whitehot | July 2009, Alexandra Ranner @ Loock Galerie
Alexandra Ranner: Stilleben mit Raum at Loock Galerie
June 20-August 1, 2009
Alexandra Ranner is showing a series of photos of lonely, desolate rooms. Rooms that almost appear as though they were never intended for human inhabitance. Or, that they have been abandoned and sealed away, their forsaken state having yet to be discovered by the outside world. This outside world is referenced via hints of light, natural and artificial, as well as by glimpses afforded by the occasional window. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear why the rooms in the photos seem so artificial. They are spaces designed by the artist, perhaps close-ups of miniature architectural models.
Haus I & II are indicative of Ranner’s technique, which is done so well that it is indecipherable from the mood evinced in the images. The foundation of a concrete house nestled in a bed of snow-like clay is glimpsed from the open window. We are within a neighboring home, clearly resembling the one we are watching. Beneath the window, a bizarre, plastic-looking radiator gives away the fake, constructed nature of the scene, as do the two armchair sofas, haphazardly flung nearby as though abandoned in the midst of a hasty move. The counterpart image offers the same from a slightly different angle, only at twilight, with the furniture also moved around. While the change in perspective may be slight, the shift in lighting is dramatic, affecting everything in the scene. The light pastels of the first photograph have been replaced with a brooding hue; the floor elicits a melancholic glow.
There’s something otherworldly, martian-like, about these pictures. We are able to physically enter into one of them. Ranner has installed one of her rooms, Schlafzimmer II/08, in a wooden box in the middle of the gallery. An empty enclosed space with black carpeting, in the middle of which an empty frame allows us to peer into the room on the other side, where we find a bed in the corner framed from above by adjacent rectangular windows. On the bed, a bunched-up blanket. (Is someone wrapped up in it or not?) The bed faces a black television set, and we sit on the other side of this TV, watching the lack of action. On the left side, a door, just like on our side of this wonderless wonderland – one that doesn’t quite suffocate us with inferences of the terminal, but also refuses to suggest much beyond its eerie airlessness.
A final video piece, added on almost as an afterthought, provides a disruptive element to the exhibition, in that it seemingly has nothing to do with everything that has come before. Manni, an earlier work, gives us another divided space, this one less specific than the others – on the right side, what looks like the entrance to a wooden box similar to the one we just came out of; on the left, two chairs. A man moves about frantically, jerking his arms through the air, as though having an argument with an unseen person or force. Perhaps he is able to actually see and hear the ghosts that we can only feel in our encounters with Alexandra Ranner’s work.
Travis Jeppesen is the author of five books, including Victims, the novel chosen by Dennis Cooper to debut his Little House on the Bowery imprint for Akashic Books, and Disorientations: Art on the Margins of the “Contemporary”. His new novel, The Suiciders, will be published in 2013. He currently divides his time between London and Berlin.
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