New Viewings #42

Curated by Angela Rosenberg

Notions of Shelter

New Viewings is a virtual space, a space in-between the real and the unreal. It has no restrictions and allows for the realization of everything and anything. It provides a controlled environment, which allows for experimentation without the constraints of the physical realm. The exhibition series New Viewings was initiated during the pandemic, when cultural institutions and galleries were closed down. Barbara Thumm invited artists and curators to overcome these obstacles and make use of her virtual gallery. In that sense her gallery offered not only a digital platform for artists and their projects, but also protected surroundings for the development of new ideas in very uncomfortable times. Almost ironically, this site comes in the shape of an interior space, with a floor, walls and a roof as elementary components, assuming that this rendition of an architectural construction was sufficient for a virtual exhibition.

Notions of Shelter presents works which reflect on spaces of fear and longing rather than of survival or existence. The works explore ambiguous fantasies of safe places, that may or may not provide security, be it psychological or in protection of human rights or cultural identity. In their works the four invited artists deal with the fragility of belonging, imminent loss and their individual search for shelter. Vulnerability, protection and the vague concept of proximity and distance are major themes in Anca Munteanu Rimnic’s installation The Distant Past Beyond Memory. In contrast, the cold glass façades in Valeria Heisenberg’s paintings allow only a fleeting Glimpse of a reality that exists in reflection and refraction. Christina Dimitriadis explores a trichotomy of belonging, returning and arriving in her enigmatic photographic series Island Hoping. In Absent Friends Felicitas Aga develops one of her paintings into a virtual installation with a mysterious, abandoned house in motion.


Anca Munteanu Rimnic

The Distant Past Beyond Memory.
Anca Munteanu Rimnic’s poetic and humorous arrangements often include found objects upon which she
establishes a narrative of her own logic. Reflecting on subliminal power structures she examines sources for individual, cultural and collective identity and focuses on questions of past and future, of origin and belonging.

For Notions of Shelter the installation The Distant Past Beyond Memory shows what appears to be a knight in full armor, but on all fours, as if in total defeat. Far from an invulnerable warrior, the submissive posture arouses our sympathy, overriding patriarchal models of manhood and victory. The work however consists only of the heavy hull of a full suit of plate armor, the knight inside has gone away.

The Latin title Lacta (2016) refers to nourishing and allows us to imagine the absent warrior not necessarily in the moment of surrender but on the brink of returning to strength. The work is accompanied by a soundtrack of falling drops of liquid and classical music from afar – echoing sounds from a past and lived world.

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Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42

Valeria Heisenberg

Snow White’s glass coffin may come to mind upon looking at Valeria Heisenberg’s paintings, which typically unfold under what looks like mirror-smooth varnish. But every layer of paint is protected but also sealed off and encased by layers after layers of mostly transparent lacquer. Borrowing from the fetish character of automobile finishings, the artist invites the viewers’ reflections to become a part of the work.

Valeria Heisenberg’s paintings are based on photographic snapshots of reflecting glass façades and shop windows. They represent an overabundance of visual information, with interlocked perspectives and conflicting vantage points, and thereby construct a representation of reality that it is at once familiar as well as irritatingly out of order. Large glass surfaces of airports, skyscrapers or dioramas fascinate the artist, as their reflections melt the presentation with its surroundings, extending to passers-by and ultimately the viewers in front of the works. Her paintings shake up our perceptions of interior and exterior, and not only of buildings.
For Notions of Shelter, the artist realizes an immersive experiment in the virtual gallery, by playing with the expanse of existing paintings and merging them into a continuous presentation. Glimpse is set in a darkened exhibition space, featuring paintings of landmark buildings in Berlin – Palast der Republik, Charité, Cube Berlin – and the Schiphol Airport Amsterdam, to form a continuous backdrop, as if for a movie. Reflected again on the smooth floor of the virtual gallery, it is transformed into a veritable hall of mirrors.

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Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
New Viewings \ New Viewings #42

Christina Dimitriadis

Island Hoping.
Christina Dimitriadis’ photographic series Island Hoping (2015–2018) of skerries – solitary rocky island formations – was photographed in northern Greece, close to locations the artist connects to childhood memories.

Work on her 30-part series started in 2015, the summer of migration, when images from the archipelago of the Aegaen Sea did not show peaceful destinations for a summer vacation anymore, but uprooted refugees on boats, hoping to find refuge in Europe. Images that remain prevalent today, revealing the inhumane conditions for refugees and an ongoing failure of European migration and refugee policies.

In her renditions of these islands as hostile, rugged, barren rocks the artist portrays less an idyllic cliché of Mediterranean beauty or the romantic notion of an island as a place of projection and rejection, of longing to belong. These outposts of Europe do not invite to participate – at its borders the continent shows its real face, offering not a sustainable place for shelter, no protection or even perspective, but a cold, inhabitable, threatening place, and, as the artist puts it: “Through these small, rocky islands, I sought to focus on a distinctive landscape, which mostly goes unnoticed. These photographs compose a different kind of ‘map’ of Greece, a second reading of the country, questioning commonplace, stereotypical imaging.”

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Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42
Galerie Barbara Thumm \ New Viewings \ New Viewings #42

Felicitas Aga

Felicitas Aga, *1968 in Katrineholm, Sweden,
lives and works in London and Kronach

Absent Friends.
In her paintings Felicitas Aga explores ambiguous objects and their potential for animation. Playing with the traditional genre of still life, her series of deserted houses and tents in transitory places, mystical settings, and surreal arrangements can be regarded as reflections of complex emotional experiences, such as isolation, solitude or shelter. Before the End (2019) in particular is inspired by a historical event, the competitive race for the South Pole between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

After 99 days Amundsen and his companions reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911, and returned in triumph. Scott, however, famously perished with all members of his crew, after having arrived at the pole a month later, finding the tent flying the Norwegian flag.
Her animation for Notions of Shelter turns the original painting Dusk (2022) into the virtual installation Absent Friends. It shows a lonely, abandoned hut at night, eerily illuminated by a kind of halo. Its fragile construction consists of flimsy windswept walls of lace. With its pointed roof the dwelling references tents, family houses, but also the basic architecture of the virtual and real gallery space. Sounds of indeterminable sources are perceptible, suggesting a forgotten dream, a pre-birth state in the womb or the underworld of some distant universe. Shadows spill from the painting, as if to dance on the floor and the walls of the virtual gallery, expanding the painting’s uncanny narrative of presence and absence in the virtual space of the gallery and the real space of the viewer’s imaginations.

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