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DARGOW - two proposals, one place
Silvia Reneses & Ebba Rohweder
DEC 2011 - JAN 2012
José Robles Gallery, Madrid

Catalogue of the exhibition pdf: DARGOW - two proposals, one place

Lucy R. Lippard

“CROSSINGS - In a sense this exhibition brings us two places, though they both have the same name – Dargow, Germany. Ebba Rohweder sees a familiar place over time, from past to present, the span she has known personally. Spaniard Silvia Reneses sees different place, unfamiliar, newly revealed. Her small paintings are postcard size, indicative of the visitor’s view, while Rohweder’s video and music extend over time, including family and change. The artist’s book becomes a souvenir while the video/music becomes nostalgia, or corrected nostalgia. Dargow was once on the border between two places that were once (and then became again) a single place – Germany as a divided and a unified nation. This quasi-geographical fact augments the dual vision. For both artists, landscape is “baggage.” The viewer is invited to be in two places at once, and to bring their own baggage – the inescapable personal associations that inevitably surface as we stand before someone else’s images”.

Dargow- pintura Silvia


Javier González Panizo

27 December 2011

JOSÉ ROBLES GALLERY: 15/12/11-13/01/12

How to represent the unrepresentable, how to represent the ignominy of history, how to represent the need to forget that all history brings with it? If contemporary art has to be clear about anything - if these two artists are very clear about anything - it is that the mediation that postulates current artistic practices is not imprisoned by a precise link between word and image that would result in a causal interplay of stories and narratives and their subsequent representational regime. Rather, it is the inappropriateness of all mediation that guarantees that the play of the unrepresentable is at the very heart of artistic practice. It is not, therefore, that display and signification no longer agree, but rather that they can agree infinitely, that their point of agreement is everywhere and nowhere.

That is to say, the disassociation at the core of all representation in the current regime of art is not consigned to the trace of inappropriateness that mediates between signification and display but, on the contrary, it is a new mode of linking, of aesthetic distance, that occurs wherever an identity between meaning and non-sense can be made to coincide with an identity between presence and absence.

portada catalogo01

Catalogue of the exhibition pdf: DARGOW - two proposals, one place

Dargow 03

The project Dargow - Two proposals, one place presented at the José Robles Gallery, Madrid, arises from the collaboration of two European women artists, living in Madrid, Ebba Rohweder, German and Silvia Reneses, Spanish and explores from different subjectivities and through mixed media - video, sound, painting, photography and text - a place and its landscape.

Dargow is a small village in the North of Germany, located on the banks of the great lake Schaalsee, which, in the recent past was the border between the former GDR, East Germany and the BRD, West Germany. After a journey to this territory in 2009 both artists independently produced works on Dargow, arising afterwards the possibility to exhibit the project jointly.

Though the starting point of both artists is very different, a connection is dictated by that same place. One can recognise in both works pathway crossings on the gaze that transits on the same territory....read more

Silvia Reneses and Ebba Rohweder, the artists working in this four-handed exhibition, seem to have understood this perfectly. And it is by no means commonplace. Because the recurrent, the machaconic strategy in which many artists fall into is precisely the opposite: the one that consists of drowning under the weight of History, of our history. Going to the past in order to confirm, somewhat naively, the imprecision of the word/image mediations of contemporary art forms and to open ourselves up to who knows what further capacity for sorcery. Because, as we often say, how much history are we capable of enduring? If Benjamin's angel of history turned his back on us only in order to contain the temporal implosion of the shattered image in order to glimpse even the trace of the depowered aura, now one looks back to situate oneself de facto in that remoteness that tries - in vain in most cases - to open us up to the possibility of a future.

But to redeem the horror of the gaze that sees the ignominiousness of all the past, to represent the proof of the terror in which all history is protected, it is not enough just to reconcile oneself with it - to open oneself to it. That is to say, it is not enough because, precisely now, precisely when the mediations have been blown to bits, precisely when the unrepresentable is the destiny of art, the possibility of making present the memory of every holocaust becomes the great destination of the concept of art.

