Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany
The centrepiece of Alicia Frankovich’s exhibition is a two-channel video installation with sound, entitled Outside Before Beyond (2017), projected onto two large curtains, one at each end of the Kunstverein’s darkened space. Entering alone, I see how the curtains have been chosen to let the image shine through, creating a doubling effect on the wall behind. One projection contains images of plants at night and torch-lit hands making signs. In mosaic-like abstraction, shapes merge into one another: an atom symbol, a skate and a big cat.
After the video ends, a programmed spotlight illuminates the artist’s works in the space, one by one. In the semi-darkness, they are initially unidentifiable; once illuminated, the time given to observe them is limited, like a slideshow in space. On the wall, a series of large-format prints is attached to the same scaffolding as the spotlights themselves: the surface of a carrot, abstract enough to resemble an aerial photograph (World Is Home Planet: This Is Purple Carrot, 2017) and an image of the pattern on a pair of leggings (Fruit and Legs: Tights, 2017). These appear both in the video and are placed in the space: grotesquely elongated, stretched over a scaffolding stele in Tights (2017).
There are other works dealing with light and kinetics itself: a Perspex sphere containing blocks of chalk that seems to move slightly because of the peculiar turning of the light it reflects onto the wall (Even the Jellyfish, it’s Perfect, 2017). The spotlight moves onto a small fan that keeps a silk curtain in movement and whose brief appearance explains the gentle humming that can be heard in the space (The Female has Undergone Several Manifestations II, 2015). Finally, the curtains are revealed by spotlights one at a time. Then darkness starts all over again. ‘13’59’’’ is written on the wall outside: the duration of one cycle of the installation. At one point there is soundtrack-like music: tones paired for dramatic effect. Then comes a sunset and projected, for a moment, are images of actors or performers: a reference both to the artist’s previous performative works and also, perhaps, to the viewer’s body as it moves inquiringly around the space.
The individual elements in Frankovich’s immersive, choreographed exhibition present a precise selection of formats and associations: animated nature, humankind, technology, time, distortion, materiality. But it is not easy to deconstruct their interplay. Frankovich eludes a conventional alphabet or taxonomy. Instead, she speaks in one language about things that are not easy to translate into another: light and time, the Earth and its animate nature – and, especially, about the human, rational-scientific view of all this. But she also speaks of an intuitive and physical way of looking.
There is an aesthetic at work here - not only in direct terms of surfaces and colours, but also some kind of spinning, inner maelstrom. The press release refers to it as a ‘refusal of typological thinking’, which is about the only thing that makes sense when you go beyond ‘sense’.
And that’s exactly what Frankovich is talking about: the double boundary, the semi-permeable curtain or membrane, the quiet rustling of the fan and the creaking of the programmed spotlight, the rigid frame and the movement within it.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell
Main image: Alicia Frankovich, Outside Before Beyond, 2017, installation view Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Duusseldorf 2017. Photograph: Katja Illner
First published in Issue 188