Re: Working, Thinking, Seeing

October 11, 2013 - November 10, 2013

This exhibition marks the first collaboration between two programs housed in the Department of German Studies: Gallery K in the Max Kade German Cultural Center, a program in its second season, and the Focus on German Studies Conference, a graduate student-coordinated conference in its eighteenth year.

The theme for this year’s conference and exhibition is adaptations of German literary- and artworks. As the conference will seek to explore what it means to adapt a narrative in the twenty-first century, the exhibition presents contemporary artworks that reflect on, take inspiration from, or build on existing German print, film, stage or visual art works or familiar German myths, characters or themes.  

The gallery will be open weekdays from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm and will be free and open to the public. Please note: the interactive sound installation, Halsen & Tegrel: Anamnesis, will be available weekdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Additionally, this exhibition will serve as both the backdrop and as a discussion forum for the Focus on German Studies Conference, Re: Working, Thinking, Seeing. Adapting to the 21st Century on Saturday, November 9, 2013. The conference will include a roundtable discussion for scholars and artists at 5:30 that evening, including guest artists Scott Dickens and Leonardo Selvaggio of Ka-Ter Art, Larissa Mellor and Nestor Armando Gil.

EXHIBITING ARTISTS

David Mazure & The MMXII Collective, Defeated/Amputees (WAR), 2012-13

silkscreen prints on clayboard w/recycled tire rubber flocking

The MMXII Collective attempts to remove ego and the singular perspective of a solitary artist from the artwork. The Collective’s focus is on the overall exhibition value of the art and the negation of the cult value or ritual status of the fetishized art object, hence promoting the ideology of transcending materialism. It also aims to negate the cult of the artist. The MMXII Collective finds inspiration in Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” attaching less importance to the sales value of their works than to their usefulness for contemplative immersion.

Mazure on Defeated/Amputees (WAR):

[This artwork] is an innovative, site-specific installation inspired by Albrecht Durer’s print series The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and by Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. Representing the third horseman of the apocalypse, War, Defeated/Amputees moves beyond memory, beyond recollection, to strive for new possibilities. What happens to this end-of-the-world myth when it fails to deliver what it has promised? Can we rearrange and repurpose it to suit the needs of the new millennium?

Ka-Ter Art, Halsen & Tegrel: Anamnesis, 2013

Ka-ter Art is a collaborative effort between artists Scott Dickens and Leo Selvaggio that functions at the cross section of their mutual interest in memory, perception, and the narrative structure. Through sound, installation, and other mediums, Dickens and Selvaggio allow participants to actively build audio narratives through their personal interpretation of the environment. This facilitates the creation of spaces and places that are in constant flux, and are subject to the decisions made by participants.

Selvaggio and Dickens on Halsen & Tegrel: Anamnesis:

Halsen & Tegrel: Anamnesis reinterprets the story of Hansel & Gretel through sound as the vehicle for the recollection process. The tale was divided into eight narrative parts that were integral to the progression of the plot, then reinterpreted as 8 distinct audio clips that collectively represent the narrative.

HTA operates under the supposition that memory and recall is an imperfect process. Memory, rather than acting as a document, is actually a continual reconstruction of events that we assume are true. HTA explores this process by asking of its audience to serially reconstruct the well-known German fairy tale using a mixture of individual and collective memory.

Orion Wertz, Profile, 2012

oil on panel

Orion Wertz grew up in the Pittsburgh area of western Pennsylvania, and remains strongly influenced by the industrial and rural landscapes of that region. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and his Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. From 2001 to 2003 he worked in New York City as an art handler. Subsequently he became an art professor at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. He produces paintings and graphic novels.

Wertz on Profile:

Profile expresses my interest in combining idioms from Northern Renaissance painting with tropes from contemporary video game renderings. I have studied the mische technique employed by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Altdorfer, and others in the Danube school so that I can employ similar techniques in my own work. Historic representations of the sublime are of great interest to me, especially when they are contrasted with our contemporary views of the landscape. My hope is that my imagery can generate an aesthetic experience for the viewer by flickering back and forth between the natural and the synthetic.

