GOING NUCLEAR | Sebastian Brandl | Cologne | Germany

Maulwurf Verwer_Brandl 2011
Raquel Maulwurf (drawings), Birgit Verwer (installations)

Opening exhibition Friday 8 April 2011 at 19:00 Hrs
Exhibition 9 April - 28 May 2011
Special opening hours Wednesday 13 April 2011, 18:00 - 21:00 Hrs

Sebastian Brandl

Brüsseler Str. 4
50674 Cologne
T +49 (0)221.222 99 793
F +49 (0)221.222 99 792
M +49 (0)178.925 2198

Opening hours:
Tu-Fr 13-18 Hrs
Sa 12-16 Hrs
and by appointment

Keulen 2011-14

Raquel Maulwurf / Birgit Verwer

Under the highly topical appearing title ’Going Nuclear’ the exhibition brings together works by two young artists living in the Netherlands. But the focus of the exhibition is not the still fragile situation of the damaged nuclear power plant in Japan, although, of course, it is nowadays nearly impossible to ignore this fact in light of this. In this synopsis, that had been arranged way beforehand of this worst-case scenario, the focus concentrates rather on fundamental thoughts about the Condition Humaine. Achievements of the supposedly progressive civilizing process, be it a blessing or a curse, are provided in a creative and joyful way.

Raquel Maulwurf, who lives now in Amsterdam was born in 1975 in Madrid and finished her studies 1997 in Arnhem. With seductively beautiful, monumental charcoal drawings, the artist captures the bright light, that spotlights at times our dance on a volcano, on large museum board. The references made in these images are all too familiar: war zones, debris fields, anti-aircraft fire and hails of bombs on large cities are vivid scenarios of the human destruction. There are those ’lightning incidents’, to refer here to a concept of the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, in which the world loses its colour. Obviously, it results from an incessant urge of man to destroy itself, his species and its environment.

With her black and white series on various topics Maulwurf transforms her way of world exploration towards a self-questioning. The manically drawing process goes however hand in hand with the exploration of her own destructive potentiality. Hence in this artistic act the white cardboard base mutates - taken to extreme - into a battlefield. A clear statement is, contrary to the general expectation, therefore, initially not given. For the current exhibition Raquel Maulwurf selected works from the series ’Going Nuclear’ which she started in 2008 and which show the well-known eerily beautiful, but above all nightmarish images of nuclear tests at various places in the world. With the Mururoa and Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, or Semipalatinsk in today’s Kazakhstan extinguished places are designated, which can no longer be visited by man much less inhabited. Only the traditional pictures tell more of their presence.

Birgit Verwer, born in 1972 and living in The Hague, puts the question of what the human mind is capable of in the centre of her artistic work. In her sculptural collages fragments of reality are represented, appropriated, incorporated, invented, manipulated and distorted. Here, the medium is less important than the urgency of the matter. This is to emphasize that we should revise the use of our symbols, values and models in a self-contained, critical and creative way linked with the invitation for an open dialogue about our world and about us. Knowledge, power and subjectivity of man are to be debated.

The logic of the systems and the universal context of delusion should be confronted in a pointed way and space for open human interaction should be claimed. For the gallery space in Cologne Birgit Verwer created another version of her ticket counters. A collage of disposed pieces of furniture, in which two stuffed foxes, representing the two souls in our hearts, offer tickets for misplaced priorities. The fact that we humans cannot live without illusions and therefore willingly content ourselves with simulacra is testified by another installation (
Three Two One, 2011) which represents an automobile, such as children piece together with utensils of the home furnishings. In this kind of vehicle they make long journeys to the most remote corners of the world without getting anywhere. Obviously there is always a margin between form, an essence and a reality to correspond. Error and truth can just not be completely separated from each other.

So, how far could we enter into an age and understanding of the world, doing without myths, ideologies and illusions, and consequently without general truths that are relevant to us? Raquel Maulwurf and Birgit Verwer do not avoid those particular questions. The common characteristic of the two artists is the formal and sovereign way of articulating of their commitment, which at the same time means a radical rejection of the belief in progress and
its affirmative ideology.

Harald Uhr