d ask yourself what is being seen: a trompe-l’oeil-style painted note or the trivial situation of a piece of paper that has fallen to the ground? This series, too, deals both with our perception and the object itself.
Ulrike Kolb organizes her work in series as well. “Im Haus der Stadt” shows details of architectures and urban spaces. The locations remain anonymous, and they are unspectacular. No sign, no inscription allows for an association with any concrete place. Perspective and lighting lack any dramatic effect whatsoever. In the uniformly brightly-lit rooms there are no perspectives that would draw the viewer’s regard into any depth. The precision of composition and framing, and the subtlety of colors, however, emphasize the sculptural properties of doorsteps and house entrances while their functions become irrelevant. Devoid of perspective, the lines of tiles and windows, too, turn these furnishings into purely graphic structures. Thus images are created that deal with principles of abstract art: the relation between planes and colors. At the same time these planes and colors bear traces of usage referring the viewer back to the environment surrounding us. Yet are these really traces of usage, are these situations real and existing? Over and over again you’ll find yourself asking such questions, and the regard attempts to gain certainty as to whether these might not be model landscapes after all, what with the perfect staging of these pictures. That is because Ulrike Kolb’s photographs not only play with our everyday experience, but also with our knowledge of contemporary photography.
This casual questioning of our viewing habits is where these two artists meet. That which at first seems so rather simple and assessable in their pictures may nonetheless strike up the magic of the disconcerting, or a melody of remembrance. And then you won’t get those pictures out of your head again.