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A PSALM FOR THE WILD BUILT

Artists: Marion Mandeng – Barbara Boekelman –
Eleonora Roaro – Cathy Jardon – Irina Gabiani
Art form: Painting, installation, video, photography
Curator: Luisa Catucci
Opening: 20. June 20, 2024
Duration: 20. June – 30 August 2024
Location: LCG, Brunnenstr 170, 10119 BERLIN

A PSALM FOR THE WILD BUILT

Artists: Marion Mandeng – Barbara Boekelman –
Eleonora Roaro – Cathy Jardon – Irina Gabiani
Art form: Painting, installation, video, photography
Curator: Luisa Catucci
Opening: 20. June 20, 2024
Duration: 20. June – 30 August 2024
Location: LCG, Brunnenstr 170, 10119 BERLIN

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Taking its title from the eponymous book by Becky Chambers, this exhibition aspires to be a visual poem in reverence of the wild built. It stands as a declaration of love and solidarity from four wild built women artists, alongside the four wild built women running the Luisa Catucci Gallery, to their untamed peers—women, men and those in between, alike.

The inner wildness is a profound, untamed force residing deep within many individuals. Embracing this inner wildness enables women to access their primal power, reconnect with their natural instincts, and navigate life’s complexities with a fierce, unyielding spirit. This wildness defies societal expectations and limitations; it may be contained or restrained temporarily, but it inevitably finds its path to eruption. It is a source of immense strength, resilience, and intuition, manifesting in expressions of profound creativity, fierce protection, and unwavering determination. This torrent of raw creativity places women artists at the forefront of the wild built, despite the historical and societal disadvantages that have denied them the same opportunities afforded to their male counterparts.

Much like a volcano erupting after years of dormancy, the creativity of women has surged anew over the past century, contributing significantly to the inspiring and challenging transformations that society continuously requires. The manifestations of the craft of wild built women in the contemporary art scene are vast and varied. This exhibition does not seek to represent or teach the history of women in art (or other fields), but rather to simply express love and appreciation for kindred spirits.

Moreover, inner wilderness manifests in diverse forms of expression. This exhibition does not focus on the explosive gestures akin to Jackson Pollock or the passion-driven expressions of Tracey Emin, but rather on a wilderness that induces deep, profound reflections on oneself, society, existence, and one’s attitudes and roles.

 

The German artist Marion Mandeng lives and works between Berlin and London. Repetition is key in Marion’s work, serving as a powerful tool to underline her ironic criticism of society, role models, and standardisation. She investigates human behaviour and reveals a feminine perspective—the Freudian “missing subject” in society.

Through her artistic view, vulvas—long objectified by society—become powerful subjects, representing the history of women’s struggle for rights. Simultaneously, objects traditionally associated with men are enriched with a feminine dimension, suggesting that building a healthy reality requires balancing masculine and feminine, women and men.

Marion’s colour palette, primarily pink and black, is an elegant combination rich with meaning. It symbolises interracial collaboration, another fundamental pillar of a healthy society. In one of her series, Marion depicts superheroes—women and men—painted in black and boxed, pointing to imposed fake values that standardise and repress rather than enhance unique qualities.

Rich with humour, Marion’s work represents a healthy manifestation of feminism. It portrays women as protagonists, supported by all other wild-built beings, striving for a more emancipated, balanced, and just society.

Barbara Boekelman is a Netherlandish artist based in New Zealand, who recently placed third in the international BBA Art Prize. Her paintings are strong and fierce, yet also comforting, familiar, and enveloping, rich with stimulating counterpoints. At first glance, Barbara Boekelman’s paintings appear abstract, but they reveal hidden figuration within the brushstrokes. Using representative imagery as a starting point, she gradually surrenders to a predominantly abstract fusion of colour and form. In an intuitive exercise of concealing and revealing, the foreground and background continuously shift. This alternation between abstraction and figuration allows Barbara to rejoice in the liberty of expression, actively refusing to choose one over the other. As any wild-built person, she cannot be defined by a single characteristic.

