Sebastian Klemm and Silvia Bonsiepe founded KLEMM’S as a gallery for contemporary art in 2007. They represent artists from different generations, cultural backgrounds and media whose work is linked by a shared interest in the transformation of experienced reality and who engage with social realities in combination with an aesthetic consciousness.
It is important for Klemm’s to support and accompany the artists through the early stages of their development and steadily foster their development and careers in a progressive international context. In conceiving the program, it is essential for them to offer the artists a platform that allows their conceptual approaches to unfold individually and also to reflect upon and enhance each other.
Fascinated by the printed word, concrete poetry, and the beauty of language permeating our daily lives, the American artist Erica Baum could be best described as a “poet-photographer”. She has become internationally known for her photographic practice based on found texts and images. With her reflected, nonchalant use of strategies akin to the work of the Pictures Gene- ration, conceptual art, and minimalism, Erica Baum has developed a unique and truly authentic visual language. For two decades now, her enigmatic close-ups of books, newspapers, and other printed matter have been investigating the nature, traditions, and essences of the photographic, steadily "re-materializing" its visual, haptic and thematic qualities.
Erica Baum's works are “photographic” in a very specific fashion: alongside the fleeting and ephemeral quality of the constant flow of images on display, she places an object-like presence and a precise interest in the material context of photography. By developing her series of pictures in direct close-ups, focused on surprising details with a shallow depth of field, she evokes a poetic power: indexically precise and at the same time abstract and trans-temporal like a collage, fragmentary and yet possessing a narrative power; seemingly everyday, trivial, and at the same time charged. Baum’s pictures are emotional in a special sense – they have a soul and demand most careful attention. They question and confirm in very fundamental ways: text, image, writing – their message, significance and use — an understanding of the essence of our culture. “Baum finds both grace and absurdity in visual language—words slip between their meaning and material presence, and textual artifacts take on the beautiful strangeness of cave paintings.“ (Rajesh Parameswaran, BOMB Magazine, 2020).
“What interests me are the juxtapositions and sense of history derived from the words themselves even without knowing everything. I want to give you a sense of a particular environment but not in its entirety. The view is oblique and re-contextualized. In this close up immersive situation the viewer can retain a level of awareness, just enough to inform but also to allow a different visual and semantic experience to take hold. The source is familiar and recognizable but the experience is new. It is that tension between something that we recognize, that we routinely encounter and the fact that we can look at it in a different way that creates a strangeness, a difference in which exist multiple possibilities.“ (Erica Baum, 2020).
Erica Baum (born in New York, 1961) received a BA in anthropology from Barnard in 1984 and an MFA from Yale University in 1994. Recent museum exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY ; Face à face, Frac île-de-france, Campus de Villetaneuse; The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Lever le voile, Frac île-de-france, Paris; Photo- Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include A Long Dress, Bureau, New York; Naked Eye Nature Morte, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris; AAa:Quien, Erica Baum & Libby Rothfeld, Bureau, New York; The Following Information, Bureau, New York; Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris. Selected biennials include; AGORA 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, 2013 and the 30th Bienal de São Paulo: The Imminence of Poetics, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012.Her work is held in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.
In her series Patterns, photographs are taken from guidelines and booklets made for the home tailor. Drawing a line between the “dictate” of fashion and the language of sewing patterns, Baum lets the words resonate on their own, freed from the canvas of a sentence.
Visual information is here quite literally layered, the signs and lines, word fragments and figures on the various sides appear over and next to one another. On a yellow-patinated foundation and against a backdrop of faded blues, reds, and blacks, a rhythmic play of instructions, a multilingual fashion vocabulary, and freely hovering body silhouettes develops. Somewhere between technical drawing, geometric diagrams, and a minimalist sketch book.
Striking in Patterns is the division into larger formats and smaller, almost serialistic images. The latter, with their reduced drawing and textual components, set the tone for the abstract visual language and the concentrated rhythm of the work group. The outlines of the figures thus are all the more remarkable in the visual space of the larger, subtly composed tableaus. With their posture, gestures, and facial expressions, these de-humanized mannequins and strangely inanimate subjects seem confident and entirely autonomous. Framed by patterns and sewing instructions, a different form of legibility comes to the fore.
Erica Baum inscribes her current images with a weightlessness, which already on second glance suggests a deeper, critical interest. The alienation of maker and product in our world of commodities and the role of the invisible labor force in the sweatshops of global competition come to mind, alongside questions of gender stereotypes, control and still prevalent power relations. By trusting the visual finesse and openness of her images, Baum succeeds in making various layers of this critical context palpable. Creating a stark contrast with the primary function of those manuals, which were actually aimed at “controlling” the body through arrangements, lines and cuts, they are now transcended into vessels for a much wider conversation.
