A stock-take
May, 2018

There will be no opening

Lagerbox, Karl-Marx-Straße 92-98
Rathaus Neukölln
12043, Berlin

On 2. Apr 2018, at 15:01, Sanna Helena Berger sanna@sannahelenaberger.com wrote:

Dear Paul and Lukas,
For my show with you in Berlin I would like to propose a series of works. Shown in a state of non-exhibtion?
(this is not a statement made to negate a form of exhibition but a proposed addition of an informal question).
By non-exhibition I refer to an anti-form of conservatism which equates exhibition with a result, a finishing, the resolution of a work.
I would like to place no emphasis on finished work but on process and the self-sanctioning of experimentation (not focusing on experimentation itself as process but rather the allowing of experimentation into ones process).

I focus on the room given to oneself when you remove or alter the need for a polished work - an exhibition as the result of a process - which can allow for an assemblage of thoughts (materialised or de-materialised) that never became (being) works for one reason or another. One reason can be the mentioned already, restraint of the exhibition format. The idea that an exhibition is a result shown of a process with underlying material hidden and thought processes that lead to the finality of the work remains un-shown (detached).This is of course a largely institutional critique and does not apply with the same standard to non-profit spaces, in theory, however we do still seem to adhere to these norms and standards within the realm of even the most endless possibilities.A restriction which often questioned with opinion and informalities, writings and musings but often fall on the hurdle of execution because a-formal works seem unfinished thus unpolished thus less.

Shown works I made in 2017 were housed under the in common question;
‘Maybe there is a substitute for exhibiting?’
And this series of works would, although, not born out of this question, align with the need to question what one can do with a 'show' and in turn what one can show in a show and what one allows oneself to show. (sex laxar i en laxask) The exploration of transparency and loosening of self-curatorial restrictions within my own work. For that reason this show would be an auto-biographical artefact - site-specific not to a physical place but to a psychological state - something which I have been nervous to allow into view within my practice. Perhaps there has been an inescapable underlying inhibition of an auto-didact who needs to align to a clear lineage in her oeuvre to secure the identity most acquire within academia, again something I rarely explore 'in public' and perhaps my focus on de-formalising critique of the pseudo-institutional is also grounded in the pleasure/pain of having not been aided by a institutional support-system. Finding ones own way is both a liberating and exhausting procedure. In addition - my innate perfectionism and very strict self-curatorial approach is a similar conflict where I am (being) but I also find it harder to develop / stimulate / advance / progress, choose your adjective, within these analytical methods of coherence.

In the last 6 months I have been challenging my own strict making and (with this show) I would like that to become clear. This is an ambitious project, show, body of work etc etc.. and I hope that you will agree that it is an interesting approach to showing.

The questioning of what work is that I make when I am not working could be instead formulate as;
'What work could I be making when I am not making work?'

What is at loss in such a tight-knit practice where one is sceptic of deviating from ones own curve, norms and standards. Where the heady intellectualised works always take president over the 'simply' material or de-situational works. These last six months has been very difficult for me, this of course borders the very personal but I will need to delve into this aspect of my I, the self, because without it there is something lacking in my coming to the point where this show comes to be. The sharing of which will not be part of the works in a literal sense.

I suffer from manic depression and borderline personality disorder and have done since a very young age. This becomes increasingly de-habilitating to my work when so much of it, usually, depends on the cognitive. And when thoughts are abstracted, the intellectual work becomes more or less impossible, at least extremely difficult. In the last six months I have been through a very intensive period of therapy and medication - finding medication can be very hard and going through the stages where you dose up and down makes thoughts very dull and damp.
In these times materials have been very therapeutic to me. Things to touch and mould and make.

