Wilde Möhre, Falsche Kamille, Bitterkraut
14.10.2016 — 18.11.2016
Pfingstweidstrasse 23 / Welti-Furrer Areal, 8005 Zürich
Opening reception: Friday, October 14, 6 – 9 pm
Susanne Kriemann returns for her third solo exhibition at RaebervonStenglin. Working with photography via a process of intense investigation, the German artist mines the particular for deeper symbolic resonance. Her projects fuse the photographic with the physical, image with object, and extraction with belonging, creating artworks invested with stories that explore the nature of their medium.
The exhibition takes its title from a new work shown in the main gallery space. Falsche Kamille, Wilde Möhre, Bitterkraut (False Chamomile, Wild Carrot, Ox Tongue) refers to three types of weed that the artist found on ‘Gessenweise’ in the former uranium mining territories of SDAG Wismut in former GDR. Today, the area is so rich in toxic metals that it is believed to have been polluted for more than 100,000 years. Spending a day with the specialist geologists and biologists of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena who study the accommodation of heavy metals of plants in the area, Kriemann identified and harvested the three weeds most capable of extracting and storing their environmental pollutants. The substantial traces of metals found in the plants — aluminium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, uranium, ytterbium, zinc and others — are also important raw materials in the manufacture of smart phones: photosynthesis, in these plants, fixes the same chemicals that are now used by millions of us to fix light as photographic images.
Working back in her studio, the artist dried a volume of these harvested plants into a bouquet and photographed these with her phone. The resultant images — taken in the dark and reflecting the flash of her phone’s camera — compress drastically different concepts of time: the thousands of years it takes to recover polluted land; the life of a plant; and the instantaneous flash in the darkroom. Kriemann labelled the resultant prints with the plants’ metallurgic information using ink she had made from their pulp. Each image completes a circle between subject and material, maker and tool, between drawing with artificial light and mining. A second work will be on display in the back room of the gallery. Duskdust (2016) takes the form of a series of monographic silkscreen prints of what appears to be a mountain seen both at dawn and at dusk, rising sublimely in the centre of the image. In fact, the images depict a vast pile of rubble: a heap of limestone, extracted from the ground with the purpose of becoming cement, yet left indefinitely after the closure of a mining company — now no longer a mountain, nor yet a building. With this work, Kriemann documents a post-industrial landscape, whose sole meaning seems to be to serve as a reminder to rethink the concept of time and memory. The monographs, shown at RaebervonStenglin, were printed onto rock paper with ground dust that has been made using these limestone boulders. The ‘mountain’ they depict is both materially present in the final images and eroded through the process of their manufacture.
Susanne Kriemann was born in Erlangen, Germany, in 1972. She studied at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bilden Künste, Stuttgart, in 1997 where she was taught, among others, by Joseph Kosuth and Joan Jonas; and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris. Significant solo museum exhibitions include at Ernst Schering Foundation Berlin; Prefix ICA Toronto; Galerie im Körnerpark, Berlin (all 2016); 21er Haus, Vienna (2013); Arnolfini, Bristol (2013); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig (2012); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur (2011); and the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2010). Her previous exhibitions at RaebervonStenglin were ‘Het Licht’ (2014) and ‘Ashes and broken brickwork of a logical theory’ (2010). Kriemann is the co-founder of AIR Berlin Alexanderplatz and advisor at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. She lives and works in Berlin.
On view in the showroom:
Works by the artist Saâdane Afif (*1970).