Press Release of the Exhibition
Jun 1st > Jul 3rd 2010
Sabine Hornig’s creative work focuses on the relationship between reality and reproduction, which she communicates using concepts such as image, space and architecture. She reproduces architectural elements, removing them from their context and placing them in the exhibition space. She sometimes incorporates large-format photos that depict identical parts of buildings. Her photographs show windows that reflect whatever is opposite them. Their large formats and precise realization result in the photographs turning into “windows” on the gallery wall themselves.
On an abstract level, these elements correspond to a problem of continuing relevance today. Since the Renaissance, the depiction of the window has been the metaphor for our perception of central perspective. The necessary questioning of this convention is a traditional task of art. Sabine Hornig examines the issue in an extremely disciplined way. While her “sculptures with photography” – probably a safe term for most of her works – define their own space in relation to the viewer, their interlacing and mirroring calls into question conventional notions of space. Their dimensions are always human and yet authoritative as well. The works’ proportions require that they be taken seriously, but never overwhelm the spectator. In the best sense of the word, they provide a counterpart. However, this counterpart acts like a boundary. Both the photographs and the sculptural elements refuse to let the viewer in and thereby call into question the vantage point: Where is the observer – opposite the image or even in it? What images confront the viewer, and how is reality constructed within them? Sabine Hornig poses such important questions with considerable cleverness.
Instead of a didactic approach, she offers powerful and convincing material beauty.
Thomas Eller on Sabine Hornig in Artnet, 2008
The fascination for the shop front is a symptom of a growing economy and of a concern for visibility, that comes with modernity. In her series of windows Hornig tells us of this sort of voyeurism avid for novelty that finds something in the transition process but not a finished product, placing the viewer in a state of reflection. In a certain manner this is an emptying of modernity, a criticism of its initial utopias in both political systems east and west simultaneously.
The fact that these images are presented as still lifes proves this. Any still life is a symbol of a meaningless vanitas, of a sin of lust, and is expressed in elements such as the skull and the mirror, both symbolizing death and vanity, but especially impermanence. An example of this question is the allusion to Berlin, a symbol of the whole process of destruction and later reconstruction, a dystopia that emerges from a political and economic utopia the disappearance of which may even so seem promising. In a time of economic recession, these empty spaces may be the beginning of something and not the end.
In Hornig's work there is a fascination by this power of illusion, which has been present in the plastic arts since the beginning. Due to this capacity to replace the world of essences by appearance, Plato condemned all forms of plastic and visual arts, relegating them all to the world of the simulacrum. The copy, as Benjamin states, makes the
work of art lose its aura.
In Hornig, through the use of trompe l´oeil and through the game of perception played with the spectator, we see that the capacity for illusion, unlike the difficult past that condemned it, is indeed a profound essence of all art, and that the copy is a form of granting new life to the existing world. Indeed, Art does not come from something that has no origin; rather it reinvents the world that surrounds us.
Like an illusionist, Hornig is also a player who weaves ironic comments on the scales, on sculpture, on the dysfunctional functionality of spaces and, above all, plays with the spectator’s perception. She plays with the illusion of the interior/exterior, solid/ephemeral, transparent/opaque dichotomies, among others. The opaque and the transparent, in the sense that here the illusion of transparency is an analogy for the fact that despite our living in a world of the everything seen (as exemplified by Foucault in the panoptic system or Lipovetsky in his study on the culture of the screen), we can never really know the totality of the world. However, instead of that vain promise that cannot be fulfilled, we may get to know an infinite world of possibilities. Inspired by the pictorial tradition of the XVII century, Hornig’s attempt to counter the single perspective inherited from the Renaissance, of which the window is a metaphor, has to do with this fact.
In her works there are multiple perspectives of the gaze, infinite possibilities of reconstruction. This is the origin of the meaning of her abstraction, the offer of a multiple terrain of interpretations that enrich and complexify her work. In order to understand it there is a whole process of mobility of the gaze that demands a suspension of disbelief, as Coleridge states. The magic of the virtual plane that she presents us with is that the image and time are in a single moment , here and now, explaining the inspiration for the title of the exhibition.
