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C A R O L A   D E R T N I G

Roaming Circle

May 8 – June 15, 2024

Opening Hours

Tue – Sat, 11am – 6pm

Getreidemarkt 14

1010 Wien

We are delighted to present the solo exhibition Roaming Circle by Austrian artist Carola Dertnig at our gallery in Vienna. On display are new paintings, sculptures and installations which tie in with Dertnig's current retrospective at the OK exhibition hall in Linz and explore the interweaving of body, stage, language and space.

Spatial, rhythmic circular movements, the complex dynamics of parallel and counter-rotating turns, a play with forces between pulling and pushing—the new sculptures and paintings that Carola Dertnig is presenting in her exhibition Roaming Circle at Galerie Crone Vienna defy hasty interpretation. The works are an expression of the artist's ongoing reflection on performance and the connection between movement and aesthetics in the visual arts.

The starting point for these works is Dertnig’s many years of involvement with the Feldenkrais method. The method aims to correct movement patterns that have become ingrained in the body and are harmful by breaking down motion sequences into small units. Based on verbal instructions, new connections and links are developed in a slow process of repeatedly feeling individual postures. Dertnig is less interested in the therapeutic purpose than in the moment of becoming aware of successions of movement connected to the potential of the changeability of postures—she always links this from a feminist perspective with the question of how social structures can be broken up and alternative possibilities for action established.

Drawing on recordings from a Feldenkrais archive inherited from her mother, Dertnig translates the complexity of experiences of movement and time into new visual forms. 

Her form-finding does not develop from observation, but from sensing the body from within. The works are direct testimonies to movement sequences and materializations of her thinking with the body.

In the sculptures, she transfers the emotion, strength, and tension to the bent metal rods, creating drawings in space that seem to develop independent personalities and, with their expansive curves, appear as if they are dancing on a stage.

For the production process of the pictures, however, it is essential that they are created on the floor using the whole body. Both in the larger drawings with screen-printed patterns and in the small, brightly colored formats, Dertnig understands the picture surface as a stage. She thus ties in with the art and performance-historical topos of the canvas as a playing surface. This theme was just as foundational for Jackson Pollock’s poses in his allover painting, often described as dance, as it was for Trisha Brown’s piece It’s a Draw, in which she uses drawing chalk on her hands and feet to leave traces of her performance on paper.

In connection with the idea of the picture plane as a stage, it is also worth mentioning that the artist compares her intuitive use of color to the process of selecting clothes for her performances. The choice of color thus also embodies an emotional interplay of struggle and harmony, expressiveness and retreat, dominance and balance.

The works can be read not only as autonomous arrangements, but also as a form of notation.

The relationship between the movements and their representation is subject to a peculiar ambivalence: On the one hand, the recordings follow the event and, as an immediate trace of it, possess a virtuosity, uniqueness, and singularity; on the other hand, they open up a space for the renewed realization of the same movement. They formulate an alphabet of lines and figures that can serve as a reference for repeatable embodiments.

The group of sculptures are thus also reenactments of older works, executed here on a smaller scale. Despite this scaling of the figures, the information of the complex interaction of body, material, and space is fully laid out.

The superimpositions in the pictures, in particular the circling strokes that condense into swirls, also bear witness to the repetition of the repetition of the repetition, which, through constant rehearsal, enables a redefinition of movement sequences and thus an alternative reality.

Carola Dertnig was born in Innsbruck in 1963 and lives in Vienna, where she is a head of the Performative Arts department at the Academy of Fine Arts. She was a long-time board member of the Vienna Secession and can look back on numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Landesgalerie Niederösterreich, Krems, the P.S. 1, New York, the Artists Space, New York, the MoMA, New York, the mumok, Vienna, the GfZK, Leipzig and the Secession, Vienna.

Text: Annette Suedbeck

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