I have laid more than 20 puzzles a' 2500 pieces each on average. I haven't done the math but the sum is a lot of pieces.
Searching for something fitting into another within a separate time-consortium pocket, where patterns form a sense of completion. Time spent doing this has not felt wasted because it is a labour that brought me the kind of satisfaction that only this methodical activity can bring. I fantasise sometimes of working in an office; folding paper, laying them in envelopes , closing them shut and stamping them, standing by a conveyor belt in a giant plant performing some kind of repetitive labour, a monotonous continuous movement, repetitive and clear.
I can crave this simplicity, this alignment of mental state and labour. The need to utilise my intellectual capacity in this de-habilitated situation makes me near panic-stricken and so the relief I get from this kind of material interaction is immense. All this to say that in the last few months I have been hard at work whilst not working at all.

I have gone through a routine where repeated 'failure' has been part of my progress. Whereas the noun is defined as the 'lack of success' I have had to re-define my non-successes, which can be of immense value, shared and shown as the auto-biographical process.

This shown (show) is then a series of artefacts, scenes, notes, stills from and of works I make but do not show. The question then posed at the beginning - wether (because of the abandoned, undeveloped or refined state of the work) these are parts of a non-exhibiton; simply a storage of attempts, a stock-take, or wether the definition of finished can be de-finished.

Matter that I have developed through sheer therapeutic approach during these last few months is of a strong material emphasis. Do you know that if you mix cornstarch and body lotion you get a kind of clay? It is soft and smooth and when it is the right consistency you want noting else than to play with it for ages in your hands. A clean soapy smell comes of it, it is chalky bright white and tactile; soft but not sticky in texture.

I also suggest to show works that have been notes in the margin of my practice for a long time but remaining un-tried, un-developed. Those outlined ideas found in folders for grant-proposals you never submitted, notes on your phone from 2014 which says 'sack for 2' or a scene from the realism science fiction script that you have written in your head but never put down on paper for which you have even done the casting (in London two years ago).

As I am sure Is clear, this is quite an ambitious series of works - all aligned by the common denominator that they were never 'works'. Never becoming if my tight framework would not loosen. An attempt at development which is both terrifying and wildly exhilarating at the same time.

I need to experiment more to complete the stock-take of scenarios / scenes / installations / choreographies / texts / sounds and so forth that I would like to show. But I have allowed this show to become in thought also because of your space. I want to store it with you. The fact that it would be an entirely interchangeable, exchange of a show, where one day you could see a body moving around the space and then next a scene staged and the next hear a monologue playing etc makes it even more exciting to me because it is a temporary thing.
Which an experimentation often is, strong and solid at the time of conception but over time becoming questioned and compared and aligned to other/s, making it seem insufficient and partial. It makes the experience of the work as a body very different from that of the experience of a single work within the body. If taken out of context a viewer can themselves concoct a context/reasoning and since it is a show by appointment only I am sure that there will be whole, intensely laboured and painstakingly time consuming works that will not be experience by anyone (except us) but will be active, in storage for this time.

It means that I will be there every day at some point during the two weeks since if not every day, then every other day, an installation of a new work will be made. The installation of which should be made during hours that can be made through appointment ("opening hours") and not hidden.

Once each instalment is removed I would like to discard it on the streets of Berlin. Left in different locations - along with another heap of discarded household items on the street or in a supermarket or outside another gallery, the location will depend on the work and here the concept traverses from non-works shown in storage to another question which can be discussed or disregarded. The value of the work when discarded and free - having been exhibited in a 'gallery' sphere albeit in a storage facility - does it then act only as discarded material or free art? We can post the locations of them online and anyone can - if they want - take it and if not it can be left until removed. I think that the process is then complete. The knowledge that this body of work could be collected, even stored and saved and enter into an already existing collection or gathered on the off-chance that it will gain financial value at some point in time, parallel to the possibility that it is picked up by trash handlers, as trash and gone forever is equally appealing to me because either way the work is made and allowed to be or to have been independent of the finality or result or as an existing material proof within my oeuvre.

I will be more than happy to hear all and any thoughts on mine so far, more thoughts to come of course, that you have on my ideas and look forward to hearing from you!

All my best,
Sanna Helena

Chair facing wall
Self portrait (there is no title)
Self portrait (burgundy)

Hamburg Square sculpture 1,2,3 Concert Contemporar- y situations Back to Index