Ivan Mihaljević, Sigismund and Moth, 2013

Sigismund, Moth in verse, Tol, Moth, Flea; mixed media

Born in Kassel, Mr. Mihaljević studied at medical schools in Germany and Australia. Since then he has worked as a physician specializing in neurodegenerative disorders, focusing particularly on Parkinson’s disease and other disabling disorders. He has also worked psychiatrically, with a past focus on schizophrenic and affective disorders. Mr. Mihaljević is highly interested in philosophy, writing and art, and creates lyric work concerned with such themes as philosophy, mood, neuroscientific progress, Asian cultures and antiquity and Anglo-Saxon culture and heritage. His artworks offer insights into such complex issues as body, phone and spirit in context of timeliness from a European but also cosmopolitan point of view.

Mihaljević on Sigismund and Moth:

Sigmund Freud placed the importance of the drives, above all, death and libido, fully at the forefront of primary and secondary socialization. A thorough investigation reveals, contrary to expectations, that his theories of the formation and control of the drives were already present in Antiquity and can primarily be applied as a motif to the exercise of government by Hellenistic rulers.
Even though in Europe after the Second World War, Freud's theories and definitions were increasingly relegated to the background in the academic and clinical fields, they have survived, even if in an altered form, in different cultural regions, particularly in the English-speaking world. What is the reason for this state of affairs? Do Freud's partially handed-down theories, despite less frequent use, nevertheless continue to characterize Western Civilization? Has a century of use - with fluctuating manifestations - embedded these ideas so deeply that our present conception of self and the associated formation of relationships on the individual and societal levels will continue to obtain in the future? Is it a continued, modified application of the ancient basic theory, which Freud has masterfully made use of?

This five-part composition – three poems, one photograph and one installation – contains the German-language poem "Sigismund," the titular character of which illustrates the aforementioned state of affairs, providing an interconnection among Antiquity, himself and the origins of the theory. Through this and the two accompanying poems written in English, "Moth" and "ToI," an interplay between the vowels and phones is permitted, which provides a platform for an individual interpretation of the spoken and the heard content. While the handwritten and printed, spatially arranged lines contain static and basic information, a varied pronunciation of rhymes or even parts of words can result in an intrinsic change of the fundamental meaning. Additionally, individual reading styles can allow for differing interpretations from the reader and listener. The intercorrelation of ancient Greek, German, English and Croatian produces a unique elucidation of the possible fluctuating perceptions and viewpoints along with more or less distinct, possible manifestations on an individual as well as on a regionally-defined, societal level.

Translation by Matthew Bauman

Elizabeth Gerdeman, From Friedrich: The Grosse Gehege near Dresden, 2010

acrylic and watercolor on paper, 14” x 19” approx.

Elizabeth Gerdeman, From Dahl: Landscape on the Elbe, 2010

acrylic, watercolor and graphite on paper, 14” x 19” approx.

Elizabeth Gerdeman graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2004 with a major in Fine Arts and minors in Art History and Art Therapy. She was awarded a University Fellowship from The Ohio State University, and in 2008 received her MFA in Art and a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Fine Arts with concentrations in Contemporary Art History and Social Geography. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting at Ohio University from 2010 – 2011, and Adjunct Faculty at The Ohio State University and Columbus College of Art and Design. Ms. Gerdeman received the Greater Columbus Arts Council's Dresden Artist Residency Award in 2009 and is currently based in Leipzig, Germany.

In her artwork, Ms. Gerdeman explores perceptions of place utilizing landscape as both a genre and a medium. By researching representations of place both past and present, she develops concepts and images from an amalgamation of landscape forms and values.

Gerdeman on her artworks:

For this body of work, my process began by referencing landscapes found in nineteenth-century German Romantic landscape paintings during a three-month artist residency in Dresden, Germany. Focusing on the rise and fall of value ascribed to specific areas, my interests centered on the experience of a place or landscape through idealized representations. Through the artwork created in Dresden, I examine the intersections between historical and contemporary representations. I combined the landscape forms of the old master painters, such as Caspar David Friedrich, with more recent forms of the German landscape including area development maps, topographical perspectives, and panoramic images promoting tourism. This body of work explores notions of place with considerations of how historical and contemporary images of the landscape influence the perception of its value.

