ARS VIVA 208 – Anna-Sophie Berger, Oscar Enberg, Zac Langdon-Pole

  • 06.10.2017. - 19.11.2017

From 7 October to 19 November 2017, Kunstverein München proudly presents an exhibition featuring new and recent works by the winners of the ARS VIVA 2018 prize: Anna-Sophie Berger, Oscar Enberg, and Zac Langdon-Pole.

Since 1953 the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e.V. (the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries) has been awarding the annual ARS VIVA prize to young artists living in Germany whose works are distinguished by their pioneering potential. This year’s jury was chaired by Ulrich Sauerwein and consisted of members of the Kulturkreis Fine Arts Committee, and directors and curators Chris Fitzpatrick, Martin Germann, Zita Cobb, Nicolaus Schafhausen, and Krist Gruijthuijsen as expert advisors. In 2018, the exhibition will tour to S.M.A.K. in Gent, Belgium, where it will be attenuated appropriately. The artists are additionally awarded individual prize money, a residency at Fogo Island Arts (Canada), and a bilingual catalogue centered on their work, with essays by Simon Baier, Gürsoy Doğtaş, Gregory Kan, Laura McLean Ferris, and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

While the artistic strategies and areas of investigation of Anna-Sophie Berger, Oscar Enberg, and Zac Langdon-Pole are very distinct, all of them develop their projects through in-depth research into the social, historical, and economic dimensions of objects and environments. Each artist makes visible and combines differing modes of production, distribution, and value-attribution. In the ARS VIVA 2018 exhibition, logics of displacement, hybridization, and semantic ambiguity are featured front and center.

A useful vehicle to steer this collective conversation might be Theseus’ Ship – a paradoxical thought experiment that asks whether an object that has had all of its parts replaced one by one could still be regarded as fundamentally the same object. This concept is essential to Zac Langdon-Pole’s practice, which contests the many historical narratives and myths attributed to the origins of specific objects. Through the contact of divergent materials and the collision of cosmic, human, and natural processes, his work tests the limits of memory, amplifies the distortions of history (namely colonial legacies), and interrogates the residue of cultural exchanges, exoticism, ornament, and the representation of history. He’s interested in what happens when personal or sentimental histories come into contact with larger social developments and collective legacies.

Similarly, Oscar Enberg trades in highly particular combinations of materials, processes, and temporalities. He excavates and invokes arcane histories, and provokes entropy. His works contain a lattice of literary, cinematic, folkloric, and civic and art historical references to be unpacked, and are full of (rare, appropriated, or endangered) materials, conflated protagonists, and anachronistic (specifically artisanal) processes to be charted. An abundance of narratives are reanimated, compressed, and intermingled, which often do not correspond easily, but together become more than the sum of their parts. His hybrid works serve as material parables for parasitical, speculative, contiguous, and abusive relations, exposing that objects and images are never autonomous but always contingent upon larger, self-generating constellations and exploitative structural conditions. The result is a sort of vernacular, a minor language, a material patois, that points to the latent perversions and absurdities in normative value systems, and makes visible the asymmetrical interactions at the heart of economic, social, and cultural relations.

Anna-Sophie Berger also displaces materials, though at times in a more transient and temporary way that tilts their status or use value, before setting them right again. Returning, recycling. The same can be said for the gestures she creates, which may apply something violent or disruptive, while also disclosing other forms of violence – the exclusions, uneven exchanges, and complications within communication. Her keen observations of the lived environment and social conventions makes visible the constant negotiation between the public and private in our daily lives, and highlights the incidental narratives and moments of meaning that erupt from the accumulation of personal experiences. By transposing objects and images from one place to the next, she brings up vital questions about the social and physical functions of things, and the adaptability of subjectivity in an increasingly unfamiliar world.

The artists exhibiting in the ARS VIVA 2018 exhibition were brought together by the prize, yet the resonances shared across their respective practices are more than fortuitous. The result is ontologically ambiguous, conceptually taut, politically motivated, and materially rich. And whether coming from public parks, outer space, the outback, underwater, the Internet, specific trees or animals, or burrowed by insects, these materials are loaded – by the way they are produced, by the social or historical function to which they’ve been applied. And they are fantastic mutants – materials collided to force physical, productive and symbolic properties to come into contact, to become distilled.

(press release)