Stella Geppert »Aufruhr.« / 2011

Stella Geppert »Aufruhr.« / 2011

frontviews gallery

19 Feb – 19 Mar 2011

solo show


Stella Geppert

Stella Geppert

exhibition text by Regine Rapp

Stella Geppert »Aufruhr.«

Life runs down – routine comes in – service is managed – uneasiness creeps in, a personal one – utility goods at hand, furnishing routine – is not just used up….but deliberately “used into pieces“ – the unexpected, the unforeseen, outbreak, turmoil, revolt ! – But: energy and action for the final freeze, conservation!!! (making it timeless, anti-turmoil, anti-revolt) becomes an object of contemplation, a sample, just a reminder of commotion , a placeholder of revolt and turmoil, an outlet for the restless. – everyday life is broken up, “played into pieces“, transformed, then tied up firmly – „play damage“ as daily operation, routine of the artist“ – the concreting of the revolt: service of the art gallery.
Go on.

Put Away, Install, Display

On the Provisional and the Processual in the Art of Stella

By Regine Rapp

Spatial Uncertainty

Stella Geppert’s artistic works are distinguished by the
phenomenon of the provisional as well as visualization
of the ephemeral. The work Parasitäre Verhältnisse und
Dialoge (Parasitic Relationships and Dialogs), 2002, is
an artistic intervention in a public space, the platform
of a Berlin underground station, touching on points of
contact that occur between people and architecture –
specifically where people linger, wait and lean. Specially
produced padding on columns and guard rails not only
made these surfaces impalpably softer for travelling city
dwellers, but they marked fleeting points of contact with
the urban location. One often has the impression in the
work of Stella Geppert that everything plays itself out on
the edge of the spatial, as if the peripheral has crept into
the centre and settled there. The interior has been turned
inside out; inner processes are made visible through a
sculptural intervention – an artistic principle that comes to
light, for example, in the installation Unabhängig von der
Lage (Independent of the Situation) 2009, in which the
artist shifted the basic spatial parameters of the Cuxhaven
Kunstverein through cuts into space and interventions,
thereby extending architectural constellations.

Furthermore, the intention of spatial uncertainty is always
remarkable in the works of Stella Geppert: from
the work Entfestigung (Defortification) 1998 – in which
the entire length of a house on Wittenberg marketplace
appeared to be filled with one single, bright red cushion
that apparently swelled out of all of the house’s open
windows – to the installation Are you there ?, 2007, where
a spatial intervention with mirrors and wooden slats in the
Künstlerhaus Bremen reactivated the provisional interim
nature of a former mattress warehouse. The perception
of spatial uncertainty and instability arises in connection
with her current work, When Destruction Becomes New
Form, 2011, which, like many previous art projects, can
be understood as a series; twelve black-edged objects
are presented on tall shelves, and form a strong contrast
to the white boards covering the walls and floor. What
appears at first glance to be miniature flying objects or
utopian architectural models turn out, on closer inspection,
to be shattered, improvised, bonded conglomerates that
evince here an unwieldy arm or there a bulky protuberance.
These sharp-edged objects are supported by different
structures, all of which are equally grotesque in their
provisional composition and contribute to an apparently
functionless functionality.

When Destruction Becomes New Form – The Provisional

Provisional (from the Latin for “provisio”, provision)
means a system established for a temporary purpose, a
transitional aid, usually being a temporary restriction of
use which is determined from the outset. In the case of
When Destruction Becomes New Form the provisional is
the programme and is designed to be a staged game of
stability versus instability.

The absurd level of staged provisionality is made especially
clear through rhetoric: an object resting on a white metal
shelf, which in turn is supported by plywood, stands on a
wooden structure connected to an inverted table, that is
fixed to thin wooden slats by means of the improvised use
of tape. Elsewhere, four long wooden boards are fixed to
the four thin black metal legs of a black plastic stool with
plastic ties instead of a seat. This tower-like structure is
topped by a black object that resembles a tentacle-like
animal (see studio view). This is not so much a grammar
of objects as it is a syntax of objects: there is a stool that
is not used as a stool, but as an extension of a rod that
serves not as a rod, but proves to be an extension of the
bracket and, finally, merges with the surface of the base
– board, shelf, glass top. The material aesthetic targets
ordinary, unused office furniture.

