Recent Activity, Birmingham | 2 August - 7 September 2019
Nebelmeer is a show consisting of scrap, debris, hoarded things, and unused components from the artist’s studio presented on a tableau and activated by the gallery director.
This messy arrangement of matter questions the agency of an artist’s studio detritus. Past present and future work is presented as one sprawling mass in stasis, awaiting activation. Vector drawings that were never used cut in walnut, strapping from studio moves, components from past shows, Wedgwood purchased form a charity shop in Birmingham, failed 3D prints, experiments for future work – all these individual elements perform as a collection of synecdoches – acting as parts of some sort of atemporal whole.
The show takes its title from the German word Nebelmeer meaning Sea of Fog. This in turn is a reference to Caspar David Friedrich’s Romantic masterpiece Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer).
Rather than pay homage to this bastion of 19th century German Idealism, the artist instead bastardises the Romantic notion of the sublime, reducing it in scale and grandiosity to an insta-friendly spectacle. An artwork that was once said to exemplify Kantian self-reflection is now reduced to a meme, invariably destined to be shared as a ten second clip.