Critics’ Picks

Nora Schultz, Tripod I and II, 2013, steel and foam, dimensions variable.

Berlin

Nora Schultz

Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie
Schöneberger Ufer 61
November 26–February 1

Nora Schultz’s exhibition “Stative auf der Flucht / The tripods’ escape” personifies the tripod, weaving it into a gossamer narrative set in an alternate reality. Schultz is dealing in a special brand of speculation––science fiction––as indicated by the show’s accompanying text, a reworking of an interview with an unidentified sci-fi author. But her point of departure should come as no surprise, since it’s formalized in the spindly steel and foam creatures (Tripod I and II, all works 2013) and chunky space-age gear (Moonboots) found in the gallery’s front room. Together, text and object set the scene: Tripods, previously subservient in an image-obsessed culture (perhaps our contemporary art world before point-and-shoot photography?), have managed to think for themselves and are in the process of escaping functionality. We now bear witness to a moment of transition, as the technical support liberates itself and steps forward with one of its legs into a position of autonomy.

As it turns out, Schultz’s long-term habit of building makeshift printing devices and displaying the printed page near the ink-matted matrix was prescient; it has long exhibited an equivalence between image and tools. Here she also honors her tools by depicting the tripod as a motif in several “Rohrschachtest” prints and other drawings. As a result, its legged form resonates with the reclining metal trusses, standing metal armatures, and concrete castings found in the mixed-media installations The tripods’ escape I and II. Still, the small-scale drawings and prints of tripods taped to the walls, as well as the footprint-speckled roll of white paper running the length of the gallery’s hallway, come across a bit like filler––if only for their formal poverty and relative explicitness compared with the three-dimensional constructions. Though Schultz envisions a world where liberated tools “work” with no regard for function, in reality, all forms of work are subject to formidable pressure focused on the ends they might serve.