Critics’ Picks

Jasmin Werner, “Sara and Tobias I–IV,” 2017, plastic pavilion window, ink-jet prints on plastic foil, 93 x 50".

Jasmin Werner, “Sara and Tobias I–IV,” 2017, plastic pavilion window, ink-jet prints on plastic foil, 93 x 50".


Jasmin Werner

Gillmeier Rech
Körnerstraße 17
April 22–May 27, 2017

Jasmin Werner’s exhibition features mechanical staircase constructions and windows taken from industrially produced garden pavilions. Four of these cheap-looking plastic sheets, which imitate the arc of church windows, are stretched over plastic foil that features ink-jet prints of a biblical couple for the series “Sara and Tobias,” 2017. In ancient times, social status—already defined by money and sexual prowess—was perceived as God-given and sacred. However, not unlike in modern secular times, status could also be achieved by faith and the right investment of erotic energies: While Sara’s seven former husbands were killed, Tobias was able to avoid such a fate by deferring the accursed sexual expenditure during three nights of prayer, as told in the Bible’s Old Testament.

The sheet windows in this series can be explicitly related to the large glass panels of Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915–23, which pictures the modern social machine as driven by repressed desires. However, after the death of God, modern people are believed to be free and equal, and exegesis can seemingly no longer legitimate individual status. Under these conditions, one’s social position appears to be fake, always a simulacrum, but it is nevertheless real. People are still compelled to climb ladders, and we estimate one another according to perceived value. Werner’s machinelike aluminum stairs not only refer to various monumental buildings but can be seen as models for an eternal, libido-driven International, reminiscent of Vladimir Tatlin. In another reference to Duchamp and the phantasm of his Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), 1912, Werner’s series of sculptures “Ambivalent Ladder”, 2016–17, all of them blocked behind a half transparent green dust sheeting—jokingly labeled Net Work, 2017—function as symbolic images for the technological framework that culturally integrates erotic energies vertically.