Kristin Wenzel - Re-collection

On creating a site-sensitive archive<>collection

Written by Cristina Vasilescu
A text on Kristin Wenzel’s work Re-collection

One hundred sixty four pieces of old architectural stucco ornaments, some dating over hundred years old, found mostly in Bucharest as well as other cities in Romania, have been inhabiting the flat of Kristin Wenzel for almost two years now. Consider a small gesso lion head pigmented with a dark reddish colour recovered from a building in Bucharest. Or a fragment of a falling-down frieze of intertwined wine-leaves found in the back of the Athenaeum Palace. Or an entire piece from a decorative knee brace found in the Armenească Quarter.

Disparate in shape, architectural style and time, these fragments of building ornaments coagulate a model of artistic practice as an idiosyncratic archival process. Drawn to her interest in architecture as a cultural symbol, as well as a space for encounter, Wenzel’s investigation of the ruined stucco decoration elements started with curious strolls in the city of Bucharest. Embodying the Situationist practice of “psychogeography”, a wander through a (public) space driven by contingency and desire rather than by reason and rule, Kristin’s forensic gaze identifies and, consequently, gleans the ruined pieces that are available at her hand and mind. Her engagement with peculiar public spaces and “non-places1” is not a new focus in her artistic practice and this current archival project is a continuation of a long series of projects that tackle transformation processes in relation to architecture. Growing up in the eastern part of Germany, Kristin paid close attention to the socialist architecture that slowly started to disappear after the ‘90s. Her patterns of perception have been developing around things that are left behind, forgotten or about to disappear. “Even as modernity erases traces of history, it also produces “points of suspension” that expose its uneven development or, rather, its uneven devolution into so many ruins2”. For Kristin these spots are the realities of the public space, mainly special and overlooked architectures such as: vitrines, kiosks, street lamps, fountains, façade ornaments and  advertising columns, an unusual blend of the uncanny and the everyday.