This time in our series of reviews we visit Katharina Grosse’s digitized exhibition through a three-dimensional model created by Walter’s Cube. This technological innovation lets the visitors enjoy the artworks in a proportionally scaled digital twinspace in real time, where walking around and interacting grows into an immersive experience thanks to the Online Viewing Room.
Perceiving the world around us is a mental task as it does not happen in our physical senses. We get information from seeing, from hearing, from smelling, from touching, but that information does not have any meaning to us until we process it – and by process we have to imagine a stream of thought that finds patterns in that information. From patterns we form structures to construe a meaning to everything we sensed – whether that meaning is inherent or not doesn’t matter as we are not necessarily looking for the truth during this process, just fighting against the unintelligible chaos the world appears to be.
As this might seem obscure, we usually say things like this about complicated and metaphysical dilemmas such as the meaning of life or the individual’s place in the universe. But the theory works on a smaller and more palpable scale too, like what is the meaning of an institution or where’s the place of an artist in the art world.
These weren’t exactly the questions Katharina Grosse asked in her larger than life, in-situ painting titled It Wasn’t Us that was created for and in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, but they could be answered through it as the abstract and expansive splashes of colors bring many associations into play. The Bahnhof becomes a playground for the artist and for the viewer, because Grosse never takes herself too seriously while she conquers walls, floors, ceilings, and objects with vibrant paint. Even the doors can’t stop her: the painting continues from the Historic Hall to the public space behind the museum – her movement flows with her strokes, it melts away the difference between up and down, left and right, inside and outside.
This more or less answers the second question. The artist doesn’t have a designated place in the art world as every place is hers, since it’s in the nature of an artwork to appropriate any space or context it’s inserted into. This makes the artwork and through that the artist the pulsating heart of the art world, as no boundary is being accepted, not because the artist is disrespectful, but because circumstances out of her reach force her hand.
The institution might be a building in the first place that provides a frame to art, which can be manipulated by architectural sculptures, but it’s a two-way street: Grosse destabilizes the usual order of a museum, but the grounds of the museum draw lines she must acknowledge. The creative process is unpredictable not only because the artist has free will, but also because she has to react to unforeseen obstructions.
The pervasion between horizons results in a shift the viewer rather feels than understands: the point of view radically changes with every step, paths of interpretation cross each other. The artificially emerged order and structure we are familiar with in institutions fall back into artistic chaos that resembles the uninterpreted universe – which is overwhelming and empowering at the same time. Without the guidelines it’s up to us to find the angle we like the best.