Home Architect Laura Ziegler at the Neuer Essen Kunstverein (NEK)

Laura Ziegler at the Neuer Essen Kunstverein (NEK)

by godlove4241
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The flexibility of puns and the burlesque sensibility of Laura Ziegler’s solo exhibition “Kartoffel Jazz” create a web of historical and personal entanglements that unfold rhizomatically underground, like unruly filaments. Miniaturized narrative scenes, complete with theatrical lighting and simple special effects (a gurgling fountain, a spinning canvas) stand alongside sculptures, publications, collages and video works often produced in collaboration with others, including the brother and the artist’s father. Ziegler’s playful borrowing of pre-industrial, everyday iconography from European genre painting – including crude salt-dough or polystyrene puppets, claws of gold coins and, naturally, the holder kartoffel (German for “potato”) – proposes a “revolutionary politics of the everyday”. Peeling back the visual and linguistic tropes of work and struggle, Ziegler encourages the emergence of a more rebellious vernacular.

Framed by the two gigantic bay windows of the Kunstverein, fourteen new and recent works illustrate stories that are both independent and linked by repeated visual cues. Four sculptural Lamps (all 2020-2021) blend work, performance and rest, functioning both as intricate tableaux and as sets featured in the half-hour video die-arbeit.info TV2021, a puppet talk show interview with the former editorial staff of the short-lived leftist cultural magazine hilfe (Help). As the group reflects on their practices of self-organization and the turbulent political climate of the then newly reunited Germany, the camera pans through the modular sets, getting closer to the angular features of the puppets, felt clothes or Susan’s hair. Sontag. Such an intoxicating discussion led by a group of dancing puppets – meticulously crafted like a group of German intellectuals – positions the illogical and the carnivalesque as an appropriate system of representation for small-scale and neglected stories.

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