Nathalie Grenzhaeuser Gezeiten

Press Release

Opening reception: Friday, May 1, 2015 from 6 to 9pm
Exhibition trough July 11, 2015
BERLIN GALLERY WEEKEND: extended opening hours Sat May 2 to Mon May 4: 11am – 6pm 

Nathalie Grenzhaeuser works in areas which one could at first call peripheral zones on the current geopolitical world map. One such place is Spitzbergen, which stands under Norwegian sovereignty and is in the archipelago of the same name north of the polar circle. The artist has travelled there three times, and during her last visit in 2009 primarily photographed Pyramida, a coal mining settlement given up by the Russians in 1998 which has meanwhile become a ghost town that one can visit virtually on the internet.

Another island situated somewhat outside political attention for a long time is Cuba. The socialist state lies in the Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean. Here in 2013, Grenzhaeuser concentrated mainly on the Cuban province of Guantanamo, which is often equated with the American prison camp, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Entry to this is also forbidden to civilians, making it a ghost town in the figurative sense – perhaps the world's most famous.

The confrontation with both places comes from the artist's engagement with large-scale architectural and industrial projects resulting from lofty aims, which react to extreme conditions and generate their own hypertrophic form. Examples are her series on the postmodern office area of La Défense in metropolitan Paris (2001) and on mining sites in the Australian desert (2008-2011). Even here, these witnesses of civilisation processes appear in Grenzhaeuser's photographic images to be strangely fragile and questionable, in spite of their monumentality and technical superiority.

In the series, Pyramida and La Marea (The Flood), her sculptural worlds change into spaces of emptiness and transitoriness in which time appears to stand still. Against the background of rapid global, political and economic change, these peripheral areas appear anachronistic. In graphic comparisons, the artist uses the phase of their ostensible rest and seeks connections and forces which point to their possible future.

A common characteristic of Pyramida and Cuba lies in their socialist history, which is still present in Cuba today. In both series, Lenin monuments act as ideological mega-signs. The few remaining monuments in the world to the leader of the Russian October Revolution are reminders – 25 years after the collapse of the socialist political system – of the political vision of rewriting history through revolution and altered power relations. At the same time they symbolise the survivor of a historic period. Nathalie Grenzhaeuser spans these theoretical spaces between utopia and its failure when she shows the bust of Lenin in lost profile on the empty square in front of the backdrop of the mountain panorama, or as a striking form s!imilar to rock that symbolises longevity and yet slowly weathers.