Larissa Mellor, Untitled, 2013

cut fabric

Larissa Mellor, Untitled, 2013

charcoal on cut paper

Larissa Mellor, After Atemschaukel, 2013

ink, charcoal and graphite on stretched paper

Larissa Mellor makes drawings, paintings and installations that explore the relationships between the visual, verbal and spatial. She is also undergoing a long-term conceptual project, Remembering the Mother Tongue, in which she is learning the languages spoken by her family in the recent past. Mellor holds an MFA from The Ohio State University and a BFA from Maine College of Art.

Mellor on After Atemschaukel:

Memory, absence and presence are pertinent themes in my work. For example, in the past I have created works based on the experiences of my grandparents as refugees during WWII. In 2004 as I stood in a field in Schartenberg, Austria that was now empty, I imagined how it was when they were among thousands of refugees there. Their stories became animated in my imagination in that space.

The feeling I had when in that field is a feeling I aim to convey through my own work. The work included in Working, Thinking, Seeing uses Herta Müller’s novel Atemschaukel, which is a fictional narrative of a German Romanian in Romania after 1945. The work is a visualization, a trace, of my reading. I seek neither to interpret or adapt the original, but rather to make the language concrete—physical.

Lisa Davies, Lustige Phrasen, 2013

Dry point etch printed, hand bound book, 35cm x 27cm x 2cm

Lisa Davies is a recent graduate of Leeds Met Uni. Though she studied Graphic Design, she practices mainly in illustration and traditional printmaking. Ms. Davies is interested in historical obscurities, culture and human nature, and enjoys things handmade and what she would call “slightly morbid.”

Davies on Lustige Phrasen:

Lustige Phrasen is a hand bound book of dry point etchings inspired by my interest in my cultural background. My mother is German, but I was raised mainly in England, only was reminded of my background with short visits to see relatives once a year. Ignoring my first language for many years I finally started relearning it in an attempt to get back in touch with my heritage. I found it uncanny how I could recognise and understand the language almost instantly even though I couldn’t quite speak it myself, and naturally translating German words and phrases into English in my mind came to some humorous results. I started collecting light hearted German insults and created illustrations to help visualise the translation. In the book I wrote short narratives to explain each phrase, but purposely translated my writing into German, then back to English again to make a point of the confusing grammatical differences between the two languages.

Andy Mattern, Driven Snow (#8457, #8649, #8489, #8516), 2011

Archival pigment prints, 22”h x 17”w

Andy Mattern's often mundane subjects observe the unwitting collaboration between people and the built environment. His photographs and drawings investigate the artifacts of unconscious actions in public spaces. Without focusing directly on people, but instead the traces we leave behind, Mattern puts an emphasis on the unintentional aspects of our experience. Visually, his work employs a minimal aesthetic and operates between abstraction and hyperrealism, problematizing the document and pointing to the limits of human control over our environment.

Andy Mattern holds a BFA in studio art from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in photography from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Mattern on Driven Snow:

The contemporary photographic movement in Germany with acclaimed artists such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Demand, and Candida Höfer, to name just a few, traces its roots through their influential teachers at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and back further still to the work of the German artist and professor, Karl Blossfeldt. Blossfeldt’s seminal 1928 book Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature) provides a template for a way of seeing that extends into the visual arts to this day. His ideas about objectivity and the investigation of formal structures with photography remain as profound and fascinating as ever.

In my work, I draw from this history, making images with a similar devotion to formal and typological rigor, yet with a contemporary slant. My subjects are not strictly natural, nor are they conventionally man-made. I am interested, rather, in the intersection of these forces, the by-products of natural phenomena and human activity. I return to mundane subjects that are easily overlooked, but that say something important about life in the modern world. Despite our advanced technologies and orderly built landscape, entropy and accident persist and point to the limits of human control over our environment. The tension for me is balancing this sense of our fragility with our astounding ingenuity and drive to create a more perfect reality.

Bethany Haeseler,Die Weihnachtsgurke, 2008

mixed media

Ms. Haeseler completed her MFA at Ohio State University is currently an Assistant Professor of Art Foundations/3d Design at SUNY Potsdam. She makes sculptures using mixed media.

