In Spiritual Bypass Hella Gerlach’s forth exhibition at Acappella, the artist presents a new body of sculptural works. Entitled Hangover #1- #18, they offer a flexible textile lexicon of shapes and conditions. For the show, Gerlach arranged a selection of hangovers in five clusters, so that several hangovers hang with each other in a combined constellation, each of which has a different name. The works thus consist of various stuffed, tubular, and droopy shapes that interweave with one another and dangle from the ceiling. These colorful, intermingling bodies seem to convey certain physical as well as psychological states: weighty, burdened, knotted, contorted, strung out- associations triggered both by their forms but also their material qualities like stiffness, softness, roughness, or smoothness. They are connected to motors so that the of anthropomorphic forms rotate around an axis. Filled with wool, ash, St. John’s wort, black nightshade and other substances, they are lightly scented and invite the viewer to lean in to smell them, just as their physical qualities appeal to a tactile touch – although a physical grab, or intrusion, would disrupt their autonomous rotation. The tactile and olfactory qualities of the works intersect with the objects’ corporeal qualities; they are like bodies turned inside out. In feeling inside of them, they seem to present a mirror for our own interiors, not construed as a psychology “thought” inside the head, but rather an unconscious that manifests itself in the body. Where is an emotion? What does it feel like? Can you describe it? Does it have a color, or a texture? Is it tight, loose, heavy, floaty? Entering into that “inside” might look like these objects, which rotate as if spinning around a central spine.
They are body doubles, mirrors, a display literally hanging out next to and over us: What I am hearing is that you are feeling “this way”. They offer a vocabulary for things that can be felt but not easily said. Therapeutic objects enable one to exit the space of the mind and explore feelings in a physical way; they are not chemical antidepressants, but lozenges, circles, tubes, knots, roots, wings, and hooks whose tangible presence asks us to insert ourselves into and inhabit them in space like non-virtual dongles. Dropping from the ceiling and twirling around slowly, Gerlach’s hanging accretions never stop moving, like loops in the mind when the body desires stasis and grounding. Her forms invite projection, but resist resolution. They are process. “Let’s just let that settle for a moment – do you have everything you need?”
The artist would like to thank Andreas Kraus, Christa Schramm, Gloria Hao, Johannes Schumacher, Dr. Karin Bandelin, Renate Müller, Dr. Sasha Rossman, stations & NEUSTART Kultur for their support.
Vico Santa Maria a Cappella Vecchia, 8, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy