Annette Kelm, Soles, LOL!, C U SOON, XO, STUFF 2 DO, 2013, C-print, 30 1/2 × 23 7/8".

Annette Kelm, Soles, LOL!, C U SOON, XO, STUFF 2 DO, 2013, C-print, 30 1/2 × 23 7/8".

Annette Kelm

Annette Kelm, Soles, LOL!, C U SOON, XO, STUFF 2 DO, 2013, C-print, 30 1/2 × 23 7/8".

Most of the photographs in Annette Kelm’s show “In the Realm of” depict displays or exhibits of one kind or another, some already existing, others constructed by the artist in her studio. She gives in to the pleasure of letting herself be seduced by the epiphanies that daily life presents, allowing herself to be transported by the phenomenology of the everyday. Consider, for example, Soles, LOL!, C U SOON, XO, STUFF 2 DO, 2013: It began when, walking down the street in New York, she noticed a small sampling of shoe soles of various colors, arranged in a framed rectangle in the window of a repair shop. She then acquired the framed piece and incorporated it into a set she created in her studio, which also included wallpaper purchased on eBay that featured the repeated acronym LOL along with other words. The fabric covering installed on one wall and on a portion of the studio floor makes the temporal space seem suspended, with the framed rectangle floating amid the letters.

Kelm followed a similar procedure in making other works, such as Stilleben mit Zierlauch (Still Life with Allium), 2014, in which a jar from the artist’s personal collection is shown with two purple flowers inside, placed against a background pattern that brings to mind Superstudio’s famous black-and-white grids. Here, as in many of the other images, the background seems detached from the foreground objects, giving the image a kind of green-screen effect. In this sense, Kelm’s images suggest an affinity with artists involved in a “post-Internet” discourse. Yet her work is imbued with a strong human presence. The jar seen in Stilleben mit Zierlauch, or the one in Untitled (Tribal), 2010, is ceramic and is funkily handmade, so that the human intervention is particularly and fully signified. The background for the latter work consists of colors that shade into one another, almost like a rainbow, impressed with a symbol that, according to the artist, brings to mind a tattoo, the form of which resonates with that of the vase, which is rough and almost shapeless—manuality is both depicted and evoked. The virtual and the real are in tension, but in contrast to some other seemingly similar artistic debates, here there is much more body involved.

The body was here also evoked in the museum displays captured in photographs, such as Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Vitrine “80er Jahre,” Dauerausstellung (Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Vitrine “The ’80s,” Permanent Exhibition), 2014, and Müncher Stadtmuseum, 25.1.2013 – 15.9.2013 “Geschmackssache – Mode der 70er Jahre” (Müncher Stadtmuseum, 25.1.2013 – 15.9.2013 “Taste – Fashion of the ’70s”), 2014, in which the human presence is recorded in the form of reflections or shadows visible in a series of vitrines, not to mention in the images and mannequins that were incorporated into the displays. The artist saw these exhibits while researching museum installations devoted to the feminist movement in Germany. Kelm’s humanistic interests become anthropological, semiological, and sociological in turn; she breaks with semiotics and then goes back to it.

Marco Tagliafierro

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.