Virtual Walk Through Area Caproni U8OPIA
Cassina Projects is pleased to present Area Caproni U8OPIA, an exhibition conceived by the dialogue between Louisa Clement and Georg Herold. Belonging to different generations, the German artists exhibit together and in Milano for the first time.
Developing through the two floors of the gallery, the exhibition reveals a transient world populated by humanoid figures suggesting new mechanisms to regulate life. Their recent artworks, some of which never exhibited before, engage an interactive questioning in which way encounters between humans, their bodies and life cycles are evolving.
Approaching their work with different media Louisa Clement and Georg Herold open an intensive dialogue creating tension between the dynamics of human’s life we acknowledge and their evolution we pretend to ignore.
Louisa Clement works with photography, video, sculpture and VR (virtual reality) metaphorically analysing the objectification of the human body, through new ways of representing the human figures. In her photographic work the subject is a mannequin as reflection of people's perception identity and as a symbol of the multiple personalities with which people identify themselves.
In the artist’s series Avatar, photographs of brightly hued mannequins’, taken with her iPhone camera, dehumanize the diversity of bodies while the seriality of similar poses anonymizes the human being. Seductively looking, Clement’s work hardly defines the borders between photography and painting, where the dissolution of defined structures is an essential moment of her practice.
The research of new meanings and interpretations of the human body continues in Georg Herold's work representing hyper naturally twisted anthropomorphic figures. Surrealistically oversized humanoid bodies, or portions such as legs or arms, ambiguously transmit controversial emotions of extreme pain or sublime ecstasy. Composed of canvases stretched on planks of wood, bronze, foam or bare wood, the bodies are arrested in the moment of action, as if in an ironic or sexually provocative pose. The narrative of the exhibition develops toward the deconstruction of physicality.
As in the lath-paintings made by roof battens which imagery raise memories of the 8bit graphic computer language, that transform the role of canvas by changing it into a support that outspreads from the frame into the picture, assembled with photographic colored paper, tights and other lower grade materials which he has been working since the 80’s.
The ongoing investigation of humanoid figures and the dynamics of interactions between human beings push its boundaries in the new sculptural work Mold by Louisa Clement. The bronze artwork is a mold of a sex doll belonging to a new generation of luxury sex toys, provided with an artificial intelligence, which allows the doll to learn and memorize the preferences of the users and interacts with them in order to achieve a new level of experience. This process of replacement of a living partner directly relates with the new photographs. Framed with the camera of her smartphone the artist realized that the negative volume of the sculpture becomes positive. Within the artist’s interest of the digitalized social media era, this work becomes a metaphor of Instagram profiles, which are able to fulfill people life.
The interference between physical transformation and digital reaches its highest expression in the video work Circling Head by Louisa Clement, where a video of a mannequin head rotates in loop provoking in the viewer a sense of nihilism and unstoppable disturbance.
Through new ways of representing the human figures, Area Caproni U8OPIA plays with the perception of art leaving the visitors wondering the meaning of physicality and virtual despite virtual wouldn’t exist without physical.
Louisa Clement's practice delves into the ever-shifting notion of identity as our society gets confronted with new forms of communication, standardisation and recognition brought along by the digital age. Through photography, video, sculpture, installation and VR, her practice questions physicality and the dynamics of collective interaction at a time where the virtual has long outgrown its own sphere and the fragile categories of individual and reality escape their traditional paradigms. Clement’s essential aim at dissolving defined structures is also emphasized by the constant swinging of her work between abstraction and figuration and by her making use of a broad range of media to mimic the fluidity of the subject she examines, which indirectly reflects the extent of her investigation rooted in the fluctuating and networked condition of our times.
In the series Avatar, Disruptions, Gliedermensch and Heads, sleek mannequins photographed by the artist with her iPhone’s camera become visual and conceptual subjects. Symbols of the dehumanization of bodies and prophets of the anonymizing homologation caused by seriality and alienation, the mannequins deny gender definition and face recognition so that only the arbitrary coloring or the anatomical poses make room for distinction. Clement’s figures incarnate lifelessness yet they retain a palpable physicality. Their artificial nature is counterbalanced by their intimate allure.
