Critics’ Picks

Rosana Antolí, Chaos Dancing Cosmos, 2017, plastic tubing, cable ties, three motors, dimensions variable. Installation view.


“sign just under the skin”

House of Egorn
Potsdamer Straße 96
January 20–February 24, 2018

It is in the nature of language to be disembodied. Whether spoken or written, the word has no real form. Language, then, widely believed to be concrete, is actually the most abstract entity that exists—caught up in a perpetual struggle to cohere into meaning and failing, through its ambiguities, every time. The only art form that exists, then, is interpretation.

Cocurated by Àngels Miralda and Catherine Parsonage, “sign under the skin” anthologizes this tension between disintegration and cohesion in the work of four young artists. Rosana Antolí’s Chaos Dancing Cosmos, 2016–17, the largest work here, is a spiral of black cable snaking its way in a crazed swirl through an entire room: writing in space. Next to this, a large flat-screen monitor on the floor becomes a tablet, a notebook, in Katarina Hruskova’s Pulp, 2016. This video depicts the artist’s handwritten meditation on, what else, the materiality of writing: “One by one these words dry into your awareness,” she writes, just as the ink from her pen dries on the page.

Of course, one doesn’t require words to write; the practice can also be accomplished through sound, through gesture. The former is demonstrated in Hruskova’s seven-inch record Real Fire on a Fake Hotel, 2014, adequately described by the artist as an “audio guide to facing a corner.” Sandra Vaka Olsen makes use of sunscreen and her own body to create images on photographic paper for Towels (Prinzenbad) and Towels (solarium), both 2018, plus a wall painting composed of sunscreen (UVW, 2015–18). As if things couldn’t get more meta, finally, there are Catherine Parsonage’s calligraphic tributes to Justine Frank, that infamous Belgian Surrealist artist and writer who actually didn’t exist—but is, rather, the creation of the contemporary artist Roee Rosen. Perhaps authorship, in the end, is just as elusive as the words we read, write, speak, and hear.