Who is Andrea van der Straeten?
Andrea van der Straeten is a conceptual artist with a surprising visual vocabulary and experimental approach, using photography, graphics, film and video, installation as well as auditive and performative techniques since the 1980ies.
Born in Germany she lives in Vienna since 1987.
Her most recent artworks will be on show at Gallery Raum mit Licht in March 2022, an exhibition that has been rescheduled due to the Covid pandemic within the framework of FOTO WIEN: Andrea van der Straeten – Remote Horizon.
She chose Hands Up, 1994/2019 to be part of DOMINO – a work that might encourage to take a closer look at the importance of the human hand in different contexts.
What looks like results of a photoshop process are in fact black and white analogue negatives, enlarged in the darkroom on pre-colored photographic papers.
Back then I loved working in the quiet darkroom for days and nights in a run, experimenting with negatives or sometimes with other materials as well, like graphics on overhead foil to enlarge images on photographic paper.
Those graphics that the rabbits in Paralysed Fertility might have swallowed for example show different intra-uterine devices for contraception which have been developed since the beginning of the 20th century.
It was the experiment, that fascinated me and the manual work - though I was concentrated on the most perfect outcome – which years later would be so easy to achieve with the progressing digital techniques.
There is a German saying about somebody, who is a clumsy craftsman:
Jemand hat 2 linke Hände. In English: his/her fingers are all thumbs.
The objects in these images have no thumbs at all.
Hands Up in its original version is one of quite some photographic works the artist developed between 1989 and the mid 1990ies.
They all have in common the particular strong and vivid colors and that the images blur the boundaries between graphics, photography, installation or sculpture.
The company stopped the production of these colored papers decades ago, so similar works to Hands Up like Automaton, Paralysed Fertility, Innocent Bystanders, W.H.M are unique pieces and now mostly in museum collections as well as in some private collections.
With the concept of Hands Up back in 1994 I referred to the increasing importance of digitalisation, as the photographic images were part of an installation, completed by a computer.
The computer was offering the visitors the possibility to flip through 10 digitalised graphics that show the importance of the human hand in various cultural fields.
With a mouse-click they could print the items they liked most and together with a folder take them home – as a free personal catalogue.
So I would say that I tried with this installation to reflect this most important technical and cultural change in the way we produce items or think social structures.
Starting with a drawing by Albrecht Dürer via reflections on right- and left-handedness from a book on Neuroscience to Venetian needlepoint lace or a prehistoric cave painting: it is a wild ride.
Above film was filmed with a hand held camera by Thomas Smetana.
When Hands Up was chosen for a group show 2019/2020 in China and the curator recommended sending exhibition prints rather than the originals I got curious in this process to look again at something I had done exactly 25 years earlier.
I wanted to see how close the digital images could get to the originals.
So the prints for this exhibition were done in Vienna but mounted in Chongqing, China in a very careful and precise way - on Aluminium with a frame on the backside.
A tiny pinhole pierces the image, through which – when installed on the wall - a nail seems to hold the glove stretcher and the image itself.
The fact that this work has been chosen for an exhibition in the worlds upcoming oeconomic superpower might seem unexpected, but it was also interesting to see the installation in a different economic and social context.
A context, where technologies of the highest standards coexist with finest handicraft and sometimes archaic procedures and habits in quasi parallel worlds.
„Descrete Austrian Secrets“ has been one of the first museum shows world wide that has been closed due to the Covid pandemic - already in January last year.
The lockdowns during this pandemic slow down the work process, sometimes the energy too, but at the same time they also open up space for new ideas and new options.
Like showing works online – in a viewing room as well as in the gallery.
Wie soll man fliegen, wenn man sich beschwert?!
I came across this quote some years ago in an interview with Jürgen Teller.
The play on words that I like so much unfortunately gets lost by translating it to English –
Here a rough translation and my interpretation in English:
How to fly high with heavy thoughts [complains] dragging you down?
Currently Andrea van der Straeten is working on different projects and finalising the works for her next exhibition.
What to expect? As far as can be said now: Less color, more particular observations and astonishing objects in XXXLarge and XXXSmall.
#andrea_van_der_straeten #raummitlichtgallery #munchiesartclub #viewingroom #contemporaryart #experimentalart #exhibitions #available #artworks #artclubstore #photography #installation #artistbooks