View of “Judith Hopf,” 2016. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.

View of “Judith Hopf,” 2016. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.

Judith Hopf

Kaufmann Repetto

View of “Judith Hopf,” 2016. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.

A strange sight greeted visitors to Judith Hopf’s third exhibition at Kaufmann Repetto: two large feet, each made from bricks held together by mortar. Ambiguous objects, the works (both titled Brick-Foot, 2016) have a humorous charge, but situated as they were just outside the gallery doors, they constituted an obstruction.

The show was distributed throughout three spaces and a courtyard. In the first room on the left there were three small concrete serpents, from of the series “Untitled (Serpent),” 2015–. A fourth, smaller snake, Untitled (Serpent), 2016, traversed the wall and peered into the second room, its mouth open in a threatening display of sharp teeth. But a closer look revealed that perhaps they were not quite as menacing as they first seemed, being made of fragments of printed e-mails meticulously folded into triangles. It was possible to make out the names of the artist and Kaufmann Repetto’s staff amid the intervening blue, aquamarine, and green lines used to delineate e-mail communications among several parties. These colors were featured in another work in the second room, titled Untitled (Email Lines), 2016. Comprising three parallel strings of LED lights, one in each hue, suspended from the ceiling and grazing the floor, the work powerfully signifies the circulation of information. The exhibition’s press release referred to Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control, encouraging visitors to associate the recurrent motif of the cement viper with Deleuze’s concept of the creature. Its characteristic movement, the theorist wrote, is a symbol for the contemporary human, who is asked to be flexible and adaptable to the constant physical and mental changes required by a society of control.

It is no accident that the fourth snake stretched from one room into another. In a sense, it was a bridge between two spatiotemporal dimensions, and in this way the creature was a compass pointing to the meaning of the exhibition, which only became evident in the gallery’s third room. Therein, on a pedestal, was a silo-shaped sculpture made from bricks and fitted with terra-cotta arms and a nose (Personification of a Problem, 2015). The work wasn’t installed far from a floor-bound soccer ball (Ball in Remembrance of Annette Wehrmann, 2016), a suitcase on wheels (Brick-Trolley, 2016), and a third foot (Brick-Foot, 2016)—all rendered in brick and terra-cotta. Each of these latter works represented something mobile or something that aids mobility, but here they sat heavily and stubbornly in the space. In the final room, a four-minute video titled More, 2015, seemed to express the artist’s commitment to repositioning herself within the economic and political conditions of Deleuze’s control society. In the video, the planet Earth is seen from a distant bird’s-eye view, surrounded by constellations of stars. From this perspective, the demands and restrictions of our hyperconnected and surveilled world dissolved.

Marco Tagliafierro

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.