The exhibition "In Process: Felix Kiessling, Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld, Philip Topolovac. An exhibition in three parts" shows the artists' works in autonomous and successive phases, confronting their specific researches with each other in an informal way.
Their sequence reveals an emerging concept as they encounter, respond to and complete each other, depending on the connections the artists have been able to make. The audience can gradually perceive the evolution of the exhibition in a deliberately open and untitled field of encounter.
The three interventions were each shown as a personal exhibition within a collective exhibition, where the method was more important than the final form or frame, which could be changed over time to emphasise their proximity and character.
All three works seem to conceal what they highlight, proving to be traces of a complex narrative composed of science, history, magic and actuality, weaving a rhizomatic and multidimensional plot that fits together in an almost ritualistic and symmetrical way.
In the accompanying text to Felix Kiessling's work, Florian Hadler observes how the quality of current technology remains hidden and how "Schmetterling (Ausgleich)", a manipulated gallery light that flickers in conjunction with live data of global lightning events, makes them visible through its rupture. It represents a possibility of meaning from its fundamental failed premise, that of perfect functioning, within an inaccessible global technological environment.
The cork models of buildings from German history that have changed functionality and become spaces for techno-culture are the ruins that Philip Topolovac makes the subject of his work. They are real archaeological finds, such as those he researches and collects from the building sites of Berlin and which he preserves and exhibits as war finds. Philip Topolovac's works conceal history, both past and lost and that for which the artist claims a new historicity resulting from the new use.
"ASS" is Sarah Ancelle Schoenfeld’s abstract adaptation of the ancient future-telling method of reading coffee grounds. Aspirin is pulverised and blown onto a screen, resulting in a constellation of particles that can be analysed and interpreted. By using the pharmaceutical ASS as a translational aether and computational screens as new event horizons, we might be able to reframe our unasked questions about human and nonhuman cosmologies.
The photographic crystallizations of the workshop, showing the constellations of the crushed aspirin, are linked by a broomed drawing made with willow bark on the floor. The active chemical compound, salicylic acid, is found in both, synthetic industrial aspirin and willow bark. In this way, the millennia-old and "magical" knowledge of the witches - whose broom was made of willow bark - becomes the repository of a wisdom that modern medicine has reshaped over time.
The works gradually explore the idea of circular time in its dimensions: Present, Past and Future.
As a hyperphenomenon, Felix Kiessling's light work - presented with the title "Now Now Now" - reflects the present as a succession of now-times while questioning issues of climate change on earth. Philip Topolovac's cork models from Berlin's techno clubs engage with the past, asserting its fundamental importance and primary ineffability. Finally, Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld's future reading constellations point to the possibility of human evolution formulating a new cosmology of its own.
In Process: Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld
Opening 25.02.2022 6-9 pm
Our future has increasingly become an accumulated mess. Mainly caused by a structural Western inability to find reliable answers, our fate has turned into an inescapable black hole. The resulting complex, unpleasant sensory and emotional experiences might also be described as a sort of global pain.
The German word for pain, 'Schmerz' can be traced back to the Indo-Germanic roots (s)mer(d)- which means 'grinding, rubbing, triturating'. This etymology seems to suggest a pulverisation process for providing a possible interpretation of pain.
The anti-inflammatory pain reliever ASS, better known as Aspirin, was the first industrially large-scale produced synthetic medicine. Salycic acid, the active compound of Aspirin, is present in willow bark, which was known for at least two millennia by doctors and witches - the willow also serving as raw material for the infamous witch broom, which allowed the initiated to fly through the night skies.
By falling into a black hole, one becomes a virtual particle whose information is stored on the event horizon. According to Stephen Hawking it is possible to be "boosted" as virtual particles by the black hole's gravitational attraction to become real particles again, eventually forming new stars and galaxies.
ASS is an abstract adaptation of the ancient future-telling method of reading coffee grounds. Aspirin is pulverised and blown onto a screen, resulting in a constellation of particles that can be analysed and interpreted. By using the pharmaceutical ASS as a translational aether and computational screens as new event horizons, we might reframe our unasked questions about human and nonhuman cosmologies.
In Process: Philip Topolovac
From 21 January 2022 the Mario Iannelli Gallery is pleased to present the second part of the progressive exhibition in three parts by Felix Kiessling, Sarah Schönfeld and Philip Topolovac running from 15 December 2021 to 21 March 2022.
