Hamburg

  View of “Cordula Ditz,” 2016. Foreground: One Uses Her Beauty for Love! One Uses Her Lure for Blood! (detail), 2016. Background, from left: Mirror, Mirror / Droopy Emoji (Helpless), 2016; Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (detail), 2016.

View of “Cordula Ditz,” 2016. Foreground: One Uses Her Beauty for Love! One Uses Her Lure for Blood! (detail), 2016. Background, from left: Mirror, Mirror / Droopy Emoji (Helpless), 2016; Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (detail), 2016.

Cordula Ditz

GALERIE CONRADI

  View of “Cordula Ditz,” 2016. Foreground: One Uses Her Beauty for Love! One Uses Her Lure for Blood! (detail), 2016. Background, from left: Mirror, Mirror / Droopy Emoji (Helpless), 2016; Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (detail), 2016.

A montage of cinematic anxiety-dream imagery, a visual space composed of B-movie and trashy horror footage, Cordula Ditz’s solo show “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” was dominated by a two-channel video installation of the same title, dated 2016, with its large-format projections, one on a wall, the other on a screen set up in the middle of the room. Rather than tracing the arc of an action, the video unfolds in the mode of free association; one focus of Ditz’s selection was on stereotypical images of the artist and of femininity. Isolated from their original contexts but still informed by the specific aesthetic of exploitation films, the clips were deftly woven into an absurd theater of the filmic unconscious.

For Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, Ditz began with three hundred full-length films, excising scenes the way a sculptor might remove parts of a block, whittling the videos down to twenty, then five, then two hours, grouping and regrouping individual sequences until she obtained a final version of just over eight minutes. The interplay between composition and decomposition in this complex process of reduction informs the structure of the work: “The mass of material I edited at the same time,” Ditz told me, “made narrative elements and individual storylines fade into the background early on, while other aspects—pictorial qualities, motifs—came to the fore.” Each of the works has its own sound track, which Ditz composed partly out of samples from her sources, partly out of synthesizer sounds. In the exhibition, the sonic fields blended together as a shifting and asynchronous field of interferences.

In visual terms, Ditz’s work makes precise reference to spatial constellations. This is evident both in the composition of the films themselves—see, for example, how her editing undercuts, lends rhythmic dynamism to, and remodulates spatial dramaturgies present in the source material—and in the arrangement of the works in the gallery, where simple but adroit choices produced multifocal image spaces. One important element in this regard was Mirror, Mirror / Droopy Emoji (Helpless), 2016, a work based on a mirror of the sort physical-therapy patients and dancers use to observe and improve their technique. Ditz had the movable object covered with semitransparent reflective “spy foil” and placed it in the room so that it presented partially overlapping images of both channels of Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye. Depending on one’s vantage point, the frame captured fragmented pictorial encounters between viewers wandering around the gallery and the works themselves, each appearing either as a mirror image or an actual physical body behind the surface. Ditz’s ingenious arrangement sometimes made it difficult to distinguish between projection, reflection, and reality.

One Uses Her Beauty for Love! One Uses Her Lure for Blood!, 2016, a carpet printed with a collage of women’s portraits and the titular phrase, turned the floor into a pictorial medium. Its color gradient, a spectrum ranging from green to pink, purple, and blue, was not computer-generated; instead, Ditz collaged pictures of polar lights, which appealed to her because of their fairly random distribution of hues, the slight graininess of the photographs, and the subliminal presence of a natural phenomenon. “No random generator can produce the contingency of nature,” Ditz notes, “and contingency—even flaws—can be crucial to our impression that we are looking at reality as well as our sensation of beauty.”

In a very different way, Don’t Complain and Don’t Explain, 2015, an unframed, roughly gestural painting in watery grays and blues on two large-format canvases—the horizontal seam clearly visible—imparted a similar sense of incalculable intuition. In contrast to the immaterial projections and the industrial manufacture of the objects, its tangible physicality conveyed a sense of the artist’s hand. Its uncovering of an unconscious buried in the expressive register, however, made it an unexpected companion to the video works.

Jens Asthoff

Translated from German by Gerrit Jackson.