“In Absheit” is based on more recent works by Alicja Kwade, which can be read in a broader sense as self-portraits. The artist explores the question of how people and their physical presence in space can be described on the basis of different methodological considerations.
The work “Self-Portrait” shows 24 glass ampoules that contain in their pure form the chemical elements that make up the human body. A space-consuming installation is based on the artist's genome, which has been completely read out, printed out on 314,000 pages of paper. A group of several bronze steles also addresses the human genome in the digital age. The artist has stacked numerous smartphones offset on top of each other to form a double helix.
The central work relates to the physical location of people in time and space: A black steel ring is located in the center of the hall and extends up to the ceiling. 24 loudspeakers are mounted on it, through which the artist's heartbeat is transmitted into the exhibition space.
The exhibition was conceived in 2019 and was originally supposed to be shown in spring 2020. Due to the corona pandemic, the opening was postponed to autumn 2021.
In the publication accompanying the exhibition, Kwade shows historical and current images of some of the systems to which her works refer directly and indirectly. The images range from anatomical drawings and historical maps to electron microscopic images of the structure of atoms. Like Kwade's works, the images are aesthetic visualizations of abstract scientific and philosophical theories. The selected representations are therefore a collection of materials and documentation of the artist's research process. They are at the same time a subtext that connects with the works to form narrative structures.
With Kwade's site-specific installation in the first large exhibition hall, the Berlinische Galerie is continuing the successful format of in-situ projects by contemporary artists working in Berlin. Kwade studied at the Berlin University of the Arts from 1999 to 2005 and is now one of the most sought-after artists internationally. Most recently she has exhibited in New York, Tours, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Zurich, Barcelona, Shanghai, Reykjavik, Venice and London, among others.