Asta Gröting

Foundation de Appel

Though seemingly static and cold, Asta Gröting’s sculptures actually represent organic processes. At once massive and transparent, the digestive system of a shark constructed in Murano glass rested on the the floor. Like the glass, which was also at first a fluid substance, the digestive system, the site of an organic process of decomposition, is depicted now as still and transparent. Through this glass body, material and form evoke a now-frozen stream of movement.

An enormous pink-rubber tunnel represented the throat as a transportation system. Metabolic processes, reproduction, and the opposition between the inside of the body and the outer world are the basis of Gröting’s present work. The row of leather jackets that traversed one of the galleries suggested a human spine. What is normally concealed by the skin, is, paradoxically, depicted by animal hide, normally a protective covering. In isolating and magnifying models of nature and human anatomy, Gröting renders tarnsparent what was impenetrable. What is finally laid bare, however, is not a given set of real processes; what is depicted is organic nature as industrial fabrication.

Gröting’s video Eis (Ice, 1995) deals with the relationship between the body and the environment, with movement, balance, and orientation. The video features several figure-skaters performing in an empty sports arena, and a bear licking a pot of honey. Like the sculptures, the video emphasizes circular forms and circuits. The different motions and velocities highlight the variability and fluidity of forms. For instance, a woman wearing a tight dress and giant dishwashing gloves gropes her way backward. Another female skater whirls in dizzying pirouettes over the ice while a man slowly follows his own tracks, carving deeper and deeper into the ice to spell the word “how.” Two white sculptures that resemble a giant nest or cage, which were included in the exhibition, are also steered over the ice on runners, evoking a state somewhere between security and captivity. By contrast, in Orientierungsapparat (Orientation device, 1992), Gröting refers, however statically and sculpturally, to the notion of (dis)equilibrium. Two giant white forms reproduce the organs of the human inner ear. Here, too, Gröting is playing with the opposition between the organic and the synthetic.

Yet another video revolves not around inner organs, but around an “inner voice” that enters into a dialogue with a ventriloquist and a dummy about apparence and truth, the soul and shadow, delusion and reality. In these works, Gröting lays bare normally isolated and concealed organisms; together, they form a model of a network of energy.

Frank-Alexander Hettig

Translated from the German by David Jacobson.