Far Back Must Go Who Wants To Do A Big Jump— at Chert Lüdde

Far Back Must Go Who Wants To Do A Big Jump Chert Lüdde
16 November, 2019 – 29 February, 2020 Ritterstr. 2a, 10969 Berlin

Liliana Barchiesi
Jacopo Benassi
Kira Freije
Petrit Halilaj
Rosemary Mayer
Agnes Scherer and Paul DD Smith
Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt

The title of the exhibition Far Back Must Go Who Wants To Do A Big Jump is borrowed from an eponymous work by Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, one of her quintessential typewritten visual poems.

The phrase alludes to a series of backwards steps that are necessary to take in order to jump forward, a dualistic notion which provides the golden thread of the exhibition.

Petrit Halilaj’s series of women’s dresses is the artist’s response to a gift given to him by his grandfather, who made a set of clothes hangers for his new apartment meant for his hypothetical girlfriend. Playing drag with his own identity and faced with the impossibility of explaining his sexuality to his grandfather, the artist asked several tailors to produce women’s dresses in his size. Halilaj’s affinity for costume has also taken shape in the form of various animals that hold significance for him: birds and moths that would at times be performed by the artist himself or in the latter case, made with traditional Kosovarian fabrics in fantastical proportions. For Halilaj, the act of masquerade provides escape and freedom, as well as metamorphosis and new life.

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Petrit Halilaj, “We invented a game to play when there´s too much emotion around, we shoot one another or group by group”, 2019, Fabric dress, wood hanger, metal — All images: Andrea Rossetti and Trevor Lloyd

The photographic series by Jacopo Benassi, Ciabatte (Slippers), reflects on the domestic accessory as a symbol of intimacy, sexuality, liberation and secrecy. By showcasing a piece of apparel unsuitable for the outdoors, Benassi commits an act of exposure, reflecting upon the boundaries and fragility of ideas such as self-protection and propriety.

Liliana Barchiesi is most known for her photographic series Casalinghe (Housewives), shot between April and June 1979. Made with a Nikon 24×36 camera with BN negative, the series encompasses over a dozen rolls of 36 shots. Barchiesi left notecards in the porters’ lodges of different Milanese neighborhoods, where she explained the reasons for her research and asked for her subjects’ consent to participate. The women were then photographed in their homes while carrying out their duties. A pioneer of Italian Feminist art and its movement, Barchiesi showed a glimpse into the everyday lives of these women, calling for the recognition of domestic work as legitimate labor and inspiring further important discussions on the disparities within patriarchal society.

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Jacopo Benassi, “Selfportrait 1970/2019”, 2019, fine art prints, artist frames, plaster.
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Jacopo Benassi, “Selfportrait 1970/2019”, (detail), 2019, fine art prints, artist frames, plaster.

Rosemary Mayer was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery in New York, the first cooperative women’s gallery in the US, and one of the voices of the early 70s feminist movement in America. Contesting the formal, predominantly Minimalist art of the time, Mayer produced experimental works across performance, sculpture, publication and drawing. Her billowing fabric sculptures, for which she is most well-known, were often named after literary and historical figures– iridescent forms spanning subjects and ideas such as philosophy, mythology, and temporality. The works on paper in the exhibition are mappings of different noises heard from outside in Mayer’s studio on specific days, color-coded to create a mosaic of sounds and textures. What can be interpreted as synaesthetic studies on the quotidian can be as much the peculiarities of individual perception.

Agnes Scherer and Paul DD Smith present a new series of ceramic tableware, with painted garlands of culinary and floral motifs encircling various narrative scenarios. These scenes pay homage to the historical figure François Vatel, a chef and event planner who served at the Château de Chantilly in 17th century France. Vatel is infamous for having committed suicide in response to the immense pressure of entertaining Louis XIV and his enormous entourage. The anecdote goes that he ran himself through with his own sword because of the insurmountable shame of a missing delivery of fish. The duo has previously taken inspiration from the intricate and often bizarre designs of different periods, constructing parallel worlds in their depiction of certain activities at the center of a societal universe. Scherer and Smith combines historical aesthetics with invented chronicles to create enigmatic, surreal hybrids of meaning and importance.

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Paul DD Smith, Agnes Scherer, “The Vatel Set (Casualty of spirits)”, 2019, Glazed ceramic.

Lastly, three works by Kira Freije feature another ubiquitous object within the interior realm. The lamps, made of scrap metal and cracked liquor bottles, operate as guides in a nebulous network governed by Freije’s particular material language, characters that invite theatrical suspense and activate recognition and memories in the viewer. Employing a process of sculpture-making that is akin to following poetic structure, Freije’s works form constellations of meaning in their arrangements. In Elizabeth Bishop’s 1955 poem “The Shampoo”, the narrator asks to wash her female lover’s black hair in a tin basin, “battered and shiny like the moon”. The scene depicts female homosexuality and desire concealed from the eyes of others, exemplary of the invisibility of the subject matter. Likewise, queerness and (in)visibility are notions latent in Freije’s sculptures, yet open to recognition.

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via press release, Chert Lüdde, Berlin
Featured Image: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Far back must go… (Wörter series), mid 70s, Original typewriting, 10.5 × 15.
All images: Andrea Rossetti and Trevor Lloyd