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Anna K.E. at Galerie Barbara Thumm / Berlin

Anna K.E.

Teen Factory (Berlin – New York)

11 September – 31 October 2015

Berlin

Installation view: Anna K.E. "Teen Factory", Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin / Photo: Jens Ziehe

Installation view: Anna K.E. "Teen Factory", Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin / Photo: Jens Ziehe


Installation view: Anna K.E. "Teen Factory", Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin / Photo: Jens Ziehe

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (2), 2013
Varnish wood, aluminium, glitter, fimo plasticine, metal lock
82 x 138 x 80 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse


Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (2), 2013
Varnish wood, aluminium, glitter, fimo plasticine, metal lock
82 x 138 x 80 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse


Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (2), 2013
Varnish wood, aluminium, glitter, fimo plasticine, metal lock
82 x 138 x 80 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse


Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (3), 2014
Varnish wood, climbing stones, found ceramic object, non-functional LED lamps, spray paint
240 x 58 x 158 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (3), 2014
Varnish wood, climbing stones, found ceramic object, non-functional LED lamps, spray paint
240 x 58 x 158 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (3), 2014
Varnish wood, climbing stones, found ceramic object, non-functional LED lamps, spray paint
240 x 58 x 158 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (9), 2015
Varnish MDF, aluminium tape, varnished cubber paper, magnet drawing (2014), metal sheet, oil stick
83 x 50,5 x 43 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (9), 2015
Varnish MDF, aluminium tape, varnished cubber paper, magnet drawing (2014), metal sheet, oil stick
83 x 50,5 x 43 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (9), 2015
Varnish MDF, aluminium tape, varnished cubber paper, magnet drawing (2014), metal sheet, oil stick
83 x 50,5 x 43 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (9), 2015
Varnish MDF, aluminium tape, varnished cubber paper, magnet drawing (2014), metal sheet, oil stick
83 x 50,5 x 43 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anna K.E.
Teen Factory (10), 2015
Varnished MDF
2,4 x 109,5 x 206 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Joerg Lohse
Anna K.E.
Smart Games within Non-moving Space No.05, 2012
Colored pencil, glitter, spray, varnish, acrylic on paper
222 x 300 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Photo: Nici Wegener


...what dooms must do, standing still and walking in New York 
-Frank O’Hara, “Ode on Causality”, 1958 


Barbara Thumm Gallery and Simone Subal Gallery are pleased to present Teen Factory, a solo exhibition by Anna K.E. Presented simultaneously in New York and Berlin, K.E.’s two-part exhibition is an ode to life in these two places, to the state in which one continually arrives. 
K.E. is heavily influenced by modernist architecture, a motif that frequently appears in her work. In the intimacy of a lap-bound sketchbook or scaled to her wide-open studio, in either case, K.E. embraces the architectural model as a simulation for thought - utopic attitudes from the past underly drawings, sculptures, videos, varied works that translate space, both real and imaginary, through the body. For Teen Factory, a project which K.E. began more than two years ago, she has expanded her focus, allowing her attention to move beyond the immediate situation of studio sanctuary. Through simultaneous exhibitions in two cultural centers, K.E. has created environments that mirror one another, registering, through her personal and inscrutable constellations, that desire manifests without. 
Each exhibition comprises a platform, a synthetic setting staged with a patch of grass, an abstract swath of dirt, and a small pool of water. Around these elements, K.E. has arranged a series of free-standing sculptures that any city-dweller will recognize as sandwich boards. They dot the built environment, line pedestrian walkways, direct passers-by to businesses adjacent, in front of, or around the corner from their station. Isn’t it a little sad and funny when a sandwich board has fallen over? For K.E., they are almost denizens of her community, expectant as any to be noticed, the minor choreographers of attention. Here is one of her sculptures in New York: contrappasto in raw plywood like a dancer, sewn together with bright rainbow-colored string, a plastic bird poised at the peak of its joinery. Here is one in Berlin: just over head high, stripes careen down its interior slope, odd-sized apertures sliced through the opposite board, the word “Anna” lazer cut and black laquered, dangling in the dimension between its leaning uprights. Elsewhere: an inverted sandwich board, a cracked-open egg nested in its flat joint of a craw. Or another: Mickey-Mouse-racecar-cock leveled to the ground. 
Scaled to the body, they capture the exuberant, chaotic energy of K.E.’s hand; partially manufactured, and crafted to high-finish, they are also the rationally calculated objects of artistic industry. With a plexiglas base lazer-cut with ideograms - !, ?, *, etc. - one sandwich board, having sat for 2 years in the studio, was only completed when these symbols of agitated doubt and failure became its actual foundation. Is New York, or Berlin, or any other urban center, not gilded by youthful energy and perennially renewed by it? They are fed by this exuberance, and comfort by their ability to contain opposing ideas. In this way, K.E.’s sculptures perform; literally balanced at a point, they hold together the contradictory impulses of youthful desire and idealism. They crystalize and refract individual worlds, the joys and tragedies of collaged, geometrically multiplied selves. 
The specter of community haunts these exhibitions, however. CCTV systems installed in both galleries broadcast the installations live online, with footage from Berlin projected in New York and vice versa. If the sandwich boards were not already performing on their stages, the added element of surveillance finds them performing for each other, for the audiences in the galleries, or any interested party online. Like the sculptures themselves, the intrusion of the cameras’ stare harkens on the paranoia of urban space; but if this footage is at all invasive, it also shows the sculptures, like the foreign art communities, as distant, mirrored, conjoined halves of the same self. At night is perhaps when the sculptures have their most poignant effect; the infrared footage coloring them in gray tones: a surrogate community or a sense of foreboding? Perhaps, as the title invokes the teen, the experience vibrates with expectation, the pleasure and insecurity of completing the scene. 
K.E. originally envisioned hedgehogs roaming through the exhibitions. They are absent, but haunt Teen Factory still. Like naturalistic Zoo environments with no animal to be seen, they resonant with the tension of absence. K.E. evokes a similar character, alluded to in the installations, yet wandering outside the galleries’, or CCTV systems’ frame. In a video presented adjacent to the stage, K.E. walks, juts, darts backwards throughout her studio. Arms wrapped around herself, hands writhing like budding wings, she dodges the outstretched hand extended from behind the camera. K.E. acts a playful monster, an ad hoc slapstick born of studio frustration, a sense of becoming and going nowhere. She grunts and screeches, it is the score for the exhibition, the pre-verbal sounds humans make. Teen Factory is an homage to an imaginary city, by which confinement, K.E., like a teen, intuits a world of desire in people here as elsewhere. 

-Sam Korman, September 2015 


*All images are courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm

**Parallel exhibition to take place simultaneously at Simone Subal Gallery, New York.