Ulla von Brandenburg — Die Strasse

Exhibition

Installation, video

Ulla von Brandenburg
Die Strasse

Past: November 30, 2013 → January 25, 2014

Ulla von brandenburg grid Ulla von Brandenburg, Die Strasse — Galerie Art : Concept Née en 1974 à Karlsruhe, Ulla von Brandenburg vit et travaille à Paris depuis de nombreuses années et se réalise autant dans la vidéo, le dessin que les installations.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, éd. Gallimard, 1994, p.105

For her third solo show at Art: Concept, Ulla von Brandenburg presents Die Straße, her latest film, which she integrates in a maze-like fabric installation that metamorphoses the gallery’s space. Just like the character shown inside the film; the spectator will be forced to evolve along a path delimited by theatre props. Indoors, this path becomes a route outlined by fabric panels. As it’s often the case with Ulla von Brandenburg’s work: the installation has a lot of importance because it allows the anchorage in space of the piece, developing a dialogue with the site’s specificity and foreshadowing the film’s contents.

While most of the artist’s previous films (from 8 to Singspiel, Chorspiel and Spiegellied 1 and 2) situate the action in real or symbolized indoor settings, Die Straße has been shot outside and its story happens in the street. Ulla von Brandenburg often uses the concept of the house as a protective case to evoke family themes, as well as subjects related to human relations. Whereas in the street the characters that come across each other may be simply acquainted with each other without being related. The street is an open space and the things that happen there are different from the things that happen in the private sphere. In Die Straße, a visitor arrives on a street and becomes witness of a series of events without ever becoming part of things. Recalling the mechanism of Alice in Wonderland, in which the protagonist maintains her position as observer and keeps on trying to understand the functioning of a world which is alien, Ulla’s main character becomes a being apart, someone on the margins of the world that he is discovering and therefore more and more suspect in the eyes of the other characters. During his wandering along the street he becomes us : the spectators, strangers from another world and from other times. We have landed here, incapable of understanding the rites and actions of the men and women who surround us. Just like the young Alice, the few times that the actor tries to interact and intervene, he’s forced to acknowledge the clash between two worlds as well as the incomprehension of the other characters. He would like to help, but should he be allowed to intervene? Won’t he destabilize the frail balance of existing rituals and events?

The question of timelessness is to be added to the distancing notion. Timelessness as one of the subjects often dealt with by Ulla von Brandenburg. She explains it like this: “When something is impossible to define on a time level, the tendency is to automatically relate it to the past. But who can assure us that maybe it is not rather something of the future? It is important for me to situate the action out of time and play with different epochs. My films refer more to historical perspectives than to the past as such.” In her films and installations, Ulla Von Brandenburg creates a distance between the “here and now” level and a relation of temporality through space. This distancing effect functions as a sort of void that can be filled with images or objects to be found both in her films and in the exhibition space.

Objects play a preponderant role in the theatrical art of Ulla von Brandenburg. They can at once feature in her films and be physically present in her artistic production. In her films, objects proliferate in space and ceaselessly keep exceeding the limits of the “accessory” status or that of simple props. In her watercolors and cutouts, objects become many references to the different epochs, rituals and symbols that have constituted our societies. Finally, as individuals, we derive from these objects and the many layers of semantic references that they inspire, and every moment we decide to construct ourselves around them or not. For instance the mirror, taken as a symbol of knowledge and awareness, shows and reflects the different states of reality that surround us: Awareness, reflection, and conscience. Without necessarily tackling a lacanian analysis of things, in which the mirror would promote the awareness of the “I” and of one’s own development as individual, Ulla von Brandenburg, by using that object, certainly wishes to make reference to the individual and his place in society. Who does what? Who makes use of whom? Which price do we have to pay to occupy a place in the pyramid of power?

To all these objects, wandering characters and out-of-time protagonists the artists adds words and sometimes songs, always in German. Her texts remind us of the automatic writings of Surrealists and are always written all in one session and without pause. They are always direct statements comprising a few plays on words and the odd reference to a song… This discourse, rather a spontaneous association of ideas than a narrative, allows the spectator’s brain to automatically create connections and to attribute emotional significance to the work.

Through theatre, staging, artifacts, rituals, light and shadow, as well as through popular traditions, Ulla von Brandenburg’s work invites the spectator to look and consider strange foreign worlds, but also to ask himself a few fundamental questions on the place he occupies and on the role he could be playing…

Text: Aurélia Bourquard — Translation: Frieda Schumann
  • Opening Thursday, November 28, 2013 6 PM → 9 PM
Art : Concept Gallery Gallery
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