Katharina Karrenberg

Article excerpt

Although Katharina Karrenberg's artistic practice is undoubtedly based upon her highly politicized consciousness, she disagrees with the division between political and nonpolitical art. For her, art is always conditioned by the politics of seeing and the politics of representation. In most of her earlier pieces, Karrenberg directly addressed societal tensions. By producing images--installations and "picture-objects"--she makes visible the invisible conflicts and tensions that constitute everyday experience. But she proffers neither their reconciliation nor their sublation in her work. In the wall installation Volker ohne Raume (Peoples without rooms/space, 1991)--part of the group show "Heimat" (Homeland) in 1991--Karrenberg dealt with the German past and the East German everyday present. The installation Feeding the Art System I, 1992, focused on the world-wide problem of starvation and the German multicultural present. In the work Feeding the Art System II, 1992, installed in Eastern Berlin, she addressed the art system, the acute tensions of the East- and West-Germany dialogue, and the Western "soft colonization" of the East with art, hers included.

If in the two most recent installations her approach seemed more oblique, it is because she bypassed both pictorial and iconic representation. None of the two works contained images; they were made up of texts. She refused here to offer materialized images as she did in her "picture-objects." In Standbein rechts Spielarm links (Standing leg right playing arm left, 1992), Karrenberg used a text to speak about art, culture, and politics. This installation was, in fact, about another unrealized installation that initially dealt with the image of femininity as it is constructed by art history, literature, philosophy, and the mass media. Now, Karrenberg intends to examine the ideology of representing the female body and femininity as it appeared in the sculptural work, The Judgement of Paris, 1941, by a Nazi sculptor, Josef Thorak. …