l’étrangère presents the first solo exhibition of Berlin-based artist, Marie Jeschke, a new body of work encompassing site-specific installation and photography.
As suggested by the exhibition’s title, Can’t Remember Always Always, Jeschke’s practice begins with an interrogation of the relationship between archival processes, individual and collective memory. By sidestepping an institutional approach to the archive and image conservation, Jeschke returns to a highly personal understanding of collecting, object ontology, memory, and identity-formation.
A site-specific installation in the front gallery begins with the artist’s ongoing accumulation of collectible football stickers. Through a process of scanning, enlarging, developing as analogue photographic prints, and then fixing these images on aluminium, Jeschke elevates them from loose ephemera to the permanency of a sculptural object. The totem-esque forms on which these images are printed were appropriated by Jeschke during research on Hiddensee Island, Northern Germany, where its residents mark their houses with familial symbols (Hausmarken). These motifs exist in continuous flux, gradually evolving in parallel with generational movements. Jeschke has then fixed these contemporary relics upon floor to ceiling photographic prints: distorted and warped renditions of archival photographs taken in 1971 by the artist’s biologist grandfather at Kieshofer Moor near Greifswald. Through a rigorous process of research, collection, and assimilation, Jeschke creates a rhizomatic structure of layered memories and images. The installation, titled Kieshofer Moor, Always (2015), functions as a temporary imprint; a concrete human mark or tag against the temporal fluidity of a natural landscape.
Non-fixity and impermanence permeate two new works in the back gallery: a photographic series and a sculptural time-based installation. The former, Neti Neti (Neither This Nor That), comprises eight unique works that began life as part of the artist’s personal archive of family photos. In a response to her inability to remember these moments captured from her childhood, Jeschke puts these images through a further process of development. By immersing each photograph in a special liquid solution of domestic substances – food waste, chemical and cosmetic products – each photograph is activated and manipulated in the present. Destabilised from from their temporal index, the images appear warped, distorted and marked.
Returning to the sense of a collapsed presentness that is denoted by the exhibition’s title, Jeschke brings this real-time process of photographic development into the gallery. Four glass vitrines hold a new set of archival images featuring individuals from the artist’s past that she cannot remember, each immersed in their own idiosyncratic chemical solution. Pinned down by stones taken from Hiddensee Island, they exist as another fluid imprint; fixed in space, but evolving throughout the exhibition’s duration. This process is consistent with Jeschke’s distinctive approach to the photographic medium. Through sculptural and performative strategies, she destabilises images from their indexical anchor in order to allow a de-rooted and ever-expanding network to develop.