“Planet Venus in Full Daylight” at BQ Galerie, Berlin

By Last Updated: April 7, 2024Views: 47

On the centre of the exhibition “Planet Venus in Full Daylight” are two early works by the German conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten, in dialogue with works by 4 BQ gallery artists: Jochen Lempert, Cathy Wilkes, Mara Wohnhaas and Richard Wright. The important thing concepts that may be traced within the exhibition are, firstly, an in depth commentary of lived actuality and, secondly, an curiosity in probing the boundaries of illustration. The exhibition title is derived from French anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Delusion and That means (1978), wherein he discusses how the sensory perceptions of historical peoples held validity and insights that trendy Western civilization has misplaced. Lévi-Strauss discovered that these extra attuned and perceptive to the pure world, equivalent to tribespeople or sailors of previous, had been completely capable of see the planet Venus in full daylight—as might present-day individuals “if [they] had a educated eye.” 1

Lothar Baumgarten (b. 1948, Rheinsberg; d. 2018, Berlin) was the son of an ethnographer who launched him to comparative cultural research. His burgeoning creative observe was formed by ethnographic and anthropological strategies, significantly the structuralist analyses of Lévi-Strauss and his recognition of the constraints of Western thought patterns. Within the late Nineteen Sixties, Baumgarten studied beneath Joseph Beuys on the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, the place he additional explored “the various ranges that can not be restricted to rational evaluation” 2 and developed his distinctive visible language expressed via images, drawings, sculptures, installations, slide projections, movies, and texts. These early works anticipated his subsequent South American area work, when for a interval of eighteen months through the years 1978–80 he lived among the many Yãnomãmi individuals within the Amazon.

Moskitos (1969) is a flock of 18 winged creatures, long-established from miniature loaves of bread and customary pigeon feathers. Pigeons had been first domesticated 10,000 years in the past, because of their worth as meals and as messengers, though immediately they’re often considered as pests. Bread has a fair longer historical past, with the primary proof of bread making (utilizing wild wheat) discovered amongst Natufian hunter-gatherers who lived 14,400 years in the past in Jordan. 3 Baumgarten’s title Moskitos factors to the small flies which have advanced for the reason that Early Cretaceous Interval to turn into each micropredators and vectors of lethal ailments equivalent to malaria, dengue and yellow fever. 4 Right here, Baumgarten duties the viewer with a puzzle regarding meals, domesticity, parasitical relationships and the experience of historical peoples with “fantastically exact data of their atmosphere and all their assets.” 5

The second Baumgarten work included within the exhibition is the slide projection Eine Reise oder ‘Mit der MS Remscheid auf dem Amazonas’/ Der Bericht einer Reise unter den Sternen des Kühlschranks (1968–71), which mixes photos of Baumgarten’s early ephemeral sculptures, interspersed with images and textual content regarding German ethnologist and explorer Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Italian photographer and ethnologist Guido Boggiani, each of whom studied indigenous individuals in South America on the flip of the nineteenth century. Koch-Grünberg tried to guard himself from malaria by taking quinine 6 however he succumbed to the illness on a 1924 expedition to Brazil, aged 52. Boggiani additionally met an early loss of life in 1901 aged simply 41, when he was ritually killed in Paraguay by the Tumrahá, who (it was alleged) related his images with witchcraft. 7

Jochen Lempert (b. 1958, Moers) is a biologist by coaching whose handprinted 35mm black-and-white images give disorientating views of the interrelations of the human and pure world. By encouraging a extra attentive method of discerning correlations between people, crops and animals, Lempert’s haunting views “attain extra knowledge than we predict we’re able to.” 8

Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Belfast) makes sculptural installations incorporating work, works on paper and on a regular basis objects that draw to the floor the qualitative side of actuality. Lately she has made a sequence of silk and linen panels primed with gum arabic and painted with pigments, created via a course of which “looks like steady preparation, after which ultimately recognition after I see it.”

Like Lothar Baumgarten earlier than her, Mara Wohnhaas (b. 1997, Karlsruhe) is a scholar at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Her creating observe revolves round sculptural constructions and installations. Her work on this exhibition is a wall object paying homage to a e-book or a constructing (each containers for data) and impressed each by structure and the processes of bookbinding.

Richard Wright (b. 1960, London) makes wall drawings of various scale and complexity in direct and delicate response to the areas wherein they’re produced. 9 For this exhibition, Wright has recreated a piece from 2000: the phrase METHOD in illuminated script. He explains, “The work is sort of a worn step, it is sort of a smoke detector, it’s even like an image, however it’s much more just like the areas between the letters of phrases.” 10

The examine of cognitive processes, that started with Aristotle and descended by way of Aquinas to Descartes, noticed emotional expressions as vestiges of patterns of actions now we have lengthy advanced past. 11 It was ethnologists equivalent to Lévi-Strauss that emphasised that people are usually not purely rational. However via cautious acts of trying, it’s nonetheless doable to witness what Walter Benjamin described because the pure sensuous correspondences that predated language. 12

—Sarah Lowndes

at BQ Galerie, Berlin
till April 13, 2024

1    Claude Lévi-Strauss, Delusion and That means (New York: Schocken Books, 1978), 18.
2    Lucrezia De Dominizio Durini, The Felt Hat: Joseph Beuys A Life Informed (Milan: Charta, 1997), 34.
3    Amaia Arranz-Otaegui et al. , “Archaeobotanical proof reveals the origins of bread 14,400 years in the past in northeastern Jordan,” Anthropology 115:31 (July 16, 2018): 7925–7930.
4    Dany Azur et al., “The earliest fossil mosquito,” Present Biology 33:23 (December 4, 2023):, 5240–5246.
5    Lévi-Strauss, Delusion and That means, 19.
6    Theodor Koch-Grünberg, Vom Roraima zum Orinoco. Ergebnisse einer Reise in Nordbrasilien und Venezuela in den Jahren 1911–1913 (Stuttgart: Strecker und Schröder, 1916), 88.
7    Heather F. Curler, “On the Verge of Whole Extinction? From Guaikurú to Kadiwéu in Nineteenth Century Brazil,” Ethnohistory 65:4 (2018): 647–670.
8    Lévi-Strauss, Delusion and That means, 24.
9    Martin Clark, “Course of and Actuality,” in Richard Wright (New York: Gagosian, 2023), 227.
10    Adam Szymzcyk, “In Dialog with Richard Wright,” in Richard Wright (Düsseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 2002), 57.
11    Peter G. Coleman and Ann O’Hanlon, Getting old and Growth: Social and Emotional Views (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), chapter 6.
12    Walter Benjamin, “The Mimetic College,” in Reflections (New York: Schocken Books, 1933), 336.


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