Thus, the unrepresentable settles at the heart of art to postulate itself as the unique possibility of representing the inhuman. This possibility cannot be mediated either by representation according to the traditional forms of fiction or - as we have already said - by going back to the past to re-actualise the effects of the senses silenced by the horror of the inhuman. It is therefore a question of creating an action that begins here and now, not of creating a representation of what has happened, nor of producing a fiction according to the rules of representation,

What is confronted in this way is the mediation of a word that bears witness to the silence in which the place of the tragedy seems to be submerged, the place where the inhuman once took place. The word, the testimony, resolves itself incapable of filling all that silence. It is this inadequacy, this impossibility of filling the silence, which is and must be represented according to a new logic of fiction that does not arise as a procedure that mediates between the stories, but as a way of touching the unbelievability of the event of the inhuman. This 'impossibility of filling the place with words' refers to an unbelief: even if a survivor remains, even if he or she tells the story, he or she will not be believed. That is to say, there is not and never will be a word capable of filling the impossible of the inhuman, of filling the event of which now only an infinite silence remains: the real of the inhuman that is filmed is then the real of its disappearance, the real of its incredible and hallucinatory character.

Thus, the unrepresentable in contemporary art always refers to a selection, an articulation between fragments, a superimposition of acronymic time series. In other words, there is always a fiction, but in the sense of constructing a relationship between something visible and some meaning, between a heterogeneity of spaces and times. In short, there is no iconography or poetics of catastrophe in general, but only poetic or political choices.

The point is to investigate, to clarify the traces, to look for witnesses, to make them speak without erasing their enigma; in other words, to bring an absence into presence, to make something invisible visible only through the regulated power of words and images. The fiction constructed for this purpose must be treated as a present event in search of the unbelievable real that the word of the witness speaks.

If we have taken so long to explain the details of the art of the unrepresentable that shapes the most radical plausibility of contemporary art it is because, we think, this category alludes directly to this exhibition that Silvia Reneses and Ebba Rohweder have jointly carried out for the Galería José Robles.

And what they have tried to do in a masterly manner is a representation of a place and a time, a city and a history: Dargow, the hometown of one of the artists, a small town in the north of Germany that, in the recent past, was the border between the two Germanies that emerged after the Second World War.

The memory of that place, removed under the protection of a border as an indelible trace of the Holocaust, is not brought to presence according to the game of mimetic representations, nor is it reactulised according to the strategies of a past that reopens in its senselessness and its forgetfulness. Rather, the work of fiction carried out consists in giving voice to the silence of a forgetting, of a past annihilated twice: once by being consigned to the ignominy of the inhuman and, for the second time, by being reunited under the word of the Other who was once One Himself.

The place, its memories and its forgetfulness, the indecipherability of its silence, is protected by a work that emerges from a present that seeks to know and remember what has already-been. If for Ebba Rohweder the place is the place of her childhood, of her ancestors and her first memories, Silvia Reneses faces, as a visitor, a place to be documented and shaped for the first time.

Layers of meaning, of forgetting and remembering, of nomadic subjectivities, gradually adhere to the silence of a horror shared in our condition as humans. No longer just the representation of a place and a time, but the (im)possible irrepresentation of a volatile and unbelievable memory. In bringing to presence all the absence distilled by the memorial history of a silenced place, artistic fiction achieves what it is destined for: to bear witness to a forgetting, to record personal memory with the untimeliness of an incredible silence, to refer the experiences of the place of birth to the interpolation implied by the re-actualisation of the foreigner.

If in Reneses' photographs and drawings one practice refers to the other in order to close off an always impossible interpretation, Rohweder's video, halfway between the past of autobiography and the most current present, refers us to the condemnation to silence to which all human experience is condemned.

In short, the experience of the inhuman, the irrepresentation of oblivion, the meaninglessness in the midst of meaning, confronts us with our most essential destiny: that which tells us that we are strangers in our own home, that we are inhabitants of a place condemned to silence and not to believe what has happened.
(link: BLOGEARTE of Javier González Panizo)