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Solo show: Benjamin Bergmann - Twist and Shout (over)

8 November 2013 until 18 January 2014
  Benjamin Bergmann - Twist and Shout
Benjamin Bergmann
  Nusser & Baumgart

Nusser & Baumgart
Steinheilstr. 18
80333 Munich
Germany (city map)

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tel +49 (0)89 - 22 18 75

Nusser & Baumgart are pleased to announce a new solo exhibition featuring works by Benjamin Bergmann (*1968), opening during the Munich Art Weekend. "twist and shout" showcases sculptures and installations which have mostly never been seen before by the public. During the Munich Art Weekend, an open table tennis tournament with the artist will take place on November 10, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among all participants, a piece of the artist will be raffled off.

Benjamin Bergmann's sculptures, installations, and performance art pieces repeatedly point toward the ambivalent nature of that which we accept as reality, merging different levels of meaning with each other and then utterly abandoning the recipient to confront the ambiguity that remains on their own. Often, he produces parables with many possible meanings, conjuring up very concrete and at the same time universal experiences by combining initially unambiguous formal elements with an evocative title narrative. Almost always, the observer will undergo several stages of appreciating his pieces: an at first steady, intimate gaze gives way to amused surprise and often leads to pensive ambiguity, in which almost all emotional states become possible. The artist is consistently successful in disrupting the observer's habitual perspective with treacherous certainty, and in uncovering new dimensions within familiar settings.

In many of his works, an expertly crafted air of irony or absurdity is inherent. They deal with situations in which the boundaries between laughter and despair are perilously thin. The anthropologist and philosopher Helmuth Plessner defines the function of humour as being a reaction to the ambivalence of human existence. This is the nexus of being that Bergmann attempts to capture. In one of his pieces, Hilfe von oben ("help from above"), a thick, massive rope hangs from a hole in the ceiling. The aesthetic of the rope hanging seemingly loose and unburdened through the ceiling conveys an alluring and irresistible impulse to simply give it a pull. The title adds a second layer to this piece, strengthening this desire and promising the enticing prospect of universal assistance: "help from above" for everyone. However, the material consistency of the piece in itself - the rope is cast from bronze - destroys the alluring hope from just moments before.

Addressing the observer directly and including their reactions is an inherent element of Bergmann's oeuvre, which imbues his sculptures and installations with a certain performative quality. ... With other pieces, the compelling title is interwoven with the work itself, as is the case with Ring my Bell, where it is simply not possible to sound the two bells connected by one rope - even though the title would seem to order the observer to do so.

In one of his recent works, Bergmann plays with the visitor's perception. Twins consists of two monumental plaster towers, similar in appearance to the former New York World Trade Center. The surface of the towers is kept in a radiant white, with countless, uniform windows and stories, lending the sculpture a whole new magnitude of plasticity. Standing at over two meters tall, the towers are reduced to their most iconic attributes and convey a compact feeling of material and monumental substance. Bergmann's choice to keep the towers completely white and shape them with absolute precision evokes associations with innocence and immaculate perfection. As is the case with this artwork, the entire exhibition is defined thematically by a strong duality. Bergmann expresses this not only through formal aspects, but also through his chosen content and methods. Uncertainties are dispersed deliberately throughout, the ambiguity of tragedy and comedy is ubiquitous, and the dual relationship between artwork and observer is an important feature. Time and again, Bergmann manages to incorporate a ‚double floor', i.e., a concealing element in his pieces, presenting a skillful challenge for visitors. As implied by the title of the exhibition, Bergmann is making his audience alternate between "twisting" and "shouting" - wrenching them from ecstatic exclamation to mortal grief and back again.

Text: Dana Weschke (excerpt)

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