The acclaimed installation Transformationsschnitt (Transformation Cut) further highlights tension and contradiction as pivotal forces behind Clement’s multi-layered practice. Rows of black obsidian-like glassy stones resembling fragments of meteorite radiate delicacy and aesthetic purity. However, consisting of the residue of chemical weapons confiscated during the Syrian civil war whose toxic components were mixed with sand and incinerated, the stones are loaded with the potential of death. Uncanny and lethal, their beauty speaks of transformation while addressing collective consciousness.
Recently, with the ambitious work titled Aporia, Clement has translated her interest in oobjectified bodies and automatons into virtual reality. Using VR equipment, the viewer is invited to interact with a group of artificial digital bodies reminiscent of the artist’s faceless mannequins. Through Aporia, Clement reiterates concerns over the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning yet she also explores the antithetically dual relation between physicality and virtuality.
With the series Mold, a black bronze sculptural mold of a sex doll belonging to a new generation of luxury sex toys, provided with an artificial intelligence which allows the doll to learn and memorize the preferences of the users and interact with them in order to achieve a new level of experience, Louisa Clement stresses her ongoing investigation on the dynamics of interaction and explores the replaceable nature of a living partner.
Over and above corporeality and identity, Louisa Clement’s visionary universe populated by cryptically seductive humanoids unearths concerns of control and authority as body integrity, human thinking and desire alike are unequivocally morphed by the ineluctable interdependence of human hand and technological advancements.
Louisa Clement (b. 1987 in Bonn, Germany) lives and works in Bonn, Germany. She graduated in 2014 at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as master student of Andreas Gursky.
Louisa Clement has exhibited in various institutions and museums including Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany (2020); Triennial for Photography and New Media at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Norway (2020); Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany (2019); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2019); Digitale Kunsthalle des ZDF (2019); Kunst Raum Riehen, Riehen, Switzerland (2018); Museum für Photographie in Braunschwei, Germany (2018); Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and Rencontres Photographiques de Toulouse, France (2018) Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne, Germany (2017); Kunsthalle Recklinghausen and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf inGermany (2016). Her work is part of important collections: Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, TheNetherlands; Atlanta Kulturstiftung, Bad Homburg, Germany; Collection of the City of Bruhl, Germany; Collection Ringier, Zurich, Switzerland.
Louisa Clement Press
Georg Herold (b. 1947, Jena, Germany) is a recognized contemporary artist characterized for his experimental work with mixed media, installation, and sculpture. He completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg during the mid 1970’s. He is currently based in Cologne and has taught at the prestigious Kunstakademie Düsseldorf since 1999.
Herold was part of a wave of revolutionary young artists that emerged in Germany during the last three decades of the twentieth century. While in Hamburg, he was a student of Sigmar Polke, renowned post-war artist whose work responded to advertisement and consumer culture. During this early stage of his artistic formation, Herold also became acquainted with other leading artists of his generation, including Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, Günther Förg, and Werner Büttner.
The artist experiments with everyday and ordinary materials generally used for construction, household, clothing, and edible purposes. He engages with various non-traditional mediums such as buttons, mattresses, bricks, baking powder, wood, nails, and socks. “As a matter of principle, I never use materials that speak their own language. That’s why I pick on rough, stupid materials that don’t ask questions.” His use of inexpensive and second-rate materials has led his work to be often compared with that of Arte Povera. Nevertheless, through his notorious series of caviar paintings, the artist explores a contrastingly expensive and highly valued delicacy. By applying a coat of acrylic and lacquer, however, he successfully alters its previous association with wealth and status. Herold aims to offer the viewer an artwork to be read and analyzed freely, without connotations and pretexting references.
Similar to his drawings and paintings, he also employs unconventional materials in his sculptures and installations. Amongst his most notable free-standing work, is his series of large and unnaturally contorted anthropomorphic figures. Varying in color and form, their strangely elongated extremities and dramatic poses are open to interpretation. The artist’s overall oeuvre thus questions our understanding of art and tests our natural tendency to seek meaning within it.
Georg Herold's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in various prominent institutions such as Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn Germany (2017/18), Kunst in Weidingen, Weidingen, Luxembourg (2015), Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2012), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2007), and the Stedelijk Museum voor Atuele Kunst, Gent (2007).