ROOM XVII

13th – 30th September 2018

 

Berlin Art Week – open 22nd – 30th September 12.00 – 18.00

 

Curated by Thomas Henriksson and Oliver Mark

Exhibitions -Werkhalle Wiesenburg Berlin - Raum XVII

Room XVII

Housed within the Gemaeldegalerie Berlin you will find a room, numbered XVII. Noteworthy for its layout and conception, this room features works by eleven 16th-17th century Italian artists, ten male and one female named Sofonisba Anguissola (*circa 1531/1532 in Cremona; † 16. November 1625 in Palermo). In contemporary response to this room, Werkhalle Wiesenburg is pleased to present abstract works by ten female and one male artist.

Olivia Berckemeyer | Maria Brunner | Sabine Groß | Isa Melsheimer | Sonja Ofen | Hannah Regenberg | Sophia Schama | Sibylle Springer | Aiko Tezuka | Michaela Zimmer | Florin Kompatscher

Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.” Virginia Woolf

Sometimes it is easy to view history as if written in stone, a set of impermeable truths that over time form the pillars of our belief system and our identity. It is how as people we define what we are and our place in the world, but all histories tell one side of a story, and are subject to editing, revision, and omission. As Mark Twain wrote, “The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice”. History is thus like any material that can be composed, shaped and interwoven.

Room XVII seeks to unravel such linear readings and takes as its starting point a single room within the Gemäldegalerie collection in Berlin, which since its inception in 1830 has had an integral role in the framing of German art and art history. Noteworthy for its layout and conception, Room XVII features works by eleven 16th-17th century Italian artists, ten male and one female named Sofonisba Anguissola (*circa 1531/1532 in Cremona; † 16. Nov 1625 in Palermo).

Anguissola set a precedent for women to be accepted as students of art, but her education differed from her male counterparts in that she was not allowed to study anatomy or view nudes that would enable her to undertake large-scale historical painting. Such restrictions have meant the visualisation of history has been interpreted through a distinctly male gaze, but Anguissola’s rise to the rank of official court painter to the King Philip II of Spain was an early challenge to the male hegemony of the art world that arguably still pervades today.

In the Werkhalle Wiesenburg the tables have been turned, and in the reconstituted space artworks from one male and ten female artists combine to form a contemporary response to Room XVII that seeks to unpick the systems of architectural, historical and aesthetic structures that underpin our reading of history and confront its definition through the framing of culture.

Working across media from paint, ink and plastic to tapestry and bronze castings, this collection of artefacts is subtly interwoven to create a new fabric in which the male gaze is inverted, eroded and deflated. What was impervious is now exposed, certainties replaced with fragility, and linear readings unravelled and reworked leaving subtle traces that allude to the threads of history. The underlying message is that we must always seek to question the frames that surround us.

Alfred Camp 2018

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