In the Naked Eye series, Baum photographs old softcovers from the side, choosing to show their pages rather than the spines, and fanning the pages out to create mysterious chance juxtapositions. Words appear sliced or foreshorte- ned, giving way to flattened strips of images—film starlets, clouds, fragments of buildings—that, as in Amnesia (2009), are sandwiched between the rippling and vividly dyed edges of surrounding pages. Bereft of caption and context, the- se illustrations take over the role of displaced signifier previously held by catalog keywords like daggers and cloaks.
Digging through old books on cinema for works like Flint (2009) and Clara (2013), Baum selects anonymous figures who either cast oblique glances off the frame of the page or seem poised for the gaze. Leaving their narratives neces- sarily unresolved, she spins a web of longing that resonates with her own attraction to the source material. Through these open-ended investigations Baum honors the tradition of print—that textured, tangible objectification of language that inexorably fades with each passing year.
Viktoria Binschtok traces in her photographic work the idea of visibility. By deferring the context in interesting ways she raises questions about which contents are transported within clearly defined image borders and which ones – based on our common knowledge – surpass them. Binschtok refers equally to images taken from media sources such as the Internet as well as images taken by herself in order to discuss their function and representation. Following her intuition she seeks and finds symmetries of collective behavior patterns of everyday life, whose existence otherwise seems to go unnoticed. One crucial aspect of her artistic work is to recognize ritualized actions of human beings. Only by the subjective sequencing of single observations to a series contexts reveal that all of a sudden render meaning to ostensibly trivial situations.
Her most recent series of “networked images” are physical echoes of the image flow produced by our digitally connected world. In her photographic sculptures, the artist deals with the phenomenon of today’s image economy: the intangibility of image data, our ever-shortening attention span, and the simultaneous power and immediacy of consumed pictures. The artist links the momentary images to their staged reproductions in a photo- graphic symbiosis. “Screen time and offline time often switch back and forth in our everyday life. Our gaze jumps between information on the mobile device and in the environment in which we are physically, at that moment. I try to simulate this visual experience. Therefore, I combine my own photographs taken in the physical world with found online images, which I appropriate by re-creating them in my studio“ says the artist.
Her works become part of the larger net that Binschtok consciously casts over divergent visualities—instead of tapping into a single genre or subject, she diss- ects the vastness of our daily digital image production, one piece at a time. The precise layering of her works generates visual connections with both subtle and apparent references to current realities—immaterial concepts thus take physical shape, compelling us to, once again, ruminate our algorithmic-driven present.
Viktoria Binschtok (b. 1972, Moscow) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Her works have been presented both in numerous solo and group exhibitions, in recent years a.o. at Weserburg Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; Centre Pompidou NMAC, Paris; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; C/O Berlin; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy; Centre de la Photographie Genève, Switzerland; pier24, San Francisco, USA; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Centre Pompidou, Metz, France; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main; Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg; Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia, The Krasnoyarsk Museum Center, Siberia; Kunstverein Göttingen; Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.
Viktoria Binschtok‘s series of Networked Images are physical echoes of the image flow produced by our digitally connected world. In a departure from her signature Clusters—image selections based on a purely visual order—Binschtok now reasserts her authorial role in the creative process.
In her photographic sculptures, the artist deals with the phenomenon of today’s image economy: the intangibility of image data, our ever-shortening attention span, and the simultaneous power and immediacy of consumed pictures. The artist links the momentary images to their staged reproductions in a photographic symbiosis.
Her works become part of the larger net that Binschtok consciously casts over divergent visualities—instead of tapping into a single genre or subject, she dissects the vastness of our daily digital image production, one piece at a time. The precise layering of her works generates visual connections with both subtle and apparent references to current realities—immaterial concepts thus take physical shape, compelling us to, once again, ruminate our algorithmic-driven present.
Ulrich Gebert examines in his metaphoric image-cycles and installations the relation of human beings to their environment, in particular to nature – whether civilized or untouched. However, he does not pursue the ‘romantic’ idea of a reunication between culture and nature but rather creates in form and content a background that critically questions our living conditions. The question is, “How does the individual or society inscribe into the habitat?” His approach combines an occasionally humorous enthusiasm for the subject with a rather critical and distanced view of the interested observer. His works prove how humans reveal insights into their very own being through their intercourse with nature, i.e. with animals and plants.
