of grey city walls

of grey city walls on Kristin Wenzel’s Oh, Paradís Markus Wiegandt (English)

Kristin Wenzel’s expansive installation is a temporary autonomous zone. It inserts itself with apparent ease into the urban architecture and occupies public space from its position, so to speak. External appearances are enough to experience this field of tension. Grey tones and patterned stone wall architecture reminiscent of childhood dominate the scene.
In concert with the cold neon light emanating from the display window, a space of memory is opened which recalls to the viewer’s mind a provocative hymn to urbanism in the style of S.Y.P.H.’s Zurück zum Beton. This homogenous image is unsettled by colourful interventions in the form of a palm shaped object leaned against the building and a lightbox radiating the title of the work out into the environment. Alongside a space of memory, these elements also integrate sites of longing into the work. The lightbox in particular functions as a sort of visual siren.
It leaves us almost powerless to resist – like moths drawn to the light – moving towards that site of desire conjured by the luxuriant interjection. But as we approach it, at the very latest, we realise that the promise of such non-places (shall we call them utopias) is always endangered when the architecture of the space bars our view of the phantasmagoria.
A change in perspective which leads the viewer further away despite their attempt to draw closer and offers a view onto the interior instead. As we look inside, we see a lazy dog. An image of the artist as a contented stray. I wanna be your dog. The sculpture reconciles melancholic memories with a longing for a future free of constraint. Despite the well elaborated form, the intentionally exhibited flash left over from casting suggests a production unfinished. The future is unwritten, and yet its contours become concrete in our fantasy.
Kristin Wenzel’s work plays with past, present and future while carrying something time-transcendent within it. The familiar images invoked as spaces of memory are grey like the images of her childhood. The references in play – palms, Catalan orthography, concrete and neon light – reciprocally illuminate the spaces of childhood and contemporary centres of artistic life. The beautiful appearance of the building and its window – according to your perspective – awakes a yearning which points towards the future. As planned from the outset, it is a longing which colours the space itself. Then, the viewer stands before the installation, looks in the window and their gaze falls on the plaster: “Sous les pavés, la plage.”

Markus Wiegandt
is an Academic Assistant for Modern German Literature at the Institute for German Studies at the University of Leipzig.