3 Months Later
Nora Schultz & Mirjam Thomann
July 24 - September 25, 2022
Cover: Richard Najorka
July 24 - September 25 2022
Opening: July 23, 7pm
The artists Nora Schultz and Mirjam Thomann share a methodical interest in the material, architectural and cultural properties of spaces. Their sculptures do not remain external to the architecture of the monastic ruins, but rather intervene in its workings and involve the visitors in processes of positioning and reorientation. Schultz and Thomann activate spaces and cultivate a sense of the porosity and movement in the historically resonant space of Klosterruine.
Credit: Eric Bell
3 MONTHS LATER EIGHT WEEKS LONG
As much as Klosterruine seems to be a place of history, it appears too porous to actually hold a place in history. If anything, its ruinous and readily romanticized theatricality cannot but render history a sign. Which is not to say, that time is not of essence here. 3 Months Later, and it is time for the exhibition. The difference between now and then, three months ago, figures as a moment the length of the exhibition’s duration, 3 Months Later eight weeks long. This is a moment in which some things are found and some things emerge, their indistinguishability only a matter of time.
Each minute of the day was spent making the same gestures of the arms: lift, swing, deposit, lift swing deposit, tape lift drop and push. He gets lost in himself the same way I do at some point I forget I’m in a vehicle, much less driving. After years of this work he begins to dream of the cans sitting packed away in the vast recesses of the warehouse waiting. He slowly developed the sense that each can contained a life, each breathing in forty-eight rhythms to a carton, thirty-six cartons to a palette, thousands and thousands of palettes. And the combined sounds of all that consciousness waiting and waiting in the stillness of those dim buildings woke him up some nights tangled among the bedsheets laden with sweat. (David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives, 28)
Imagine approaching a building except neither you nor the building are happening now. In their discrete eventfulness, Thomann’s and Schultz’s sculptural interventions have a way of coinciding. It is not guaranteed, of course. No such guarantee exists, as is true with all encounters. These are sculptures that stay as close as possible to the conditions of their emergence, a necessarily contingent process in which a building is a brick at risk of falling.
That is why distances matter and Mirjam Thomann returns their matter to them. Her salt bricks add a glistening layer to the most ubiquitous of all materials at Klosterruine. Exposed to rain and heat, the three sculptures, a column, a window and a step, risk deteriorating, exposing the kind of relationship to time that is ordinarily disguised by our limited perception of all things seemingly set in stone. Salt of course is a curious stone. As a cubic crystal system, it suggests a structural grammar growing over millions of years deep in the mountain. Their fleshly colored tender- ness evokes a corporeal sensibility that belongs as much to the material as it does to the approaching body. Mined in Pakistan, Thomann accounts for their complicated value by arranging exactly 1000 bricks into an efficient force field of light, weight and color, producing a kind of space acutely animated by the conditions of its material, bodily and institutional production. Loosely stacked, the temporary arrangements underpin an alternative architectural imagination beyond totality and eternity. As usual, Thomann avoids the crowded center, emphasizing its emptiness, instead she attends to the sides, peripheral and liminal zones, where contact is made, difference established and laboriously maintained.
Nora Schultz has chosen multiple points of access into the spatial and temporal texture of Klosterruine. Her works become sculptures only by virtue of their proposed relation to the elements which they absorb and transcribe. An inserted glass construction in a former window adds a diagonal to the otherwise vertical vortex of the polygon. Attached is a contact microphone that captures the vibrations of the glass caused by the surrounding sounds, amplifying what the glass “hears”. While sound waves are usually transmitted through air, here they are mediated through the materiality of the glass. This is a sound that has actual weight to it and that momentarily erodes the difference between material and immaterial space. Pebbles magnified by a thick glass lens placed on top, recall the outliers placed near the entrance as part of Manuel Raeder ́s guidance system, as well as the ones found in front of the Klosterruine. Their origin unknown, these outliers complete a series of public art works that clock the changing projections on Klosterruine. A single beam of blackened pine entitled Lucia’s Four Roads appears like an outlier too, but of a dimensional kind. Although reminiscent of a minimalist artifact, it manifests in fact an ongoing, diagonally perspectival relationship to the smaller original. The diagonal reappears as a line that traverses both actual and virtual space, a line of thought whose length is determined by the proximity of ideas and the density of glass, wood, stone and paper.
Once, years ago, in a warehouse along the Hudson River, I wrote on an abandoned wall about a man who flew a single-prop airplane out over the ocean until it ran out of gas, and I envied the man so much it hurt. That was years ago; does that mean up until now I have been living on borrowed time? Should I count backwards like the Mayans so that I never get older? Will the moon in the sky listen to my whispers as I count away? (David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives, 255)
Imagine approaching a building except neither you nor the building are happening now. But when you do not coincide with the present, where do you go? Nora asked.
It is getting dark somewhere and Mirjam showed us a picture of a Brancusi statue, carefully wrapped for the night in a fitted sheath.
The time of 3 Months Later is now, allowing for the kind of encounters that gently puncture an overdetermined present. But in between and afterwards, Schultz’s and Thomann’s sculptures are still there, only somewhere else. Never disavowing absence for presence, they appear tethered to a space of teeming materiality, forever sidestepping the present, a space we tried calling night.
Nora Schultz often develops large installations that involve and re-code the venue’s structure and sometimes project beyond its confines. By working with temporal structures, language and recording systems, everyday objects and cultural displacements, her work extends an ordinary understanding of the sculptural process. The observation and critical activation of the space or structure in which her work takes place are not only key elements in her art-making process but additional visible dimensions of her sculptural work.
Nora Schultz earned her degree from Städelschule, Frankfurt, in 2005 and has also studied at the MFA program at Bard College, NY. Recent solo exhibitions include O-Ton and the O-Ton at O-Town House, Los Angeles, Two-Chambered Ears at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, (both 2021) and would you say this is the day? at Secession, Vienna (2019). She realized solo performances at The Whitney Museum, NY and at Tate Modern, London and took part in Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2017. Schultz currently lives and works in Vienna, where she teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts.
Mirjam Thomann is interested in reflecting on and transcending architectural, social and institutional orders with the means of sculpture, installation, and text. In her works, she uses what is at hand at a certain site as an impetus, as material, space, and terrain, which she expands, supplements or comments on. This activation of what is there is combined with features such as reusability, combinability and movability of materials and fixtures.
Mirjam Thomann lives in Berlin and studied fine arts at Kingston University of London and the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. Her last solo exhibition "Theory & Action" was shown in 2022 at Galerie Nagel Draxler, Cologne. She has recently taken part in group exhibitions at the University of Lüneburg's Kunstraum, Galerie Krobath, Vienna, After the Butcher, Berlin, and the North Coast Art Triennial. She received working grants from the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin, Stiftung Kunstfond, Bonn, and was artist in residence of the MAK Schindler Scholarship Program in Los Angeles. She is the author of Texte zur Kunst and currently teaches at the Department of Art and Music at the University of Cologne.
With the kind support of Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Fonds für Ausstellungsvergütungen and the Bezirkskulturfonds and in cooperation with visitBerlin.