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Lena von Gödeke

"Watchlist 1/13"

March 22nd - April 25th 2013

The Stage is yours

The work of Lena von Gödeke is marked by a variety of artistic techniques and their synthesis. The unifying theme here is her understanding of contemporary art as the continuation traditions from the history of art. In like manner, she focusses on technique and material, which she uses independent of contemporary dogmas and thus transforms them.

In her work, structures created in this or the last century as well as medial or other objects that only then came into existence bear witness to her contemporareity. Prime examples of this are her paper cuttings “Good Night And Good Luck” or “Eismeer” which are obviously modelled on pieces from the history of art, here Géricaults “The Raft of Medusa” and the work of the same title by Caspar David Friedrich. Von Gödeke transposes the masterpieces of composition and colour into a paper cutting.

In the paper cut Lena von Gödeke has rediscovered a long underestimated traditional medium that, by use of scalpel and modern graphics she transfers into contemporary art. In the limiting binary technique she has disclosed a great spectrum of representational possibility which she complements by her own constantly expanding visual code of shapes, ornamentation and an urban aesthetic.

Despite the two-dimensional fragility of the work, coherent visual systems are created by elegantly positioning counterpoints, the smallest parts of which are as important for holding together the design as is the grand composition and which, despite their monochromaticity, nonetheless do justice to the depth and shading of the model from the history of art.

But the works created on this foundation are neither bland retro-kitsch nor a mere hommage to the models but are shockingly topical. Precisely because the models are so well known, von Gödeke succeds in letting the motif recede into the background and thus enables a re-interpretation in the here and now by the structures she introduces.

The case is analogous for her painting – her work often has an apocalyptic air. But like her paper cuts, they are not to be understood as merely expressing pessimism about our society and times. These scenarios are the stage for the representation of classical motifs. A posteriori stages, projection points positioned by the artist with a view to presenting what has (not yet) happened in a new light independent of the everyday. This theme is consisently carried out in her art and it connects these various modes of expression in stage-like representational spaces between the past and tomorrow.

In her piece the mode of presentaion, i.e. the glass cabinet as a shrine for scientific artefacts itself becomes the represented object according to the contemporary mantra “The Stage Is Yours”. In this vein, invites one not only to see the blending of two traditional artificial, conservatory phenomena, but, at the surface-level also transcends the metaphorical one. The wood is painted. The glass here takes on the function of a vacuous display. The focus of attention lies on the surface. In our fast-paced times, authenticity must merely satisfy a fleeting first glance. Bedazzlement has become and end in itself, sustained attention is of highest value. As such, Zeuxis has to be deceived yet again.