Critics’ Picks

View of “Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske,” 2017. From left: Hanne Darboven, Wunschkonzert (Musical Request Program), 1984; Charlotte Posenenske, “Vierkantrohre Serie DW” (Square Tubes, DW Series), 1967.


Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske

Konrad Fischer Galerie | Berlin
Neue Grünstraße 12
January 13–February 25

This joint exhibition of works by Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske restages the gallery’s second-ever show, from 1967, to mark its fiftieth anniversary. The pieces here, however, are not exactly the same as they were then, nor could they be. Posenenske’s “Vierkantrohre Serie DW” (Square Tubes, DW Series), 1967, a square ventilation shaft made out of corrugated cardboard, edges through the room like an awkward animal. The arrangement of its parts is left up to the gallery with every installation, thereby engaging in that impossible strategy of using formalism as a radical gesture within the capitalist art market.

With manic eagerness to give form to immaterial events, Darboven’s Wunschkonzert (Musical Request Program), 1984, is a dense wall of framed note sheets organized under vintage greeting cards celebrating the Christian confirmation ritual. The frames also display the scores to four pieces of music, composed out of fragments through a system developed by the artist, which play in the gallery. This sinister music along with the kitschy cards forms an affective counterpoint to her sterile collection of data, an at once ambitious and absurd attempt to harness the emotional charge of the special occasion in an unending flow of time.

For 42/100 Ein Jahrhundert ABC (42/100 One Century ABC), 2002, presented across seventy-two panels, Darboven used a comprehensive, highly abstract numerical system she developed in the late 1960s to depict a century with encyclopedic rigor. Posenenske’s political vision proved equally impossible to realize, causing her to announce the end of her art practice in 1968. Shown here together, the works of both artists are striking testimonies to the value of process and undaunted ambition as an end in itself.