A Russion Soyuz rocket was launched into space on June 6, 2018. It's destination: the International Space Station ISS, hovering 400 kilometers above the Earth. It's speed: 28,000 kilometers per hour. It's crew: three astronauts including the German astronaut Alexander Gerst. It's mission: EXPLORE THE FUTURE.
The mission of Astro-Alex has three central things in common with the latest exhibition "SpAcE DyNaMiCs" of the German artist Christa Winter at Galerie von Braunbehrens in Stuttgart (July 20 - September 14, 2018):
Ascension to unlimited heights, space and possibilities.
Confrontation with high tech and the future.
Hovering at zero gravity.
But let us begin with a journey through time. Our destination: the Renaissance.
The group of works entitled ICON AQUAPLANING from the year 2013 presents newly discovered icons of the Renaissance. They are an afterthought on the age of revolutionary discoveries and radical change, be it the discovery of America, the letterpress, the heliocentric view of the world or the rediscovery of central perspective in art and architecture.
Realized in aquarelle, the three works not only show the new role of woman in the Renaissance with a self-confident glance toward the viewer (Compare Leonardo da Vinci's "Image of a young woman"); Christa Winter explains that "there was a completely new awareness of one's self in that age".
Icon Aquaplaning symbolizes the erratic progress of TODAY. Christa Winter reminds us that "we are living in a revolutionary age again today, although we neither appreciate nor notice it".
This view becomes all the more significant when we consider CIMON, the youngest member of the ISS crew. CIMON is a little robot equipped with artificial intelligence. A high-tech experiment of industry and research partners, he demonstrates how humans and machines will work together in the future. CIMON assists Alexander Gerst with his knowledge and is also a welcome and humorous interlocutor who helps the astronauts pass their time.
In his classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1968, Stanley Kubrick foresaw man’s ability to enable things to think. However, when man first landed on the moon, artificial intelligence was still a mere fantasy.
How is our self-awareness changing today, in the year 2018? Christa Winter offers an answer. The evolution of famous oil paintings to aquarelle is „an expression of our own aquaplaning. We are floating today more than ever.“ Or in the words of David Bowie in his famous song „Space Oddity“ (1969):
„I am FLOATING in a most peculiar way…“
FLOATING COLOURS (1998-2008) is the title of the next group of works to claim a role in Christa Winter’s confrontation with high tech and artificial intelligence.
Professor Peter Weibel, head of the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (ZKM), considers the future-oriented group of works to be „smart art“. The main focus here is the research done on materials. Christa Winter brings her artwork to life by using special, chemically produced color pigments. Thanks to the multiple layers of paint employed, convex sculptures and paintings on aluminum plates enter into dialogue with us as beholders. At the same time our position and viewing angle determine how the intelligent and flexible works react to our behavior. CIMON reacts in a similar way to astronaut Alexander Gerst.
Many years ago, the philosopher and cyberneticist Heinz von Foerster stated: „Plan your actions so that the number of choices increases and new doors open”.
Von Foerster was a radical constructivist and maintained that the world as we perceive it is our own invention. Following this constructivist view of the world, Christa Winter makes us co-creators of her creative process:
The exhibition that we perceive is our own invention.
Stanley Kubrick pursued this approach as well. He saw his masterpiece as an intensive, subjective experience that was to reach the viewer at a deeper level of consciousness – similar to music. „We can hardly evade its effect.”
Neither can we evade the group of works entitled CLUSTER BABYLON (2009-2018). A huge collection of collage elements have accumulated in Christa Winter’s atelier over the years. She has removed countless forms and images from their original context and reassembled them to new constellations in her group of works. The oil paintings depict new ARCHITECTURE, variations of a future metropolis. In doing so, they beg the question of how we will live in the future.
As we approach the end of our mission, we leave the Milky Way and depart to further, more remote galaxies. The large wall installation entitled GALAXIES (2008) leads us to 15 remote spiral galaxies. By using a laser, various forms have been cut out of metal, the largest of which has a diameter of 2.10 meters. As in outer space, they are thin discs with innumerous, protruding spiral arms. In outer space, they originate with the creation of new stars.
The interaction between micro- and macrocosms, the view from the big picture to intricate detail, has always captured Christa Winter’s imagination. „I live with these contrasts. They‘re not contradictions for me.”
In order to experience this contrast, we shall end our journey with the coveted and feathery AIR SCULPTURES (2017/2018). As nearly everything else on our mission, this group of works hovers. In dialogue with harsh and bulky galaxies, the air sculptures appear delicate and fragile.
It was in 2017 that I first saw an air sculpture in the Froehlich Collection. It seemed to be engrossed in conversation with one of Frank Stella’s sculptures that violently exploded out of the wall. Indeed, Christa Winter’s fine-feathered object self-confidently stood its ground in dialogue with the fulminating work of the abstract expressionist artist. It was an impressively harmonious interplay of forces.
Inspired by the works of the Floating Colours series, the sculptures build on the permeability of light. With their 60 to 150 moult feathers, including flamingo, pigeon and pheasant, they rank among the weightlessly hovering beauties of the cosmos.
Dear Space Crew,
We are now landing at the space station von Braunbehrens. On the next pages of the exhibition catalogue you will find yourselves floating at ZERO GRAVITY in an art space of endless possibilities. The catalogue presents excerpts from a unique overview of Christa Winter’s work, including more than 60 works from an impressive 22 years of creativity.
This is an excerpt from the exhibition catalogue "Christa Winter - SpAcE DyNaMiCs" introducing the artist's exhibition at Galerie von Braunbehrens, Stuttgart from July 20 to September 14, 2018
Find out more about Christa Winter at http://www.christa-winter.com/
The exhibition catalogue can be ordered at Galerie von Braunbehrens, Stuttgart.