Spor Klübü, Kolonie Wedding e.V. Soldiner Str. 92 13359 Berlin

The Absolute Outside

Spor Klübü, Berlin

Marie von Heyl, TC McCormack, Matthew Noel-Tod, Richard Sides, Oliver Zwink | Curated by TC McCormack

31 January - 7th February, 2015

Review by Suvi Lehtinen

Truth can take two forms

Located within Berlin’s Kolonie Wedding, a concentration of project spaces, Spor Klübü has been around impressively since 2003. Curator TC McCormack cleverly uses Spor Klübu’s rather small and unassuming space to stage ‘The Absolute Outside’, a group show featuring five Berlin and UK based artists.

The exhibition title is borrowed from the French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux, a leading light of speculative realism - a philosophical current, which has become increasingly influential within contemporary art circles in recent years. At the core of Meillassoux’s thinking is the question of how it might be possible to think or imagine the world as it really is, if thought limits us to only seeing how it is for us, hence the term speculative realism. The works in the exhibition represent positively varied approaches to imaging and imagining. Although most of the artists involved were already familiar or playing around with the concepts of speculative realism and object ontology the aim seems to have been to use the prescriptive power of the title as more of a loose and playful starting point, open to various interpretations both by the artists as well as the viewer.

Entering into the rather small space of the Spor Klübü one immediately faces a wall that is constructed diagonally in front of the entrance. This temporary structure, resembling a stage prop in its roughness is the surface for a fragmented collection of images from Marie von Heyl, TC McCormack and Oliver Zwink. The wall acts as a suitably disconcerting introduction to the rest of the exhibition.

A snapshot image of a burning motorboat at the end of a pier in what seems like a holiday resort is placed next to McCormack’s roughly ripped collages. In Marie von Heyl’s print ‘Cabinet’ apparently sleek and recognisable forms become jumbled on closer inspection.

Oliver Zwink’s small-scale photographs form a line across the first exhibition wall. Zwink inserts geographical blocks of color to urban snapshots obscuring any textually identifying signs, seemingly forcing anonymity upon the image even if the actual aesthetic outcome has the reverse effect.

Marie von Heyl’s installation ‘STAY PUT’ built onto the other side of the temporary wall structure creates a formal continuity to her prints. But her interest in objects manages to get beyond the formal and prescriptive, and the objects end up emanating a kind of emotional autonomy.

One of the obvious problems when artists engage with speculative realism is the near impossible space occupied by cultural producers and consumers trying to imagine the unimaginable. Matthew Noel-Tod’s computer animation Castle 3.0 with its slick aesthetics and cultural references isn’t necessarily trying to imagine or image an absolute outside but rather give some sense of inner life to recognisable cultural signifiers.

Directly behind Noel-Tod’s work TC McCormack’s film presents the viewer with a question “What if the truth is a material configuration”, and what if, as Meilassoux might suggest it is contingent. Then it might be possible that “truth can take two forms, the wilderness and salad”. McCormack’s curatorial work on the show follows a similarly playful logic.

The diagonal wall both interrupts and directs ones passage through the space. Spatially and formally the exhibition feels well structured, the works following each other in an evenly paced sequence, accompanied by the sole audio soundtrack emanating from Richard Side’s film ‘Who will wipe the blood’. Side’s film has a sequential construction moving between different scenes set up like a series of experiments with materials and elements; An almost perfect conclusion to the show.

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