Wide Range. Cultural Focus. Editor Patrick Neithard


by Patrick Neithard

The Gallery Bob Gysin Zurich presents Zurich based Swiss Art Awards 2008 pricewinning artist Anina Schenker in another solo show

Stereotypes, Perception: Language

Allow me first a little excurse. Once (1991) terms of language like “STEREOTYPES!!” were written in CAPS by Barbara Kruger. They came screaming loud, written, printed all over the museum wall. And yes, it had to be said loud. The contents were “gendered violence”, or “structural violence” (as in “suppressing women”, a thing practised in the fine arts throughout the past centuries). Contents broke walls, freeing the way for numerous women artists, at least in the western world. However stereotypes still take part of everyday language, they are the abbrevations in speech. They are our everyday. In the art of Barbara Kruger, the feministic approach came in loud, clear, typo-based, collage fashion, using militant colors red, white, black, creating an accusatory thunder, awakening even the cheapest seats at the back. Women have equal rights.

Times change. They submerge into a next tide bringing up new and old themes when sometimes forming a hybris, sometimes with the need for a historic context. Yet can we (already) say “history”, when we say “feminism”? In the field of language and perception, it seems things currently can be investigated with rather subtle, very mindful, yet alert attentiveness. The subject of artistic investigation could shift. To the many details. Only sometimes, we write history in caps. Then again, history should be written in great detailed variety. So when Swiss Artist Anina Schenker (born 1971 in St. Gallen, living and working in Zurich) – just in time when the national art scene is humming up to the seasonal peak – is given space in the 40 year old Gallery Bob Gysin, and for a solo exhibit, it must be for reasons not only thought in respect of feminist stereotypes.


Stampede is a term describing an instinctive reaction. We know the subject from western, where the bad guy`s shotgun alarms a herd of cattle. The herd scatters all over the field. Runs down anything in way – in pure panic. Once one enters the exhibit with the promising title Stampede, one might expect an artspace in chaos. Not quite. Instead, one immediately remarks a spiral, like a whole birds swarm lifting off from the ground. The work`s title is “Schwärmen”, thus means the biological “to bird”. And yet, these are no birds, they are 600 models of the Hippocampus, cast in polyurethan, each one hung solitarily making part of that well orchestrated spiral. After all, if any herd of cattle, swarm of bird or any gathering of mankind would be directed by some invisible thing, it would be by the hyppocampus. This biological connector between short – and longterm memory, the tiny thing in the shape of a seahorse rules perception from mammals to birds to – human beings. And this swarm (of Hippotalami), as we see it in Anina Schenkers work, obeys, just like in nature, certain rules. What are they? Instinct? Instruction? In peaceful action, it directs spatial orientation, when birds do what they just do. Fly. No matter how fast, they are very well orchestrated, flying somehow at wing length. They rise up, while instinctively only one genus is united in this swarm. But beware. One single bang, a blast, disorder! Disarray, wild movements forming a mesh would fill the sky. (Stampede!) Would. We`re in the arts. And “Schwärmen” is an installation. It has arrested a possible instant before. The moment is frozen. The flow of thoughts, the artists flow of thoughts, and the one of the art lovers just as much, both can spin forth. It is not spinning-the-weel alike. It is contrary. It opens horizons. Although, one has to admit, it is quite paradox. Since exactly that hippocampus – I bet mine is my very personal own – somehow has made me write this. Yours will make you gaze at that appalling work in your own way. There may be moments in which the massive, equal flow, somehow the mainstream, is disrupted, and very individual movement takes place. Leading, only after irrational movement, to reasoning.

