Johanna von Monkiewitsch at Berthold Pott / Cologne

von Monkiewitsch

Pass On

10 – Dec 16, 2017

Berthold Pott
An der Schanz 1a
50735 Cologne

Images courtesy the artist and Berthold Pott
Johanna von Monkiewitsch is a light artist
in the most elementary sense. By revealing the very essence of light with the
help of various media – media which are, in turn, dependent on light to produce
images – she, on the one hand, propagates a medial self-reflection and, on the
other hand, conducts a highly precise investigation into the eternal dichotomy
between image and reality. With her folded paper works (since 2007), the artist
creates impressive documents of how this fundamental research can be
transformed into a visually highly attractive and philosophically laden picture
puzzle. The starting point is a sheet of paper in a standardised format, which
the artist folds in several places, only to unfold it again. The sheet of paper
with fold lines is then photographed in various light situations so that ‘its
haptics manifest not only its material characteristics and
three-dimensionality, but also highly specific lighting effects’ (von Monkiewitsch).

These digital photos are then reproduced,
often as significantly enlarged pigment prints which, in turn, are folded along
exactly the same lines as the original folds, so that the real shadows of the
new folds duplicate the shadows of the original folds. This concatenation leads
to a paradox situation, since, here, the real shadows imitate the reproduced
shadows and thus invert the relationship between image and reality.

Like Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Johanna von Monkiewitsch’s picture does not
slavishly follow and thus merely reproduce the specifications of reality, but
rather the reality of the pigment print follows the specifications of the image
and its spectrally duplicated shadow lines. Within this process, photography is
a transportation medium for a form of light art, in which the image becomes its
own object, and this object becomes, in turn, tangible as an image born out of
it. On the one hand, this form of light transfer transforms the reproduced
light into its own object and, on the other hand, documents the act of
transposition, which lends it an almost spectral manifestation.

This double strategy also plays an
essential role in the two video projections, which the artist developed for her
exhibition in the Museo Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. The first film depicts the
direct sunlight shining into the Palazzo Fortuny which wandered through the
space – nearly imperceptible to the naked eye – during a time span of twenty
minutes, while the second film depicts sunlight on the water of the laguna
reflected, as it has been since many centuries, as a light apparition on the
ceiling of the Doge’s Palace. With their electric light, the visibly installed
beamers create a manifestation of a natural light situation which is
theoretically also visible at precisely the same time in a different location,
namely in Venice – while simultaneously referring to a completely different
status. Whereas the sunlight and its reflection in the Palazzo Fortuny and the
Doge’s Palace are inextricably tied to these spaces and document within these
the unity of time and space, the transported light is liberated from this
context and formulates its own, completely autonomous light-time, bundled in
the form of a loop. Although on the one hand strictly documentary, these
projections are, on the other hand, essentially absolutely abstract and thus
demonstrate that they do not mere deal with the issue of reproduction, but
rather with that of appearance.