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Günther Dankl | Sabine Groschup - The Hidden

Sabine Groschup is an extremely versatile artist, who feels at home in many artistic fields, be it film, visual arts or literature. Above all, she is an artist who loves to tell stories – something that becomes primarily evident in her literature work and animated films but can also be found in her visual art. She has presented her work in public in a series of group as well as in solo exhibitions.

Her exhibition "The Hidden" reflects Sabine Groschup's versatility: Three separate parts, being in relation to and blending into one another, serve as a manifestation of Groschup's principle of a cross-media use of the exhibition room: She uses a video installation, one object and eleven embroidered items via video stills on Molino canvas.

The exhibition's title invites the visitor to discuss the motifs of the hidden and the concealed but Sabine Groschup also plays with the visitor's expectations by illustrating these themes in her works on a visual and, also, on an acoustic level. When entering the room, we are immediately confronted with a floor-length and constantly moving Molino canvas that is diagonally placed across the room. A video is projected onto this canvas, showing various warehouse or depot rooms filled with objects that are covered in fabrics. We sometimes see bits and pieces of these objects, but we can only catch a glimpse as they quickly disappear again behind the fabrics. These moments are too short for us to grasp what objects and items are hiding underneath. The room itself presents itself in a similar way as we can never perceive its total entity but rather experience it from the perspective of the covered items. Being outsiders, we would like to know what is concealed by these fabric sculptures; at the same time, however, we seem to be inside the objects, looking at the world through the fabrics. Inner and outer aspects, concealed and disclosed items, clearly visible and shadowy things blend into each other and, at the same time, form an entity that is accentuated by the sounds of the camera and a fan that is installed behind the canvas. Due to this fan, the canvas is constantly floating and so we get a sneak peek at the world behind – if only for a split of a second. Playing with these hidden elements, Sabine Groschup deliberately underlines the voyeuristic tendencies of her visitors.

In this installation, called "When Molino Catches the Wind", the artist – who studied architecture with Wilhelm Holzbauer and painting and film with Maria Lassing from 1978 to 1988 – plays with contexts taken from the history of film as well as with purely formal and spatial conditions. She takes inspiration from the thriller and horror genre where suspension is often created by use of covered pieces of furniture, floating fabrics or long almost infinite camera shots in narrow hallways. At the same time, the artists uses her camera to create new spaces and images by playing with light and shadow and so visually and formally illustrates the suspension resulting from the camera shot.

The playful approach of "When Molino Catches the Wind", in which Groschup plays with the visitor's expectation, is continued in her series "The Hidden #1-11", in which the artist combines video stills from her central work with embroidered elements of various motors, plugs or other technical parts that are placed onto a washed and used Molino canvas. Motors are usually associated with dynamic and speed, dirt and pollution. But as the motors are only embroidered, the association is reversed and we rather think of comfort, bourgeoisie, tidiness and happiness. This embroidery was skilfully applied onto the canvas stitch by stitch; an approach that contradicts the autonomous element of art and adds a certain sense of humour and poetry to Sabine Groschup's work. The embroidered motors are put onto the printed Molino as if they were precious jewels, directing the visitor's curiosity to the elements concealed behind.

The visitor is confronted with another work, Groschup's mixed media installation "Komischer Vogel im Käfig sing (Weird Birdie in the Cage, Sing)", places in the gallery's two windows that are facing the street and are separated by the entrance door. An old bird cage is put into one of the windows; instead of a bird, a handmade cushion with a "Technics"-speaker embroidered onto it has been placed in the cage. What we do not see at first is the small camera sewn into the speaker that records every visitor examining the cage. This picture of the visitor "behind bars" is then transmitted to a monitor installed into the second window, but can never be seen by the visitor himself. The item therefore creates a link to the modern police state, a reminiscence of Nam June Paik's famous installation "Cage in Cage": In the 1990s, Paik made several versions of this work that was designed as homage to John Cage; Groschup herself took lessons with Paik at the Düsseldorfer Kunstakademie where she was a visiting student in 1984. Sabine Groschup's second solo exhibition at Michaela Stock's gallery shall be perceived as a stringent and coherent entity emphasizing hidden, concealed and unexpected elements both in her work and in the visitor. The artist visualizes aspects which we can otherwise only assume or guess by letting her art move, flow and unite on many different levels - she does so not only in terms of content, but further includes the visitor into the tense interplay between the sudden and the unexpected.


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