Last but not least, there are those twelve black objects
which, through the context of their material aesthetic
refer specifically to an orderly and bureaucratic space: the
black objects are constructed from letter trays – massproduced
consumer goods, produced with the intention of facilitating a
bureaucratic system of order. The size is made for the A4
format, which was set by the German Institute for
Standardization (DIN) in 1922 as a standard paper size, and
which today irrevocably determines, indeed manipulates, our
thinking, designing and writing.

If we think of object and space as one, then the theory of
geometric space at this point is a productive motivation:
not only does the geometric space present a seamless
continuum, it works – according to Descartes – against
all that is random, chaotic and unregulated.1 Additionally,
geometry presents humanity with two spatial layers,
“the engineered surface of the world” and the “formal
interior, which is quantifiable”.2 To apply the influence of
geometric space on human life, “incidents are truncated,
processes are interrupted (…) and events are tailored to
data and facts”.3 Whether we start from the phenomenon
of geometric space, which the Japanese philosopher Ryosuke
Ohashi refers to as a literal “averageness” in today’s
modern era, is another question.4 The considerations
noted above about geometric space, however, could be
fundamental for the artistic use of standardized paper sizes
and standardized office furniture, such as the letter trays,
as they aim at a standardization of human action space.

The creative act of the destruction of those mass-produced
letter trays in the series When Destruction Becomes New
Form can not only be understood as an ironic response
to the aestheticisation of manufactured goods – this
work looks almost like a liberating jab at the epicentre
of all things serial. The liberation of the object by the
subversive reversal of its usability also brings along the
visualization of an action itself: The black letter trays have
been treated in different ways: folded, thrown, crushed,
kicked, jumped on, hammered. The deconstruction and
decontextualisation of that which conforms, salvages a
productive instability so that the works of Stella Geppert
usually generate a questioning of institutional space. Thus
the artist, in the present work, provides a new proof of her
artistic intent – “to find and develop ways of representing
communication.” 5

Put Away, Install, Display: Situate and Put in Place

In this spatial work, Stella Geppert also creates consciously
unstable structures that are in opposition to an institutionally
inherent rigidity: “From my very nature I am a hacker”, she
explains, “when I’m actually in a space, I go after the
respective spatial and social fabric and reflect on how to bring
out the space’s inherent structures in an invisible way.” 6

The architectural intervention goes hand in hand with
the provisionality of the objects in the gallery space. The
addition of new wall and floor slabs, which were originally
used for an exhibition booth of a Berlin art fair, makes the
architectural structure of the exhibition space a central
theme. This turns the internal structural characteristics of
the space inside-out, igniting debate about the paradox
of the long-discussed white cube. In this regard, the title
When Destruction Becomes New Form can be understood
as a critical impulse with an historical reference to the
famous exhibition “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes
Become Form”, which was held in the Kunsthalle Bern in
1969, and organised by the Swiss curator Harald Szeemann.
It brought about the development of new curatorial forms:
a large number of artistic works in this exhibition, which
was significantly subtitled “Works – Concepts – Processes
– Situations – Information”, were deliberately created by
the artists in situ and in relation to the (exhibition) space.

The German word “verorten” is equivalent to the English
“to situate”. It is closely related to the word “situation”, and
not irrelevant to the artistic practice of Stella Geppert; she
creates situations through the transformation of old forms
and their change into new ones. As the artist discovers
both space in the object and a sculptural potency in space,
the following statement is quite apt: “I consider space
something that is constantly on the move and constantly
re-configuring itself. Even when I’m actually working with
it, I examine it over and above its physical materiality.” 7
The unexpected mise-en-scwène of once functional, now
destroyed objects on improvised pedestals that makes up
the series When Destruction Becomes New Form refers,
ultimately, to the widely debated topic of exhibiting. Put
away, install, display – the white cube in the series When
Destruction Becomes New Form, doubling the space with
its construction of new walls and floors, seems to lead into
the void while subjecting the classical pedestal to parody.

1) Franz Xaver Baier: Der Raum. Köln 2000, p.14 ff
2) Gosztony, Alexander: Der Raum: Geschichte seiner Probleme in
Philosophie und Wissenschaft. Freiburg/ München 1976, p.123
3) Xaver 2000, p.14
4) Ryosuke Ohashi, Kire: Das “Schöne” in Japan. Köln 1994
5) Stella Geppert in coversation with the author, Berlin, January, 2011
6) Ibid.
7) Enter and Change, Stella Geppert in an Interview with
Stefanie Böttcher, in: Stella Geppert: Unabhängig von der Lage.
Exhibition catalog Cuxhavener Kunstverein 2010, p. 4.