Critics’ Picks

The friendliest of the enemies, 2001.

Berlin

Kerstin Kartscher

Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch
Kurfürstenstraße 12
January 26–February 26, 2002

For those who can still remember the fascination of LP covers, Kerstin Kartscher's exhibition is a real treat. The thirty-five-year-old German artist, who lives in London, presents eleven drawings recalling ’70s album art. Her iconography—crystal mountains, stormy seas, playing cards, fairy-tale characters, and giant eagles—could easily double as visuals for glam rock with classical overtones, bands such as Queen, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, ELO, Styx, or Elton John as Captain Fantastic. The major difference is that the heroes in Kartscher’s dreamy landscapes are exclusively female. They may look like forlorn heroines, but a distinctly feminist edge emerges through their feathered bangs. The history of architecture, 2001, for example, presents a wavy sea, a volcano spouting light beams, some swans, a few musical notes, and a castle interior, all hovering around a woman on her knees, busily making architectural drawings, the mandatory box purse at her side. Whether architects, skaters, musicians, or dancers, Kartscher’s women are not damsels in distress waiting for a hero, but busy souls who inhabit their fantastic surroundings with ease. Executed in red, black, or blue marker with occasional neon highlights, the drawings offer a complex web of shapes, lines, and forms that can solicit endless examination from up close and afar. There’s also a definite nod to German Romanticism in these works, particularly to Novalis’s writings on crystals and alchemy.