The “Realistic Manifesto” by Antoine Pevsner and Naum Gabo was written in 1920. The term Tektonika refers here to a dynamic, abstract geometrical and ideal formal language. It also refers to a dynamic energy that moves tectonic plates, reverses the concept of above and below and disrupts datum points.
The exhibition Tektonika picks up these ideas and showcases two artistic positions – Barbara Kasten and the Magicgruppe Kulturobjekt – that revolve around the tension between instability and stability, between the whole and its fragmentation. At what point can a form or a space be defined? At what point can one differentiate a form or a space? At what point can the eye no longer see a space? It is possible to see this ambivalence between construction and deconstruction that demands a different interpretation of space both in Barbara Kasten’s photography and the installation and working processes of the artist collective Magicgruppe Kulturobjekt.
After her first experiments with light and shade which can be seen in her photograms and cyanotypes from the 1970s, Barbara Kasten (b.1936 lives and works in Chicago) has developed an extended and more complex dimension of the perception of space in her series Constructs (1979-83), which is being shown at the Kunstverein. The artist has staged a series of sets for this out of a combination of simple forms and materials, such as glass, Plexiglas, metal or mirrors, and then photographed them. The resulting spatial settings comprising geometrical forms, broken light, the texture of the materials, shifts in perspective, permeability or reflections, allow the viewer’s eye to oscillate between graphic surfaces, geometrical composition and three-dimensional perspective. She has also continued to work upon the shifting of viewpoint and the change of perspective in the works from Architectural Sites (1986-89) directly in public space: with the help of a team, she has broken up, i.e. deconstructed the architecture in various chosen places through the inclusion of mirrors and the use of coloured light projections. The space that one thinks one recognises is thus completely dematerialised; the images move here between image, object and plane.
Similarly, the Magicgruppe Kulturobjekt also opposes an unequivocal stability in their very working method. Depending upon respective planned project, they work with a different number and combination of artists. Artists taking participating in the Kunstverein show: Nadja Athanassowa, Michael Dobrindt, Sonja Engelhardt, Marie Gerlach, Markus Hahn, Stef Heidhues, Marcel Hiller, Roland Kollnitz, Tamara Lorenz and Sebastian Walther.
The Magicgruppe Kulturobjekt develops its work on site and in a direct reaction to the spaces and the artists in the group themselves. Therefore the staging does not derive from a prearranged concept, or planable arrangement and duly expresses itself as a collective construct, the shape of which takes on a spatial temporary form. Diverse materials are staged in new ways on site. The properties, arrangement and accumulation of the material are choreographed to a point where distortions and visual interleaving subvert conditioned assumptions of space. The resulting spatial narrative leads to a sculptural course around the exhibition in which different visual games and suggested dynamic processes can be discovered.
Both the constructed settings in the work of Barbara Kasten and the experimental deconstructive installations of Magicgruppe confuse our perception of the shapes and the functions of objects and spaces: architecture, surfaces and materiality seem to dissolve into one another and transform themselves into a idiosyncratic, constructive, palpable form.