Flache Welt (Flat Earth)

Alena Meier / Bettina Carl / Ina Bierstedt

  • 2 Sep - 19 Sep, 2003

This is a picture show, an exhibition for which the visually novel has failed to turn up. The new will not make a rare appearance here. Instead, in literal senses and through articulations of familiarity and cliché, found material dominates the exhibited work of Berlin-based artists Ina Bierstedt, Bettina Carl and Alena Meier.

Flache Welt (trans. flat earth) suggests some general strains in contemporary picture making and art production-the notion of burying occidental perspective in abstract painting, for example, or that of the screen- a surface of mediation whose flatness threatens the material or the original. To some it is simply a state of mind. At a stretch, the contemplation of flatness may allow us to imagine life on a saucer. We might simply cut a hole and crawl from Auckland to Berlin and back again. Perhaps a renaissance in flat thinking is developing; while today's technology bluffs the erasure of obstacles such as physical distance and the features of geophysical terrain, these measures of spatiality return unscathed-a phenomenon which is probably also applicable to the dynamics of power in relation to sovereign states and borderless corporate entities.

A common feature in these artists' work is an imaging of the desire to control, to comprehend or to remember. Nostalgia for space, landscape and beauty constitutes one focus in Ina Bierstedt's work A horse of another colour - senior citizens' home, 3rd floor, (2003). These depictions of ageing photo-jigsaws were shot in a retirement home and are accompanied by a slither of chocolate bars snaking across the floor. Alena Meier shows Painter's Working Material, (2003)-a series of images that explore the question of cause and effect, of coincidence and authorship in the act of producing photos and paintings. A second work plays with European art tradition too; a projection of two anecdotes about failed painting production. Flat can also connote something easily accessible or smooth, features that we expect from a stereotype. In When the typical is new, (2003), Bettina Carl's drawn clichés announce and interpret themselves as landscape-she plays with the figurative at the same time as introducing a set of abstract formal 'samples'. Or is she 'covering' the conventions of occidental painting? For Carl, drawing is not simply the tracing or persecuting of form for the sake of digression, it also collects our expectations of art-treating them literally, performing them.

Facilitated by Jon Bywater and David Hatcher.

Flache Welt is generously supported by the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes Wellington, and rm103 is generously supported by Creative New Zealand