Philip Topolovac presents a new version of the “I’ve never been to Berghain” work together with two new cork models of techno clubs that have made the history of Berlin, the "Bunker" in the former Reichsbahnbunker now home to the Boros Collection and the first “Tresor Club” located in the former Wertheim Warehouse in Leipziger Platz.
"I've never been to Berghain", an edition of which Topolovac made some samples, was exhibited for the first time in the Mario Iannelli Gallery in the group exhibition "Anatomy of Restlessness" (2016) and, subsequently in highly resonant group exhibitions celebrating the combination of art and music in a mutual influenced field as an extraordinary vehicle of culture production and global communication. (Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 - Today at the Vitra Museum, Weil am Rhein and then at the Centro Pecci, Prato; Hyper - a journey into art and music, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; Electro, Cité de la Musique, Paris).
The edition on display is smaller than the first edition and it was previously exhibited at the Design Museum in London.
The work brings back to a contemporary art narrative and the market of the eighteenth-century era of the Grand Tour in which the monumental cork models architectures of Rome were the most accurate representations of these places, also used for academic purposes and not only for collectors and admired alongside the genre of an architectural drawing of the "Vedute" in vogue at the time a genre with which even Philip Topolovac ventured with the "Berghain - Vedute" edition also on display. Some of these models are currently kept in the Collections near Aschaffenburg (Bavaria) and in the Wilhelmshöhe Castle in Kassel.
For its reputation nowadays, anyone who goes to Berlin should visit the Berghain in their trip, if they wish to, if they manage to pass and get in upon the selection at the entrance, in any case, it can be observed from outside in the context of the city. Indeed, its reality does not differ much from many other buildings in Berlin that have undergone new destinations and given birth to new realities. This practice is a constant in the mutation process due to the history and social dynamics of urban gentrification.
The sense of appropriation of these places in Philip Topolovac's work starts promptly from the change in the site's functionality. Berghain was a former power station, and its name comes from the "crasis" of the two districts - one in the east and one in the west of Berlin - that border it. It was born as a symbol of trespassing and blending.
The baroque cork models are appropriations, are "souvenirs" symbolising the reproduction of that culture that travel and make a location famous while those of Topolovac is an appropriation of a place with a claim of historicity and, at the same time, it opens to its legend and mythology, to the imagination of a site, to its energy and its history.
They are relics of monuments, hinting at what can be found beyond when the society that built them no longer exists. All three buildings depicted in the models have roots in German history and have been used as spaces for techno culture. Not only perfect for isolating sound, but these places have also become spaces of freedom and reconstruction of reality.
Topolovac reproduces them in an ancient cork skin to isolate and symbolise the experience inside, which thus remains so unutterable and eternal.
In Process: Felix Kiessling
From 15 December 2021, Felix Kiessling presents “Schmetterling (Ausgleich)”.
The piece - a manipulated gallery light - flickers in a pattern based on real-time data of global lightning events registered by a network of sensors on ships and weather stations. Each time lightning strikes, the gallery space lights up. This light radiates out onto the street through the gallery windows and thus connects the immediate surrounding with the global events.
The presentation of Felix Kiessling's work is the first episode of a group exhibition divided into three parts, a "work in progress" that awaits following the involvement of Sarah Schönfeld and Philip Topolovac, whose works will be added to the installation. The duration of the exhibition runs from December 15, 2021, to March 21, 2022.
The title "Now Now Now" that goes with this first part was conceived by Felix Kiessling to focus on the meaning and process of the work introduced with a critical text by Prof. Dr. Florian Hadler, a Visiting Professor for creative entrepreneurship at the Berlin University of the Arts whose academic work focuses on digital culture and the philosophy of the unknown.
Schmetterling (Ausgleich) intends to reach the chords of perception of a global and planetary universe. Here, Felix Kiessling creates a piece that plays with the interweaving of different technological levels, scientific data and physical conditions on Earth and in the cosmos.
By misappropriating existing infrastructures, in this case, the functionality of a gallery light, he creates a subtle distortion and minimal irritation.
In his recent work “Earth Piercing Italy-Chile”, he virtually perforated the Earth with a straight line that joins two poles located at the Torre Flavia Natural Monument in Italy and at the Embalse El Yeso lake in Chile.
