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Conrads: Jana Gunstheimer : Letzte Chance - 13 Sept 2008 to 25 Oct 2008

Current Exhibition


13 Sept 2008 to 25 Oct 2008
tues - fr 11 - 18 h, sat. 12 - 16 h
Preview: Saturday, september 13th 2008, 4-8pm
galerie conrads
kronprinzenstraße 9
40217
Dusseldorf
Germany
Europe
p: +49 211.3230720
m: +49 177.3230720
f:
w: www.galerieconrads.de











Jana Gunstheimer, SBK # 4903
mixed media 150 x 210 cm
© Galerie Conrads, Duesseldorf-Berlin
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Artists in this exhibition: Jana Gunstheimer


JANA GUNSTHEIMER
>Letzte Chance<


About Jana Gunstheimer and NOVA PORTA

Jana Gunstheimer founded NOVA PORTA approximately five years ago as an organisation aimed at dealing with risks. Risks that endanger social peace. Risks generated by “people without function” or large scale- and heavy industry dynasties as portrayed in Stammsitz (headquarters), a group of works housed in Villa Hügel, the former domicile of the Krupp family. The work Heiligsprechung (canonization) comments on the terror caused by moral extremists. Canonization is still common practice and a significant source of income for the Catholic Church. Jana Gunstheimer’s Heiligsprechung (canonization) by the Staatlich Behörde zur Kanonisation (state authority for canonization), founded in 1976 in Austria, satirizes this process. Thousands of applicants, driven by religious fanaticism, vanity, and a series of other dubious motives participate voluntarily in a costly appropriation process that intrudes to a great extent on their privacy.

Although it is relatively easy to become a member, Jana Gunstheimer keeps us in the dark about the organisational structure of NOVA PORTA. In this, NOVA PORTA resembles the secret societies, whose charter, objectives, and members are known only to insiders. In addition, Nova Porta is a fiction, which allows the artist to slip into several roles and to operate artistically on different levels. A good example for this is the newspaper Maßnahme (measures), which has been published by NOVA PORTA over a period of two years and distributed free of charge. In the paper, Jana Gunstheimer illustrates and comments on her chosen range of topics from different perspectives using levels of speech adapted appropriately. From critical statements to letters to the editor, all of the contributions are penned by the author herself. The newspaper photos, which look deceptively real, are reproductions of her own watercolours. On the occasion of her exhibition in the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007, a special edition of Maßnahme was published in English, which was intended to supplement the Chicago Tribune. At the last moment, the persons responsible withdrew their offer because the supplement used the documentation of newspaper reports to deal with the same issue as the exhibition Status L Phenomenon – the sudden and inexplicable decline of a noble quarter of Chicago. However, the reports were in fact newspaper pages, painted over with watercolours, which had the appearance of the New York Times, USA today or the FAZ and told of mysterious happenings. Everything was painted in watercolour and the contents were completely fictitious yet they also anticipated the discussion sparked everywhere a short time later regarding the real estate crisis, an issue that is deeply unsettling for Americans to this day.

It is the complex nature of the levels of presentation that feigns realism and generates empathy. Thus the differentiation of the levels of speech plays an important role in the current canonisation project, imbuing it with meaning. In addition to the difference in the levels of eloquence and educational background evident in the letters submitted, which make it clear that by no means only stupid people participate, academic archiving systems, concisely-written explanatory texts and newspaper reports also communicate authenticity. Jana Gunstheimer likes to satirize the partiality – cultivated in everyday political and bureaucratic working life in the GDR (but by no means only there) – for abbreviations such as PoA (Personen ohne Aufgabe), meaning “persons without function,” or SBK (Staatliche Behörde für Kanonisation), meaning “state authority for canonisation”.

Jana Gunstheimer seems to able switch roles with playful ease and in many cases one can sense a certain delight taken in fabrication, as well as black humour, (which, however, never becomes cynical), and last but not least the Dadaistic play with the absurd.

The visual works are also characterised by confusion, which, as a conceptual approach results from the interlacing of documentary and fictive materials. Watercolours, which at first glance are reminiscent of old photographs or could be confused with black-and-white images from daily newspapers, are staged in Gunstheimer’s exhibition in the style of a loving yet antiquated presentation by a local history museum, with detailed commentaries and explanatory additions. Visitors to the exhibition are taken by the hand and then led completely astray. They become lost in a mesh of facts, half-truths and fiction. Objects, pictures and whole environments become props in a piece of world theatre, which seems familiar to everyone, though it still has an open end. It is this mix of anecdotes, ideology, superstition, tradition and irrationality of which the works for the current exhibition canonisation – the last chance are made. A dangerous mix, which, as reality has shown many times, can be very explosive.

Further works by Jana Gunstheimer :
Wuerttembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart >Wild Signals< 13 September - 9 November 2008
Kunstmuseum Bonn >Dorothea von Stetten-Kunstspreis 2008< 11 December 2008 - 15 February 2009

CONRADS at Art Forum Berlin, 31 October - 3 November 2008
and PULSE Miami, Soho Studios, Wynwood District 4 - 7 >December 2008

EMILIO PEREZ at FILIALE Berlin preview on Friday 10 October 2008


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