Merlin Carpenter
Isa Genzken
Fabian Ginsberg
Hannes Heinrich
Seb Koberstädt
Klaus Merkel
Reinhard Mucha
Gerda Scheepers
Ulrike Schulze
Mirko Tschauner
Heimo Zobernig

A show curated by Jana Schröder and Alexander Warhus

Opening Friday May 17, 6-9 pm
May 18 - July 5, 2024

"what is grit? I see it all over this subreddit and someone’s joked about it to me IRL. It sounds like some superpower?? Is it a code word? Does it give you invincibility at the cost of your sanity? Does it give you academic success at the cost of hygiene? I’ve tried to search it up on google but the tab always closes and a new tab pops up with garfield riding the boiler express shaking his head at me??? pls send help"
Due-Shoe5522 - 10 mo. ago (posted on

What does it mean to name an exhibition True Grit? It means dealing with this term and, as a result, with motivation, perseverance, and determination that are always in service to a greater purpose. It’s not about the specific task, it’s about the why, about the big picture. True Grit brings together works by Merlin Carpenter, Isa Genzken, Fabian Ginsberg, Hannes Heinrich, Seb Koberstädt, Klaus Merkel, Meuser, Reinhard Mucha, Gerda Scheepers, Ulrike Schulze, Mirko Tschauner, and Heimo Zobernig. Sculptures, paintings, photography, collages, and drawings are all brought together in this profusion.

On the one hand, the exhibition reflects an absolutely open approach to materials and practices: the works range from beer and cocoa or fabric on canvas all the way to raw metal and delicate industrial scrap. On the other hand, the works express through their artistic qualities an urge to elicit radical disruptions in the act of viewing. Complex processes provoke a detachment from existing realities and thought processes. No longer are there any entrenched views; there remains only the motivation to do things differently.

The quality of resoluteness suggested by grit emerges through the very dualities revealed in the works: interconnectedness and isolation, the fleeting and the ever-lasting, socio-political statement and narrative. Isa Genzken’s work Untitled (2016) deals with precisely these diverse combinations. In this collage, the conceptual connections between popular culture and personal experience are given form. These impressions are enframed, their mass held in place by a photograph of a rococo frame. In the sculpture L (2020) by Ulrike Schulze, the lapidary chipboard and hard steel meet and form a unit, one supporting the other as they communicate between themselves.

And, of course, the word grit always carries within it the chance of being confused with the word grid, that is, a raster or other visual pattern. That which provides stability, but also suggests ruptures, or cracks within. Such grids can also be found throughout the exhibited works: they are orientations, sorted fractures; upheavals. Merlin Carpenter’s The Washington Post (2023) utilizes empty spaces, black-and-white fields that define an openness inviting the viewer to become involved with the works. Heimo Zobernig’s pixel structures and linguistic concepts reveal an intention to engage with reality itself, not with mere representation.

Because reality is always both: grid and grit. You need the one in order to realize, reflect upon, and reinterpret the other. Such patterns create a sense of orientation, security, and control. At the same time, the slightest rupture in them can lead us to be motivated and determined to rethink our patterns of behavior and interactions with the world. And, for this reason, an exhibition can be named True Grit. Because grit represents the courage you must summon to be able to break free from the patterns you’ve constructed for yourself or that have been built for you. To be able to overcome your fears of the consequences of your own actions. To be able to create a new reality that is neither predictable nor coherent, but which will always be irreconcilable, often a little incomprehensible and a bit of a bumpy ride.

Marlene A. Schenk, May 2024

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