Sedimentations: Brushing History Against the Grain
Alejandro Cesarco, Endri Dani, Katalin Ladik, Helen Mirra

This exhibition, curated by Noit Banai, focuses on contemporary artistic practices that give form, voice, and shape to diverse histories by exploring those material, discursive, and symbolic sedimentations in and through which fragments of the past appear in the present. Alejandro Cesarco, Endri Dani, Katalin Ladik, and Helen Mirra are chroniclers and creators of moments that make up our individual and collective lives.

Exhibition Sedimentations: Brushing History Against the Grain
Artists Alejandro Cesarco, Endri Dani, Katalin Ladik, Helen Mirra
Venue Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
All images Courtesy Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna. Photographer: kunst.dokumentation.com / Manuel Carreon Lopez

In different media and singular techniques, they occupy the intimate textures, deposits, and particles of historical sedimentation and reflect on the ways that certain episodes consolidate into dominant narratives while others may remain dormant but are never lost. These artists, in the spirit of Walter Benjamin, “brush history against the grain” and move away from a linear, cumulative, and immutable approach to interlaced archaeologies with yet-unarticulated possibilities. With poetic elasticity, they “explode the continuum of history” and open the way to new personal and political futures.

In the photographic series, 182, 2015, Endri Dani poses in the entranceways to apartment blocks built during the post-war communist dictatorship in Albania. His physical measurements, perfectly aligned with the ideal state-stipulated dimensions, embody the ideological strictures of collective living that still haunt contemporary Albanian society. In these now decrepit typologies of totalitarianism, gestures of personalization and individuation agitate against forced uniformity.

Alejandro Cesarco’s film, Musings, 2013, is a meditation on the aesthetic currencies through which sensations and meanings are created in both our waking states and dream-lives. Our existence is never outside a web of narrations, significations, and interpretations generated by constantly proliferating, entangled sources, i.e., art, music, art history, popular culture, and literature. How do we tell our own story? Where does our own subjectivity begin and end?

In visual poetry, sound, and performance, Katalin Ladik triggers a creative dialogue between graphic notation, lived event, and documentation. Her collages, 1974–1978, composed of clippings from women’s magazines, letters, sewing pattern paper, and music paper are the basis for sound poetry while photographic works, 1973–1985, detail performances that challenged gender norms and excavated archaic fragments of collective experience from a folkloristic past.

Handwoven by the artist from the undyed wool of two black sheep, Helen Mirra’s Waulked Triangles and Folded Waulked Triangles, 2013–2015, situate the spectator in relation to modes of working and being that are increasingly lost to post-industrialization. Using a process that involves walking the length of a traditional loom, Mirra counters both the heroic standardization of minimalist objects and velocity and disembodiment of global capitalism.

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