Critics’ Picks

View of “h = 400 cm,” 2012.


Karin Sander

Esther Schipper
Potsdamer Strasse 81E
November 2–December 22

Some things are characterized by what isn’t there, like a specter whose haunting presence is felt despite its lack of visibility. Karin Sander’s exhibition, “h = 400 cm,” draws the viewer’s attention to seldom seen features of an exhibition space, like the space behind gallery walls, by pointing out what was there all along—in this case, just another wall. Her works may signpost the hidden, but they also generate an aesthetic experience through absence.

In a gallery intervention, Umgelegt (Turned Over) (all works 2012), two walls have been shorn from the foundational wall and folded down, metal studs and all. Collapsing the wall is more than a transformation of space; it also turns the viewing experience into an ephemeral artwork by allowing the viewer to create for herself what can exist between the duality of the present and the absent. In three paintings, each in part titled XML-SVG Code, computer source code descriptions of the room in which they are hung are painted on them, and while these pieces help to extract what is latent in the transient space, it is attention to concrete experience that Sander’s works demand. A more touchable piece, Berliner Zimmer (Berlin Room), is a 17'8" x 32' white carpet with the plan of the room stitched into it, including the room’s height (13 feet, or the 400 centimeters of the exhibition’s title). This schema is a way of further highlighting the gap between the real and the imaginable, underscoring the sheer physicality of the gallery space and how this materiality contributes to our understanding of what we can’t see. By engaging the viewer with what is not directly on display, Sander’s work causes experience to become art, albeit with an invisible aesthetic.