1000 Things Happening at The Same Time
curated by Samuel Leuenberger
21.10 – 25.11.2016
Than Hussein Clark
This year’s residents of the Thun Ceramic Residency were Than Hussein Clark, Rochelle Gold- berg, and John Henshaw. All three artists made new works during their time here in Bolzano.
In the over three storeys tall hallway of the Museion’s Atelierhaus, Than Hussein Clark is presenting a group of plaster columns reaching for the ceiling; with branch-like structures affixed to them and 150 balloons floating above them. The installation yearns for the sky. The balloons are imprinted with single letters that, when aligned, read: “It’s amazing, this is the first time… the first time! I’m in love for the first time! So this is it, this terrible feeling“ – a quote from Turgenev’s infamous 19th century play A Month in the Countryside. A ceramic chaise-long also rests in the room, together with a group of wall mounted tiles and other objects that allude to Thomas Mann’s protagonist in Death in Venice. The tale’s account of a man losing his moral standards, of becoming a slave to beauty, a slave to desire – of a man who ultimately finds him- self debased.
During her stay at the Thun Ceramic Ateliers, Rochelle Goldberg made eleven masks and counting. A recurrent subject in her work, these metallic glazed ceramics are frequently shown in conjunction with other structures and materials such as steel or chia seeds, creating their own ecosystem of signifiers around ecological, industrial but equally psychological concerns. Every mask, based on the same initial mould is hand-filled with clay, covered with impressions of synthetic snakeskin and fingerprints before being glazed. In Bolzano, Goldberg experimented with an array of new glazes that had a variety of refractive attributes and, which through their “alterations through repetition“, have gained an uncanny quality. A short walk away from the Atelierhaus, in an imposing building of Italian fascist architecture, the artist has installed five of her masks: mounted against the backside of bookshelves, they stand only a couple feet away from the window, facing the street. The chain-like metal shutters remain suspended and one is only allowed to peak through its geometrically arranged grid to look at the masks, all hung at eye level, all engaging with our gaze, spreading from one window front over to the next.
John Henshaw created a series of works that are directly influenced by his time spent in Bolzano. By way of his daily commute through town, he noticed a series of unfamiliar and weirdly futuristic structures where the city’s facades are painted in pastel colours and its surroundings speak of a Northern European city with industrious pride in craftsmanship. The combination of these observations resulted in a series of fictitious architectural bodies, which „dance and sway in heat“; with organic, cartoon-like forms, they appear slightly out of shape – they breathe and bend under the experimental gust of his hands. To display his works, a twenty meter long tiled bench serves as a plinth, running inside the corridor of Bolzano’s nearby University, along with its more than fifty meter wide window front. The series of miniature buildings, utopian shapes that serve as projectiles for ideas symbolically align with the University’s mission statement to inspire their students to build a new future.
Together, Clark, Goldberg and Henshaw work with the (architectural) body in their own particular ways and in very different scales. They relate a human experience to a larger interior, whether decorative or emotional; to sprawls of possible ways of living; to a more self-reflective notion of how the body is always linked to the structure it occupies; to ways of ascribing recognition to identification itself. A thousand things happening at the same time reel together the abundance of inspiration and processes these works underwent – from conception to production and to their presentation in Bolzano. Through their own methodologies, these three fundamentally different practises illustrate how experimental and different each oeuvre is, linked by the same clay, fired by the same ovens, and made during their shared time at the Thun Ceramic Residency.