For her third solo show at London’s Nettie Horn, “Setting the Setting” (through December 1), Sinta Werner further melds her dual practice of collage and installation. Previously, the Berlin based artist’s in-situ works have used the gallery’s architectural features directly, with the artist painting on the walls and columns to give the appearance of a double exposure or using mirrors to reflect fictitious spaces within the room. However, the new installations, though they reference architecture, will not involve the gallery’s structure itself. “My work is always about transferring something three-dimensional into two-dimensions and then pushing that back into the real space,” Werner tells ARTINFO.
This tendency can be seen most readily in a series of collages called “Schattenfassaden” (Shadow Fronts), which build off of her practice of recreating socialist warehouse facades in cardboard. “This three-dimensional cardboard model is then photographed and printed, so to speak, transferred into the two-dimensional picture plane,” explains Werner. “In the next step I reuse the same pattern of folding and cutting on the print in order to push it back into the three-dimensional shape it had as a starting point.”
The level of detail in her process reaches near obsessive levels in order to stay true to the buildings’ formal characteristics: concrete and paper don’t ‘fold’ the same way. “The cardboard I used to make the model has the same size and thickness as the photographic paper, so it would behave in exactly the same way when being cut and folded as the print. You can see the actual materiality,” what appears as “slight curls or shadows in the print,” she says. Yet the result is quite abstract when ripped from its context in reality. Werner reduces vastly ideologically and historically charged edifices into geometric patterns and folds that completely belie their origin.
Born out of this collage practice is also the exhibition’s most prominent work, “Setting the Setting / Staging the Fake” (2012) sees honeycomb cardboard panels propped against a precariously placed column in the gallery and photographed. Those photographs are then pasted onto the cardboard at slightly different angles, creating a trompe l’oeil, doubling them to the inattentive viewer. Though born out of collages, Werner’s attention to material forced an alteration, “In the early stages I thought of it as an extension of the collages “Discrete Folding”. But while the folded sheet of paper is all about plainness or simplicity, the cut and folded cardboard weren’t. So I thought of using rectangular sheets that would just leaning against each other, a situation that is more likely to happen arbitrarily or that would more look like leftovers from building a display or a provisional architecture,” she says.
This unfinished aesthetic seems to have seeped quite thoroughly into the artist’s practice, popping up again in the other in-situ work “Mise en Scène de la scène” (2012). Along with a finished wall painting, Werner presents a photograph of it mid-installation, also leaving a protective covering of packing paper on the floor and string on the walls. The result is performative both to the extent that it creates tension within the viewer that they have entered into a show, which is not finished, and such that “two different points of views brought together.” Werner explains, “The strings are seen from the front and from the side, so that there is a perspectival distortion. It is as if two segments of the film in our brain that creates an understanding of space are extracted.”
Sinta Werner, “Setting the Setting” is on at Nettie Horn in London through December 1. Werner will also have an exhibition at Zurich’s Christinger de Mayo in March.