The works of Jeanno Gaussi deal with questions of cultural identity and the storage of memory-scraps. Gaussi's multicultural background – born in Kabul in 1973, raised in Kabul, New Delhi and Berlin – has a major impact on her artistic work. Photographs and installations originating mainly from travels of the artist to Kabul between 2007 and the present day will be on display.
The Work “Dreams on Wheels” was only recently produced in 2013. On her expedition to the Afghan capital Jeanno Gaussi met a man who had learned a dying craft while living in exile: “Truckpainters” paint vehicles, in particular large-sized ones, with elaborate depictions of personal fantasies of the respective owners. Storybooks on display are driving through dusty streets revealing more about their passengers than any brief conversation. Gaussi intuitively established a link to the exhibited individualism of the Western youth culture and asked the painter to take a skateboard, a vehicle foreign to him. The intense dialogue between the artists about the worlds within and goals in life ultimately lead to seven works of art in glorious colors.
“War Rug Project” is a continuous discourse of Gaussi with regards to the penetration by structures of war and power on Afghan society. This is depicted by the craft of the “War Rugs“ which emerged as an echo to the ancient tradition of carpet weaving 35 years ago – the amount of time Afghanistan has gone without peace. Gaussi captures depictions of tanks woven into cloth as well as personal memory pictures and created from this an individual design vocabulary. She alienated the figures digitally, abstracted them into geometrical contours and has been using them as character sets for different works ever since. Koal Gallery is showing garments installed on a wardrobe: long-sleeved chapans, a symbol of wealth and the social situation, and traditional peraans, the robe of the down-to-earth man. On first sight they radiate sacred authority and reliability, but, on second sight also reveal, because of Gaussi's editing, the modernized and institutionalized imagery of war that is ubiquitous by now in Afghanistan.
The term “border crosser” does not suit Jeanno Gaussi – she grew up without borders, unfamiliar with this concept. Instead she is an intersection of different environments in which cultural contexts add up and react with one another. In her native Afghanistan Gaussi looks for traces that represent society today, beyond the known universally suffocating images of terror and death. She finds new icons that offer support in a life without any safety that has turned into an essential part of self-concept of an entire generation that grew up during the war. She also finds sparkling fragments of a rich cultural heritage that reminds her of her childhood. Gaussi, with the help of her perceptive senses, interrelates a new relationship to her heritage and vividly creates what she is impressed with - free of any limiting categories. She naturally acts as the medium that in parts documentary, in parts interpretative, allows a view on a world some thought had been lost.
Jeanno Gaussi (* 1973 in Kabul, Afghanistan) lives and works in Berlin. Her works have been featured in numerous international exhibitions such as the dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and the Mediterranean Biennale in Sakhnin, Israel in 2013. Beginning of 2014, photographs and videos by Gaussi have been shown at the 18th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil in Sao Paulo.
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