Drawing from the everyday, German sculptor Inge Mahn consciously alienates the commonplace, sensibly manipulating motifs to unlock a range of incongruous possibilities. Working predominantly with white plaster, the artist estranges objects through raw modelling, re-contextualisation, subtle subtractions and additions. In Mahn’s practice, discrete sculptural elements and installations are meant to be activated by independent structures.
Purposely ignoring the notion of the self-standing work of art, Mahn creates works that interact with broader architectural, historical and socio-political contexts, often formulating responses to specifc environments. Foregoing the ready-made principle and the traditional concept of architectural and monumental sculpture, the works testify to the artist’s democratic intentions — often time-based or kinetic, they trigger one’s memories to comment on a range of issues such as authority, power and individuality.
The installation Fallende Kreuze (Falling Crosses), initially created in 1991, on view in the gallery’s main space consists of an arrangement of white crosses foating weightlessly in the room. Some lean on the ground and seem to have tumbled while others almost reach the ceiling, in a bold balancing act over the abyss. Their instability is unsettling, yet a more playful impression emanates from the confusion of forms. The shape of the cross, a highly connoted symbol in sacral culture, immediately brings a broad imagery to mind. But it is rather the human scale of the crosses that Mahn sets into focus. Like bodies, the crosses spread their arms and dash
through the gallery, liberating a sense of dynamic and gravitational autonomy.
Newly constructed for each exhibition space and thus emphasising Mahn’s site specific approach, demands a direct interaction with the visitor. Mahn follows an open practice dominates its surrounding and that relies on dialogues with specific environments as well as the viewer — momentarily activating her works through a spatial encounter.