Haeseler on Weihnachtsgurke:

This work challenges the "tradition" of the German "Christmas Pickle" Christmas Ornament. On Christmas morning, a glass pickle ornament is hidden within the tree and the first child to find it will receive an extra gift or good luck for one year. This is a very popular tradition among Americans of Germans descent, however this is not practiced in Germany. Instead, this is a clever marketing scheme invented by a Bronner's Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

While making this work, there were many people who (upon recognizing what I was working on) excitedly began to tell me about their childhood experiences with this ornament. I felt torn as whether or not to tell them the "truth." The piece is worn around the neck and kept close to the heart, as to demonstrate that whether something is fact or fiction, we may still hold this close to our hearts and believe it to be our own truth.

Rose DeSiano, Ruin and Peril, 2013

Reenactment, Battle of the Bulge, Fort Indiantown Gap, PA 2012; Historic site, German invasion point, Gennep Holland 1940

Jacquard woven fabric, 71” H x 53” W

Rose DeSiano, From On High, 2012

Reenactment,The Battle for La Fiere Stone Bridge, Conneaut Ohio 2011; Historic site, St. Mere Eglise, France 1944

Jacquard woven fabric, 53" H x 71" W

Rose DeSiano received her M.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles and her B.F.A. from NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.
 She is widely exhibited in the U.S and abroad. DeSiano has also presented on a variety of themes within photography, including “Landscape photography as cultural criticism” and “Family and Memory in Photography.” Her artwork has appeared in publications such as The New Photo Review and Aesthetica magazine.

For the last three-years DeSiano has been dressing up as a WWII War Correspondent while crawling in the mud and all over the US. When she is not in the “staged trenches,” she lives in Brooklyn, NY and is an Associate Professor of Photography at Kutztown University, PA.

DeSiano on War Tapestries:

War Tapestries is a series of large-scale photographic tableaus constructed by digitally merging original photographs from World War II re- enactments. My compositions mirror the way our post modern cultural has created new histories through compilation.

Re-enactors pay painstaking attention to detail as they try to visually re-create or mimic images that have come to epitomize World War II. However, this attempt at visual accuracy is impossible. Our war history now comes filtered through 70 years of media and arts. We have unknowingly adapted the familiar narratives of war as seen in photographs/ footage of the world wars and we have merged them with the grandeur of Hollywood and the art of war veteran storytelling.

My decision to work with jacquard woven fabrics was motivated by my ongoing interest in how battle imagery has functioned throughout history. By alluding to famous 15th century tapestries, these WWII tapestries reference the long history of battle imagery that conflate history with myth.

Nicholas Hill, Brandenburg Gate Quadriga, 2011

solar etching and aquatint, 8” x 10”

Nicholas Hill is Professor of Art and Director of the Frank Museum of Art at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Mr. Hill holds a BFA from Michigan State University and earned his MA and MFA at The University of Iowa. He has received residency grants from both the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council for work in Dresden, Germany, where he has also curated exhibitions. Mr. Hill is represented by Printworks Gallery in Chicago and in 2009 had a solo exhibition at the Käthe Kollwitz Haus in Moritzburg, Germany.

Hill on Brandenburg Gate Quadriga:

The Brandenburg Gate Quadriga offers references to Greek architecture and Roman triumphal sculpture. In my intaglio print, the sculpture became abstracted as I merged my original photograph with a vintage image of a fragment of a 16th century woodcut by Titian. By combining an historical memorial that references mythology with my silhouette photo, I used collage and printmaking to knit the divergent layers of history and meaning together.

Nestor Armando Gil with Julia Guarch, Das Brot (Bunker), 2013

Nestor Armando Gil thinks about place. He lives in the mid-Atlantic region, where he practices art and teaches at Lafayette College. Born into a Cuban family in the Deep South of North Florida, he married a Southern girl from Central Kentucky. Together they are raising two excellent kids in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Julia Guarch is a student and research scholar at Lafayette College where she works as Nestor's studio assistant; a job which led to her collaborative role in this work.

Gil on Das Brot (Bunker):

In response to the short story Das Brot, by Wolfgang Borchert I have constructed a space evocative of the realities in which the story is set: a bunker, a culture of scarcity, a condition of fragile trust. The current state of my sculpture practice uses bread forms to speak on relocation, border, and ideas about home. Using the form of bread this way is a way to rethink how the form can be applied—in this case to an altogether different emotional state—not to hopelessness, but a kind of anti-hope.