Critics’ Picks

View of “Not feeling too cheerful: reclining figures, facades and more,” 2019.

View of “Not feeling too cheerful: reclining figures, facades and more,” 2019.


Asta Gröting

carlier | gebauer, Berlin
Markgrafenstraße 67
April 27–June 1, 2019

Paramount to Asta Gröting’s current solo exhibition, “Not feeling too cheerful: reclining figures, facades and more,” is pace. The meeting of two exposed wires in a finger-size hole in the wall creates an intermittent electrical buzz in Einen Funken Leidenschaft (Spark of Passion), 2008: the soundtrack to a meditation on slowness and vulnerability. The series of white-wax-and-epoxy-resin-cast sleeping bags strewn across the gallery floor, facetiously titled “Reclining Figure,” 2018–19, suggests cocooned, slumped bodies and serves as an irreconcilably pristine monument to homelessness and destitution. In another room, Verdauungswege 2 (Digestive System 2), 1990, an enormous, snaking digestive tract, turns the slow processes of the body outward, exposing them to the elements.

In her most recent video work, Things, 2018, the artist presents a slow-motion portrait of just that: A random parade of objects floats up against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Lemons, flowers, marshmallows, a squid—each item passes by slowly, giving us enough time to ponder its significance. But, as with much of the work in this exhibition, it’s the punctuated exposure to Zeit that overrides the particular content.

Gröting’s series “Berlin Fassaden,” 2016–18, is perhaps the most tangible witness to this passage of time. Her silicone casts of building facades turn bullet holes into bulging bubbles and cracks into scars. The ravages of history are translated via the weathered textures of Berlin’s architecture and preserved in these unexpectedly delicate hanging sculptures, their material soft and malleable. We are left with the recognition of a shared vulnerability between ourselves and the seemingly inanimate objects around us, which, the artist intimates, are also capable of “not feeling too cheerful.”