Just then, just in this one moment, collapsing time and space in an art that is simultaneously current and anachronistic.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Jun 29 > Jul 28 2007
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to present Landscape Negative, Sabine Hornig’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
From the inception of her work in the late 1990s, Sabine Horning has engaged in exploring specific spatial and perspectival concerns and the blurring of the distinctions between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space. Employing photography and sculpture in equal measure throughout her practice, Hornig supports and expands each of these mediums by cross-referencing one with the other.
For her debut with the gallery in Lisbon, Hornig will be presenting one of her preferred subjects, a series of large, colour photographs of barren or abandoned shop windows, where she conflates issues of site and sight, and a new sculpture of a folding screen depicting a colour negative image of a waste landscape.
For Sabine Hornig, the window represents a basic, transparent, grid-like system that incorporates her ideas on the gaze, view and perspective, which oscillate between image and sculpture. Hornig finds the windows she uses in her photographs incidentally in modern cities, mostly in Berlin. Intentionally made visible or invisible, the window functions as a prevalent frame that contains certain flows, a certain motility between interior and exterior, public and private, transparency and distortion, open and closed space, and associated with this last pairing of terms, flight and confinement. Through her activity of foregrounding the transparency (rather than the transparentness) of the palimpsestual threshold of the glass/window in her photographs, Hornig obliges us to become aware of glass (by means of Plexiglas) as a complex structure, a responsive surface and the window as a doubling boundary.
In the recent suite of photographs of vacant shop windows, the artist not only expands on our awareness of the optics of the window as a sill, but raises these abandoned commercial spaces from their state of quiescent limbo to places where, in their emptiness, we are given reign to imagine past identity and future existence, where our emotions swing between melancholy and hope in the face of our ever-changing, mutant cities.
In this special series now on view in the gallery, Hornig provides her viewers once more with glances of interiors from outside on the street. In these windows however, the interiors, walls and floors oscillate between varying degrees of demolition and reconstruction; the bricks lie bare in the background of what was once a clean constructed display window. In these pictures, Hornig foregrounds how something has been brutally stripped or cleared away from these sites. What is now given is a dark burrow (‘Window with No Floor’, ‘Window with No Back Wall’) where the constructiveness and sharp angles of the architecture dissolves and merges with a landscape of urban wilderness, a city that superimposes itself as a reflection in the glass. Added to this reflection are the interiors of high contrast. Simultaneously very dark and very bright, the sources of light and dark seem to interact and permeate each other, suggesting the transition between day and night.
The sculptural work displayed in the main gallery is also about inversion. Hornig will show a 5-part folding screen with a landscape which appears on closer inspection to be that of a waste site. The image, being a negative, turns the forms that punctuate this horizon into something abstract: the plastic into rock-like formations, or what may come across as a vibrant, fascinating, brazenly highlighted heap of consumer vegetation.
Refuse, the mangled by-product of civilisation, is an invaluable source of information on the intimate habits, behaviour and status of people, whom artists have sought to unearth and read as text throughout time. Sabine Hornig is no exception. For her, the dross resulting from the systematic plundering and wasting of the earth’s resources stands as a mirror for consumer society to examine and admire itself. As such, rather than depict a lavish and appeasing scene of nature undisturbed, Hornig presents jettisoned materials in hues of gold that play with the eye. Dangerous and fascinating, apocalyptical and seductive, beautiful and unsightly, Hornig’s waste landscapes are a staggering reminder of the human and creative conditions: progress and abandonment, creation and waste, and an ultimately doubled perspective of beauty and the uncanny.
Sabine Hornig received her BA and MFA from the Hochschule der Kuenste in Berlin. Hornig was the recipient of the Karl Schmidt-Ruttholf Stipendum in 1998, among other awards, and from 1999-2000 was a participating artist in the P.S.1 International Studio Program in New York. Hornig’s work has been featured in several major exhibitions, most recently “ Made in Germany”, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover, 2007 (group), Reality Bites, Mildred Lane Lemper Art Museum, St. Louis, USA, 2007 (group); Constructing New Berlin, Bass Museum Miami, 2007 (group); The Second Room, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, 2005 (solo); Beyond Delirious: Architecture in Selected Photographs from the Ella Fontanals Collection, Ella Fontanals Cisneros Collection, Miami, 2005 (group); Colección de Fotografía Contemporánea de Telefónica, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, Spain, 2005 (group); and Projects 78, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2003 (solo), among others.