Order, hierarchy, power structures, categorization, functionalization and instrumentalization are the terms that play a vital role here. Ulrich Gebert's images which provide this information and which convey something that is hard to be translated into language. His approach conates an almost scientic inquisitiveness with subjective auxesis and a precise intensi cation of the respective subject. In his series Negotiated Order (2012), Life among Beasts (2011), and earlier Soft Land (2007) and Typus (2005) he selects from the variety of photographic possibilities and chooses forms of depiction according to the context, be it documentary, scenic, still life or based on found material. At first sight the viewer encounters an unusual composition of partial forms and abstract information that are arranged in loose tableaus. In trying to order it according to existing categories the visual familiarization process gradually reveals the formal and conceptual coherences. The result, however, is disturbing and hardly accords to what one has expected or maybe wished for. Impressions of drastic brutality alternate with awkward tenderness and absurd humor.
His installations and sculptural works consequently convey this atmosphere into the space. The wooden objects and architectures of antiquarian animal cages (Beastly Buildings, 2011) or oddly shaped birdcages (Your Obdeiant Servant, 2012) refer only rudimentarily to their original purpose as animal housings – they rather seem to be located somewhere between ‘rec room,’ Heimat lm (German sentimental lm with regional background) and high-rise bunker.
The idea of the model discloses in the abstraction of these wall-tableaus and ‘architectural landscapes’: it is about ‘the world in a nutshell,' understanding the wild, collecting and exhibiting, and at last it is about taking control. Inherent to these ‘microcosms’ – and in the same manner in the tableaus on the wall – is a gesture of violent appropriation in the sense of cultivation and categorization.
“All aspects of the relationship between human mankind and nature solidify behind the bars of an animal cage: repulsion and fascination, the will for appropriation, control and knowledge, the gradual acknowledgement of the complexity and idiosyncrasy of different life forms and much more. The microcosm of the zoo herewith stands in close relation to the history of other modern phenomena such as colonization, ethnocentrism and the discovery of the Other, the civilization of men, the development of cultural and commemoration sites like museums, or the development of leisure time. The gaze at the animal cage hence allows us to comprehend an entire society.”
E. Baratay und E. Hardouin-Fugier: Zoo - Von der Menagerie zum Tierpark, Wagenbach, Berlin 2000
Ulrich Gebert (b. 1976, Munich) studied at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig, class of Prof. Timm Rautert. His works have recently been shown a.o. at Kunst und Kulturstiftung Opelvillen Rüsselsheim, Rüsselsheim (2020); Fondazione Mast, Bologna (2018); Kunstverein Kassel, Kassel (2016) Lothringer13 Halle, Munich (2016); Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, USA; Museum Folkwang Essen (2014); Collection of the State of Saxony, Dresden (2013); MACRO, Rome, Italy; DZ Bank collection, Frankfurt a. Main (2102); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main; Kunsthaus Baselland (2011); Museum for Fine Arts, Leipzig" (2011), 7. Biennale of Photography, Liège, Belgium (2010).
In his body of work UR (2014) Ulrich Gebert deals with terms of reconstruction, authenticity and the question of the original tied to the longing for a reliable and tangible (ur-) state of being. It equally addresses the human reflex of ascribing, projecting and augmenting as ideas and clichés of an untouched idyllic nature.
For this series Gebert has observed a herd of rebred aurochs on the Bavarian island of Wörth in lake Staffelsee, picturing the cattle as a site of tabula rasa and “incarnated monument for human empowerment phantasies” (Ulrich Gebert). Based on an in-depth research of the historical topic on the rebreeding attempts for the aurochs that the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck started in the late 1920s, the discussion reveals parallels to current discourses in cultural theory in spite of the time distance to this political period. It addresses not only the tension between nature and artificiality but also the symbiosis of the allegedly natural and its disclosure as a cultural construct. The subject of the aurochs as ur-image in its most literal sense looks back to a thousand year old tradition, the cave paintings of Lascaux and Chauvet being its testimonials. And yet, there is no faithful depiction of it known to us. Breeding programs as in landscaped grazing projects can only convey an idea of how the extinct Ur-cattle once looked. But still, the black/white photographs of Gebert evoke an unassailable moment of authenticity: at once heroic and yet somehow intimate they almost develop a portrait-like presence with a tint of melancholy.
Only at a second look the entire potential for interpretation of the works reveals and the observer realizes in reflection the power of his/her own view. This realization, however, is interrupted a second time by the loosely inserted series of quasi-documentary ‘interfering images’ and text that at first suggest a historic-scientific context: but is it comment or source, real historical document or fake?
Ulrich Gebert has the actual subject of the images and objects, i.e. the animal as a being to be domesticated or as faithful companion, appear only in strong alteration or not at all. Like an invisible replacement character it reveals even more articulately the oftentimes absurd and always to be questioned character of human thinking and action. The effect of the series of works A Breed Apart derives from the conscious use of crude aesthetics and well-directed psychological charging. Profound humor, a compassionate perspective and the love for detail are essential parameters here.