This work was published in the catalogue “Sympatric Areas”, a long-term artistic and ecological research project curated by artQ13, with a critical text by the art historian Giuliana Benassi who observes how Kiessling implements “a modus operandi derives from an understanding and a phenomenological vision of the world that leads him to think about things with a different perspective than that imposed by man and, alongside these suggestions, Kiessling engages in dialogue with science, using it as a mechanism to contrive new questions”.
Schmetterling (Ausgleich) creates a phenomenon parallel to nature and simulates reality into a "hyperphenomenon", a kind of inverted "butterfly effect" where the whole world merges into one single light.
The visionary power of the work also raises the questions surrounding the evolution of the Earth's climate that currently push with greater pressure to raise awareness.
In other of his works, he questions specific topics such as "WWSS Weltwas-serspiegelsenkung" (Reduction of the global water level), "Your map is not correct anymore", in which he questions the construction of borders and maps by taking elements such as water and rock from the natural environment and "Insolation” created in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
The objective of the broken
On Schmetterling (2021) a work by Felix Kiessling
20th century tech philosophy stipulates that the meaning of technology is hidden. This principle is easy to recognize in everyday life – we’re oblivious to how exactly the technologies surrounding us function. When we flick a light switch, we don't think about the mechanism that produces the light. Only when the light doesn’t turn on, its technical basis becomes more tangible – enlightenment through non-functioning.
Following humanity’s efforts to advance electrical networks and the inventions of radio, television and telephone, some have explored these hidden meanings of technology. All these modern technologies operate beyond the threshold of human perception. We encounter them only through specially designed interfaces that transcode signals into perceivable formats. With ease, we now navigate environments in which large networks of technologies dissolve into the background and become invisible – from globally distributed high-security server farms to decentralized and virtual data infrastructures, ubiquitous sensor technology, deep tech, high-frequency trading, AI, IoT, NFT, etc.
The historical changes in our relation to technology, hidden behind these buzzwords and acronyms, are fundamental. We’re now surrounded by technological ensembles that communicate independently or as components of a larger functional arrangement. Only when we experience their failures or run into errors do they enter our consciousness. The failed update. The locked account. The slowed data connection. The server outage.
Screwdrivers or duct tape are of little help within these techno-ecological settings. Our technological environment isn’t at our disposal; rather, we are exposed to it. Unfathomable and beyond our grasp, it is cosmologically separate from humanity. Calls for data transparency, sovereignty, and participation appear futile. Our technological environment demands new forms of experimental appropriation and productive authorship to explore the specific qualities of humanity’s disposition to technology.
When artist Felix Kiessling first spoke to me about his piece Schmetterling (Ausgleich), it had just broken. Luckily, it didn’t take long to fix. A bit of duct tape, an E27 light bulb and a screwdriver was all that was needed.
The piece – a manipulated street lamp – flickers in a pattern based on real time data of global lightning events, which are registered through sensors on ships and weather stations – integrates seamlessly into its natural environment. It subverts our perceptual habits. Like a broken window, a defective car, or an overflowing trash can, the seemingly faulty flicker fits the horizon of our expectations of urbanity. When walking past it, the casual observer will merely notice irregular patterns of light.
Without contextual knowledge, the by-passer wouldn’t know that global weather events are inscribed in the flicker – an inversion of chaos theory’s famous butterfly wing beat. The interplay of various tech levels interweaving leads to subtle alienation and produces a minor irritation. The work establishes visibility, but not transparency. It doesn’t puzzle, but neither does it state the obvious.
Felix has swapped the interface. Instead of a world map with small red dots on a graphical user interface, the data is now decoded in the light produced by the street lamp. The lightning strikes us in a technologically mediated way, more directly than would be possible on-screen. Both local infrastructure and global real-time data are playfully interconnected.
In this way, the work addresses an epistemological dimension of technological functionality that concerns questions of representability, mediation, and visualization and develops important discourses in the nexus of art, technology and science. But its inherent simplicity is just as important, as is its fun factor, and in a certain sense also its naivety.
Because despite a certain tech know-how being required for the planning, implementation and installation, Schmetterling is above all a playful appropriation of existing technological environments. It’s a strong promise, the whimsical appropriation that uncovers new functionality in the seemingly broken technology. It designs perspectives of an individual local space of action, of an artistic and experimental authorship and autonomy in the midst of a global and inaccessible technological environment. And by short-circuiting different levels, by misappropriating existing infrastructures, it extracts an altogether new and humanly experienceable meaning.