Lily Wittenburg at KM / Berlin

Lily Wittenburg / Die Schlafenden, die so liegen, schmeicheln ihren Verkürzungen (The Sleepers Lying Like This Flatter Their Shortenings)

11. December 2021 – 12. February 2022

Mehringplatz 8
10969 Berlin, Germany

Photo copyright: Stefan Haehnel


We are pleased to announce the fourth exhibition of Lily Wittenburg at
KM entitled Die Schlafenden, die so
liegen, schmeicheln ihren Verkürzungen
(“The sleepers lying like this
flatter their shortenings”).


As in earlier shows, Lily Wittenburg reverses the classical concept of
artistic work, in the frame of which the artist usually predetermines how a
picture is supposed to look. Wittenburg, in contrast, makes this decision in a
dialog with the material—but not without determining certain parameters, for
example, the selection of the ground, the format, the frame, or the hanging.


The frieze of identical formats creates a shifting vis-à-vis alluding to
the human scale, which both the artist and the viewers are exposed to and make
contact with. The monumental stele standing vertically on the floor appears to
take up the floor’s variety and coloring, thus charging the entire space with
the dialog of the material process. Different colors and substances clash, mix
with each other, corrode and repel each other, merge, dissolve, reveal or
conceal. The flow velocities vary, at times the liquids freeze, and yet it
appears as if they were already indicating their next aggregate state. At the
border between controllability and the inherent dynamics of the liquids,
including enamels, acids, acrylic paints, chemicals, or glues, Wittenburg
attentively watches what happens and intervenes in a minimal way. What connects
the surfaces? What does the material require? With the attitude of an amateur
who doesn’t want to know how to do it correctly, the artist explores
developments and initiates processes she cannot predict. Processes of
displacement become visible, seemingly irresolvable tensions mount. The artist
does nothing to change this. The confrontation with these states lies solely
with the viewers. They too must endure them.


Integrated in the frieze are three drawings. They appear at once focused
and restless, letting one sense that there is something behind them. Each line
is independent. Velocity directs the voids on the sheet toward a long
rhythmical process. Interruptions in the flow of the ink create room for these
voids. The drawings are therefore as determined as they are open.


The new pictures stand in a close relationship with text and language,
they complement language where there are no words for what is shown. The
visitors can put on headphones and listen to a 20-minute audio piece by the artist.
The only thing that offers conciliation and balance in these works is the
positing of interstices or pauses. Language is an impoprtant factor in this
process. For the artist, this activity and the material provide a linguistic
access. The observation shoots her language to pieces. Something inexpressible
is approached. How will things proceed? What takes place in the mind? What is
at the fore: the pictures or language?


In a dialog with the material, Wittenburg uses her “tactile instinct, an
immersive relationship that complements vision with touch, handling, smell,
contemplation, love, and imagination, and as someone who experiences the object
as an affective ‘blow’ to the senses.”


Lily Wittenburg published her poems for the first time in 2020 in her
artist’s book Den Kern der Täuschung
(“To miss the core of deception”).