katerina kuznetcowa & alexander edisherov – des illus ion

In the context of their exhibition Des Illus Ion, Katerina Kuznetcowa and Alexander Edisherov realize a three-dimensional triptych that extends from the interior exhibition space to the exterior of the Atelierhaus. In terms of content, they set out with three sculptures in search of a pictorial answer to existing riddles of the cultural and natural sciences: they deal with the nature and meaning of black holes or trace the development of man back to the first recorded logical action. The central question here is to what extent the visible conditions the imagination or to what extent that which remains unimaginable can nevertheless be taken up pictorially.

Linked to this question, they have devoted themselves to the analysis of disillusion. For this purpose, the artists divided the surface, the space and the exhibition title into three parts, equivalent to three stages of the sensation of disillusion: illusion, reality and hope. Thematically, disillusion extends from the resigned disappointment already rooted in illusion to the hope of being able to bring about a positive reordering of things through the recognition of reality.

As the centerpiece of the triptych, a six-meter-long wall object is placed in the middle of the exhibition space, consisting of black, interwoven bands of fabric. As one passes by, the jet-black surface casts back a different image at each viewpoint. Depending on how the reflection of the light hits the viewer’s eye, different squares and patterns visibly stand out from the surface, which is composed of high and cross woven ribbons, or disappear again into the darkness. The rich black, which contains everything but reveals little, is an image of the universal. This work stands for a universal information carrier that, like a black hole, condenses an unimaginably large amount of matter, knowledge and information into the smallest of spaces. The way of weaving connects this work from the now with the origin of handicraft logic. Weaving can be dated back, even before pottery or weaving, as man’s first logical act of creating complex objects, and has remained unchanged in its nature over the last 32,000 years, only now refined, in all aspects of our lives.

An amorphous object opposite the weaving, which can be classified as a side wing in terms of content, continues the thesis that not everything imaginable can be visualized. The object, which nestles inconspicuously against a wall of raw exposed concrete and at one point arches forebodingly from it into the room, houses the many unfinished thoughts that carry the hopeful potential of the future. It stands for a potential not directly quantifiable with words and pictures that seems to be within reach, but has not yet become material reality. Is it nevertheless existent or only illusion? Surprise, irritation and finally the realistic hope for a hint slumbering in the hidden, characterize this work.

The second side piece of the triptych, a meter-high sculpture in the outdoor space with the word-playful title “In the Hope of Seeing Rhine,” turns out to be a sculptural abstraction of a telescope. In the meadow area bordering the exhibition space, wooden beams taller than a man are set into the ground, supporting a spiral tube with the direction of view to the west. This is where the Rhine is said to lie, whose local proximity to the Atelierhaus provided inspiration for a dedicated marketing team just over four years ago. Not infrequently, however, visitors to the house ask the resourceful and justified question ‘where the harbor is’ – after all, the name of the Atelierhaus Quartier am Hafen awakens an expectation that cannot be directly fulfilled, analogous to the convoluted character of the des-illus-ion. With a wink, this sculpture unmasks what seemed real as mere effect and reminds us that some of what is real is not directly perceptible to the naked eye. This twist leads the mind back to the centerpiece, whose illusionistic black surface is both reality and imagination.

With this exhibition, Kuznetcova and Edisherov, through the pictorial analysis of disillusion, put up for discussion three theses about knowledge. They address knowledge that can be imagined, knowledge that can be tapped, and knowledge that cannot be grasped in words because it is too universal, too perfect, or too abstract for the imagination of the human mind. Only the image of this universal knowledge that runs through the space on the perfectly woven, six-meter-long surface and illustrates the principle of knowledge condensation can materialize.

They face the intense thought process that philosophers, physicists or mathematicians have always faced in order to imagine something that is unimaginable because it breaks the existing dimensions and logical rules of human life. As artists involved in this process, they enjoy the advantage of not having to commit to a single, coherent theory. Instead, they are free to weave logic, feeling and environment – to weave new meaning. Free and full of illusions.

The artist duo Katerina Kuznetcowa (1974 in Smolensk / Russia) and Alexander Edisherov (1973 in Tiblisi / Georgia) were invited to the fourth exhibition in 2014 in the exhibition space Q18 of the Quartier am Hafen to develop a site-specific work. They graduated from the Kunstakademie Münster as master students of professors Maik and Dirk Löbbert in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and have been working together as an inseparable artistic unit since 2010.

In recent years, they have created a consistent oeuvre together, which manifests itself mostly large-scale and pointed in the (partly) public space. Abstraction is an important keyword for the description of their works, which, however, is not to be understood as an end in itself but as a consequence. The artists formulate questions about specific local conditions, which they answer through their sculptures and interventions sometimes directly, sometimes superordinately.

Lisa Bensel December 2014

This exhibition was made possible by the kind support of the Kulturamt der Stadt Köln and Westwerk Immobilien.

A printed documentation is available.

Images © Kuznetcowa & Edisherov 2014
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