A church window, a couple sleeping blissfully in their cozy home, the awning of a pavilion from the last garden party. Here, the world is still in order. Jasmin Werner (*1987, lives and works in Frankfurt/Main), in her first exhibition at Gillmeier Rech, leads the visitors through an obstacle course; one that, among other things, presents an early modern depiction of Sarah and Tobias, the Old Testament couple who represent an idealized model of marital virtue. The marriage between a man and a woman as the nucleus of society, the Christian archetype as “Home Sweet Home” fantasy, replete with dog.
And anyway, at that time, as the world still was in order, we still made everything ourselves – just as Jasmin Werner does her imitation stairways, made inaccessible through dark-green dust sheeting, precisely erected with screws and metal poles. Because today’s ideals aren’t so down-to-earth; instead, the prevailing imperative is now one of an unremitting drive to the top. One step at a time: a fragile 5-step program of self-optimization, one that perhaps leads us into nothingness (or to nothing).
And so one may, upon contemplation of the steps, half-obscured as they are from the gaze, be reminded of the lessons of Scalalogie, which investigated the effects of stairs on humans. Or of the way in which the architectural elements of a stairway embody the representative ambitions of the building’s developer, giving them both material and aesthetic form. How the rise or descent of a staircase can become a ceremonial performance that regulates the communication between “us” and “them up there.” How, in this architectural motif, the sacred – the temple entrance, the pilgrimage church on the mountain – mingles with the everyday.
Today, it is temples of another kind (museum buildings, Apple stores) whose steps provide a glassy and ethereal path to higher pleasures. The models for Werner’s “Ambivalent Ladders” regulate the entrance to libraries, to places of worship, to prestige buildings of modern museums; those institutions whose authority, for a long time, rightly came under fire, but which now does in fact at times appear a comfort. Jasmin Werner’s “Status Faux” is an exhibition as pastiche-collage, and as such, it also opens the way for ambivalence, for a subtle and ambiguous play with codes; one which eyes the victory podium with both desire and mistrust.
The seizure of power and the attention economy lie closer together today than ever before. Ideas of high and low, and their codes and methods of communication, are turning themselves on their head. And here, the art world itself stands on shaky foundations.
translated by Ben Caton