View of “Katinka Bock,” 2014.

View of “Katinka Bock,” 2014.

Katinka Bock

Galerie Jocelyn Wolff

View of “Katinka Bock,” 2014.

In Katinka Bock’s recent exhibition “Populonia,” everything was a matter of fluidity—fluidity not just of gaze, but also quite literally of water, which periodically flowed through two transparent tubes winding their way across the gallery floor. This German-born, Paris-based artist seems to possess an innate sense of space—of its equilibrium and vanishing points. And it was precisely such an exit, an unexpected perspective, that she found by piercing the back wall of the gallery to uncover another space, a storeroom one would not have known was hiding there. “I had the intuition that these spaces were communicating, but the plans were telling us otherwise,” Bock told me. “Finally the probe had us go through these layers of materials, coating, plaster, cinder block, until it hit that void, that backstage area. The limits of a space interest me enormously (walls, floor, ceiling) because it’s always about an interface of communication.”

This opening immediately brought more air into the exhibition, which, though essentially anchored to the floor where a landscape unfolded—stylized by whitewashed ceramic slabs, threadbare or flipped-over rugs of blue and khaki—was also structured by its negative spaces. “I’m interested in the objects and in the distances that these objects maintain with the space, and with the person looking at them,” confesses the artist, who has clearly mastered these operations of addition and subtraction. Supported by the sculptural vocabulary that has become her trademark (ceramics, imprinted mud, the color blue) and a know-how always indexed to her own body, to her size and strength, the exhibition unfolded like a book: one in all its materiality, with its typography and ink, its musicality and its rhythm. Some of the elements—like that ceramic “seat” buckled as if by the artist’s weight but set with a blue cushion filled with grains of rice, Grund und Boden (zweifach) (Dirt and Ground [two times]) (all works cited, 2014)—suggest a pause in time. Still others, such as Moscow, in which the meandering of transparent tubes through which fresh and salt water traveled to the rhythm of the gallery and its residents, indicate that time runs like sand through an hourglass.

And then there were those clues disseminated throughout the space. Just as, after irrigating the exhibition, the water emptied outside onto the sidewalk, much else here invited visitors to look beyond the space of the exhibition—for instance, to hear the murmur of the cities (Amsterdam, Paris, New York) where Bock left sheets of paper stuck in closed windows overnight, half inside, half outside, in order to create the works that are each titled Recording Paper, followed by the name of the city where it was made. And the night has left its mark: Yellowed, bent, sometimes visibly weathered, these sheets, now framed behind glass, are the proof both of a measure (night as a standard meter) and of what lies beyond the walls of art. “Paris is dense; it is difficult to find forgotten or unwritten corners there. So I wanted to make spatial extensions—but these extensions refer especially to mental projections. Air and water lend themselves perfectly to that,” says Bock—perfectly describing a magic formula for this fluid art.

Claire Moulène

Translated from French by Molly Stevens.