Sarah Crowner and Paulina Olowska: Daadgalerie
Muller, Dominikus, Artforum International
Paulina Olowska has made it her business to address hidden historical currents within modernism, pop culture, and arts and crafts--whether responding to Polish metalworking of the 1960s, exhibiting an archive documenting the punk and New Wave scenes in Poland with almost no commentary, or devoting herself exclusively to the work of painter Zofia Stryjenska (1891-1974) in her contribution to the Fifth Berlin Biennial. For her show at the Berlin gallery of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), as so often before, she invited a second artist to show with her, working with New York-based Sarah Crowner to revisit a marginal medium in the contemporary art world: ceramics.
The common denominator in the work of the two artists, exhibited jointly under the title "Ceramics and Other Things," seems to be the use of flat, two-dimensional tiles. Where Olowska generally uses found tiles, which she then paints or spray-paints with abstract and figurative designs, Crowner fires her pieces herself, using white or brown clay, and leaves them completely unadorned. And whereas Olowska, embracing the ugliness of industry-standard bathroom tiles, concentrates on individual surface and painterly design, Crowner makes use of a significantly more graphic, geometric approach by assembling the tiles into a wide range of shapes--semicircles, rings, triangles, irregular trapezoids, and the like.
Both artists' works were presented on six low platforms in the middle of the gallery, illuminated from either end by two freestanding industrial spotlights mounted on tripods, which evoked a craft show or fashion runway. The artists further emphasized the space's showroom character by opening an ordinarily curtained section of its window facade, revealing the exhibition space to the street. …