KÖNIG GALERIE presents an exhibition of new photographs by Annette Kelm at the CHAPEL of ST. AGNES.
Because of their scent, their beauty, their healing power, and even as food, plants have always had a firm place in humanity's symbolic world. Annette Kelm's four new large-scale photographs are also charged with this cultural-historical significance. However, the Berlin artist seems neither to enforce nor to negate the symbolic power of the plant world in her art. Instead, her approach to flora is characterized by care, an interest in aesthetics, and staging as well as a sober view on the plant. Vegetation is one of the recurring motifs in Kelm's work. In combination with technical elements such as mechanical springs, the connection between art and technology is thematized in a subtle way. This nexus is particularly potent in photography, which is driven by technical innovation.
In her Kreuzberg studio, Kelm builds arrangements that look like small temporary landscapes. The artist combines withered palm leaves with a delphinium flower and a metal spring, the spherical, lilac-colored flowers of the giant leek (Allium giganteum) make an appearance as well as a ruffled spider plant or the so-called cockscomb (Celosia cristata). Kelm photographs the plants in front of colored photo cardboard in a way that the "builtness" of her scenes remains traceable. This is how she achieves "open pictures." The artist herself describes their creation as the result of various theoretical readings, reflections, impressions, and experiences: "I try to express my thoughts with pictures. It is important to me to keep my work open, thus, to have many references at the same time. My pictures should not illustrate anything but stand for themselves."
In this sense, the metal springs used by Kelm also open quite different lines of thought. These could, for example, lead to the artist's biography, who as a teenager in the early nineties often went to the Stuttgart Werkstatthaus right after school to work artistically and weld sculptures in the public metal workshop. The springs could also refer to the immediate surroundings, as many of the springs Kelm uses come from a closed metal factory, where the artist's studio is located today. In Berlin's cultural history, metal springs also have a pop-cultural connotation, as they were among the preferred sound bodies of the influential band Einstürzende Neubauten and their experimental percussionist N.U. Unruh early on.
But Kelm's images also bring to mind the English artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman (1942–1994), who once noted in his text, published posthumously in 1995, about his famous garden on the southern English coast in the shadow of a nuclear power station, how the relationship between the worlds of things and plants changed depending on the season: "The garden is full of metal: rusty metal corkscrew clumps, anchors from the beach, twisted metal, an old table-top with a hole for the umbrella, an old window, chains which form circles round the plants. All this disappears in the burgeoning spring."
Annette Kelm (b. 1975, Stuttgart) lives and works in Berlin. She is one of the most important representatives of contemporary photography in Germany.
The Kunsthalle zu Kiel will dedicate an exhibition to Kelm's work in spring 2022. Previous solo exhibitions of the artist's work have been presented at international institutions, including the Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main (2020); Museum Frieder Burda - Salon Berlin (2020); the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin (2019); the Fosun Foundation, Shanghai, the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, Aachen, and the Kunsthalle Wien (2018); Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2016); VOX. Centre of Contemporary Image, Montréal (2016); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld (2015); Kölnischer Kunstverein (2014); Bonner Kunstverein (2011); KW – Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2009); Kunsthalle Zürich (2009); and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2008).
In addition to her participation in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), Kelm's work has been part of numerous institutional group exhibitions, at MoMA, New York (2013); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City (2015); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016); Dallas Museum of Art (2018); Museum für Moderne Kunst Wien (2019), MACRO Museum, Rome (2020); Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (2021); and Kunsthalle Hamburg and Kunstmuseum Solothurn (2022).
Annette Kelm was awarded the Camera Austria Prize in 2015 and is represented in renowned collections, including those of Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Text: Kito Nedo (original text in German)
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