O L Y M P I A or: Message from the Dark Room
With the Capsule exhibitions, Haus der Kunst provides young, international, emerging artists the opportunity to show new works in a museum setting. For this format – established in 2014 – each artist is given one exhibition space, a fact reflected in the format's name, "Capsule". This year, the "capsules" present the work of two London-based artists, Adele Röder (b. 1980) and Lynette Yiadom Boakye (b. 1977). Although each exhibition is treated as an independent entity, there are surprising conceptual similarities between the works of the artists, both of whom deal in different ways with questions of the representation of the body.
The focus of Röder's Capsule 04 exhibition is the body as a nonverbal means of expression. The starting point of the work presented here is the exploration of postures as a basic archaic form – or even alphabet – of human exchange, because, according to Röder, "Certain attitudes and positions are forms in a rudimentary language with which cultural knowledge is transmitted over centuries." Here, the body serves as the interface between the subject and the surrounding environment.
For her presentation, Röder developed an extensive series of line drawings that depict postures and details of the body. These are based on a limited series of forms, consisting of circles, circle segments and L-forms, which were borrowed from her COMCORRÖDER project (since 2010). The drawings can be regarded as an index of different forms of expression and of various life ages – ranging from infant to skeleton. Ranging from animated to amusingly odd in character, the figures are presented as slide projections; selected basic forms are laid out using neon tubes arranged on a table or mounted to the wall.
Neon tubes have appeared in Röder's work since 2010 in a variety of contexts. They have functioned as freestanding, graphic or spatial structures or served to light a pop-up store created by the artist, where personalized garments could be tailored using sketches from the COMCORRÖDER series. It was evident here that Röder understands her work as a continuous, open process of transformation, in which continually-developing elements can become signifiers in ever new contexts. Rather than being used to illuminate something, the neon tubes have now become autonomous "luminous bodies".
The artistic medium light lends the room – illuminated only by the artist's works – an ethereal quality, which is underscored by the attraction that the luminous body-like forms exert. The darkness evokes a feeling of entering into a kind of grotto or cave; a space that opens a view into the past. At the same time, Röder understands this setting as visionary: The forms are suggestions and become models that permit one to contemplate both present and future forms of social exchange. Thus, the works in "O L Y M P I A, or: Message from the Dark Room" possess fundamental Platonic qualities. They are simultaneously representational and ideational.