Strange Wallpaper, Unfortunate Houseplants

Strange Wallpaper, Unfortunate Houseplants Installations by Kristin Wenzel Marcel Raabe (English)

In contrast to the insidious changing trends in fashion and design, which are only in retrospective regarded as stylistic eras, aesthetic breaks are radically synchronized to instances of abrupt social change. These circumstances take place along the boundaries of design because production conditions and materials change, availability and consumer needs shift, and politics transform. The collective character repertoire laid out in public works of art, television series, hit music, fonts and product designs, food packaging and advertisements, is much more than just a source of nostalgia. It becomes a code of a dispersed society.

The artist Kristin Wenzel, born in Gotha in 1983, arranges her installations and reliefs in the stylistic motive of the so-called 'third generation of Eastern Germany.' She was born in the GDR and grew up in the FRG with images emblematic of the mood and time. Take the palm tree photo wallpaper, at the time it was a projection of an inaccessible geographical distance, but now it stands for the temporal distance of childhood.

Between home and strangers, wanderlust and diffuse yearnings, Kristin Wenzel moves through an emotional world of romanticism where today artificial ruins are made up of concrete forms from crumbling backyard cultivations. "I regularly scourge through my archive of childhood photos when I am confronted by a certain memory. I've noticed that on playgrounds, on sports grounds and in summer camp on the Baltic Sea - these walls with the cast concrete blocks are everywhere. "

The constructivist artists Karl-Heinz Adler and Friedrich Kracht inspire the motif, often recurring in Kristin Wenzel’s installations. Since the 1960s, their series of concrete prefabricated forms can be found nation wide in city furnishings and façade design.

"The architecture of the former 'Eastern bloc states' was the expression of utopia, but today we see it as a failure. Nevertheless, when you witness the buildings or parts of the city, you sense both, the disappointment but also the feeling of 'we dreamt something.' The cast-concrete walls stand to represent this duplicity as a sign."

These cast concrete blocks undermine the functionality of a wall because you can see through it.

The utopian aspiration of delimitation and permeability has not been resolved by society in its seclusiveness. The concrete raster is thus read as a sign of a defeated history. Precisely because they are disappearing, they are then also preserved.

The less robust post-production by Kristin Wenzel of cardboard or wooden fiber sheets reflects the paradoxes of the monuments and architectural backgrounds of past societies. Art created for an eternity of public space display has the property of remarkable short-livedness.

"I am developing my own lexicon of images," says Kristin Wenzel.

Starting with a collection of old postcards, her personal childhood and family photos as well as travel photography, she creates a space to experience memories from the variety of patterns, objects, wall-models and photographic scenes. The accumulated objects do not carry an air of 'authenticity,' but rather evoke private scenarios or archives. Symbolizing a shared history through all these reproduction technologies, photo albums, holiday postcards, slide shows, display a common lineage through their presentation of collective imagery.

Marcel Raabe lives and works as a journalist and author in Leipzig.