Her chosen colour palette offers a delightful contrast, being vivid, energetic, and almost aggressive, while also soft, comforting, and charming, thanks to the pastel notes skilfully added to the impasto. Barbara embraces the contradictions of existence, revealing them in her artistry. Her background in journalism pushes her to base the narratives of her paintings on social, political, or existential matters close to her heart.

The pieces involved in “Psalm For The Wild Built” are those recently awarded by BBA, showcasing her dynamic and multifaceted approach to contemporary art.

In the work of French painter Cathy Jardon, geometrical construction, perception, and repetition are key elements. A first look at Cathy’s work reveals her impeccable sense of aesthetics, rich with playfulness and underlined by a vibrant, positive colour palette. Upon closer inspection, her abstract geometric vocabulary continually questions the very notion of the image. Cathy’s paintings are meticulously constructed, with illusive chiaroscuro serving as the undisputed champion of her compositions. Her paintings are dense, obsessive, and controlled, yet within each, an element rises as a powerful, dissonant note—the wild built element for which conformity is impossible and unacceptable.

This element might be a single tassel, perceiving itself as unable to accept and conform to reality, or an odd perspective showing the collapse of an existence full of contradictions—a touch of metaphysics for the wild built ravers. Cathy Jardon’s paintings are not an incitement to rebellion but an ode to singularity. There are no definitive answers provided in Cathy’s work to these existential ponderings, but when confronted with them, one is enveloped by a warm feeling of acceptance and solidarity. Her art invites viewers to embrace their unique perspectives and the inherent contradictions of existence, celebrating individuality and the beauty of nonconformity.

Italian artist Eleonora Roaro grounds her artistic practice in the moving image, with a particular focus on film history, archaeology of filmography, and archives. She works with a variety of media, including video, photography, performance, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Roaro often revisits, reproduces, and remakes old devices and iconographies to make sense of culture and society through images. Her latest work, “Irma Vep,” included in the Psalm For The Wild Built show, draws inspiration from Louis Feuillade’s early-cinema serial. This piece explores themes of online addiction, behaviour, and sexuality. In “Irma Vep,” Roaro creates an alter ego based on interviews with professional dominatrices (“pro-dommes”) active between Milan and Turin.

Irma Vep ascends to a collective character, offering reflections on sex work, fetishism, desire, and the role of images in contemporary society, within an “onlife” dimension where the boundaries between online and offline are increasingly blurred. Clad in a latex catsuit and glossy boots, Irma Vep embodies fetishistic and sadomasochistic (SM) impulses. Drawing on Arnheim’s observations from the early days of sound films, Roaro highlights how silent cinema—relying solely on images—prioritises sight as the main sense. Silent films, therefore, provide a unique opportunity to explore the connection between images and fetishism, as well as the fetishistic allure of images themselves. As Arnheim noted, “The fetish would be entirely like a symbol, but similar to an impressed and fixed plane, an impressed image, a photograph to which one would always return.”

Wild built Georgian artist based in Luxembourg, Irina Gabiani, creates her art within the concept of “Minimalism-Complexity,” an idea where minimalism and complexity do not oppose but complement each other. The artist rigorously investigates the conceptual interplay between frame, ornament, and space. The meticulously detailed patterns that demarcate the space are populated by carefully selected figures, objects, and shapes. In this context, the monochromatic space functions as a stage that elucidates the psychoanalytic notion of “grasping the lost.” This concept pertains to the human endeavour to comprehend and reclaim what has been lost, encompassing reality, memories, experiences, or fragments of the self.

In her oeuvre, Gabiani employs intricate lines and detailed patterns as symbolic acts of reclamation, encapsulating absence and rendering the intangible tangible. Her work serves as a visual manifestation of the persistent attempt to apprehend and interpret the lost elements within our consciousness, resonating with C.G. Jung’s theories on the collective unconscious and the integration of lost aspects of the self. The objects and figures in each composition are unified by a dominant colour, which fosters both coherence and visual complexity.

Gabiani’s examination extends to the dynamics of attention and perception, probing what we focus on, what we deem significant, and how these elements are contextualised. Her art underscores the equilibrium between presence and absence, prompting viewers to contemplate the delicate balance between the two, thus engaging with Jungian concepts of individuation and the conscious realisation of unconscious content.

 

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