Exhibition view: “Schwärmen” (front left,Detail, Installation, 600 pieces) ” Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” , overview. © 2012 Gallery Bob Gysin, Zurich, All rights reserved

Image is Text is Image

Briefly after her Degree in Fine Arts, Anina Schenker has been very well known for her Video Art. An instrument, to the critic, perfectly made to investigate conditions of the human being. Anina Schenker has been awarded with a NYC sholarship. These “gifts” often come with an obligation. The scholarship demands an overall stage file report . What was going on overseas had to be reported. Not the first thing any artist wishes to do. Some of the things may happen with great inspiration. Other periods may seem rather dull, uneventful. And thats how Anina Schenker started her project “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”. It is a diary, consisting of american letter format drawing paper sheets, each lined densely with india ink or with acrilyc just like one writes once with fountain pen, on other days with a ball-pen. Thick lines, painted over these sheets. Each sheet was produced on another day. Lines vary, once light, lucid, seemingly inspired? others thick, dense, energetic, as if the idea got nailed? a gallerist had said yes! and ah yes? or no? New York City had waited for her, things were going ahead. Speculations. It is very conceptual art alike. The artist gives a certain setup, and from there, the object of investigation is, in repetitious form, over and over, reproduced. And reproduction was a main theme in Conceptual Art. And isnt a diary one`s personal reproduction? So we are in the middle of the the concept. Right were we should be, to think about interpretation. To even analise written memory, inscribed and catalogued memory. We see the lines. We start the guess. I see strength and fortitude. You might make out an idiom hidden behind a grid. It happens subjectively.

It comes a bit in an illustrative fashion when a second, very close work group titled “Schaum der Tage” ( Foam Of Days) is exhibited in the very same exhibit. Round circles, like those one knows by drawing them on our phone memo stationery, grow over the paper. But it is not so much illustrative once the organically grown aspect is taken into account. The work here flows much more. It starts and somewhere it ends. Unlike the diary pages above, The drawings “Schaum der Tage” have no clear estimate balance. They start freely. If drawing means no more fun for today, work ends. The paper never is touched again. Thoughts lie behind the circles, contemplation? and again, each sheet stands for one day. Yet these diary entries they grow, like crystals under certain conditions grow. There is no beginning, there is no end, there is no linearity. There is no obvious concept. Or is there? It is just as much a diary, but one translating the condition of language, THOUGHT, in a personal drawing language, hidden behind a concept very opposite to linearity. It is organic. Just how a thoughts process, as a part of language, can be.

“Parole” Single channel Animation, Still. 2012 © all rights reserved, courtesy Anina Schenker & Bob Gysin Gallery, both zurich,

Now see that speach! So silent.

So let me come back to the fact that Anina Schenkers Art Work once has been perceived as “Video Artist”. “Parole” is a video work, presented as a single channel animation, and comes in a loop. Quite prominently exposed at the entry, it reminds, like the language`s parenthesis, where one might come from. In this High Tech Production, the artist replaved ( not for the first time) the usual Cameras with a Highspeed Camera. These shoot 3000 images per second, whereas the average camera seems to end up in oblivion with its 24 frames per second. So, the High Tech camera works 125 times better. No movement skirts this lens. Tech spex aside, two women facing each other (one of them is the artist), eyes fixed on same level. They stare. While almost nothing happens. It happens very slowy. The work has been slown down on purpose. Now we see. Both open their jaws, lips, eyes, the throats veins engorge, swell. In slow motion, but not in the stuttering frame stutters to frame fashion! It is high tech, the motion passes by in clearest images. A cristalline, glassy water stream bespatters in a direct, sharp stream towards the opposite, oral fluency translated into a pure, elemental analogy, water, and as these to collide, it sprays in all directions. Once the talk seemed to be familiar, it had its analogy in a direct straightforward water stream. And yet, the given, language, known as convention, is not at all a warrant for accordance. Language is tricky. Arguments collide. Chaos is the only order. And it can be seen. Language here, indeed is made visible. In a quiet, deliberate, very well orchestrated way. With a slight wink, with a hint of irony. Art as dialogue. Going global.

Anina Schenker
from May 25th 2012 until july 14th, 2012.

Gallery Bob Gysin
Ausstellungsstrasse 24
8005 Zürich

(near Museum für Gestaltung)

© this blog: Patrick Neithard, Zürich, Switzerland. All rights reserved. Do not use or reproduce without permission.


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