David Rauer & Joshua Sassmannshausen: Forma Forma
17th July – 30th October 2016
Interior Architecture of Exterior Architecture of Interior Architecture
“Forma Forma“ is maybe the longest version of a threshold that has ever been built, maybe it is the most supernatural way to tunnel under a church interior, a transformer into a finely spun texture, a kind of reinterpretation of orientation loss experienced by people as a route measuring 260 meters. Artists David Rauer and Joshua Sassmannshausen gracefully manipulate space and perception to extend the distance between main entrance and side exit to 20 times its original length in such a way that any visitor who attempts to reach the side exit once again ends up at the main entrance. The artists employ plywood boards to create a detailed labyrinth that fills up the entire hall, providing abundant twisting paths on which the visitor can travel to entirely new thought dimensions and experiences through exploration of diverse nooks, crannies, corners, spy holes, and caves. A 10-meter long sky house extends above the wandering paths of the labyrinth, decorated with sculptures and a thickly protruding entrance, and inside the choir room the visitor is greeted by creatively placed Styrofoam mats.
The artists have previously exhibited work as guests in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück at the 2014 “24/7 “event. Their exhibit “Catwalk” was spontaneously erected in the foyer of the hall, and stood for two hours. The director of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Dr. Julia Draganović, comments: “The artists present an amazing walkable Architecture Within Architecture installation, in a unique form not previously seen in Osnabrück.” Dr. Draganović further points out that “Der Merzbau by Kurt Schwitters (1923), Bruce Naumanns Live/Taped Video Corridor (1970), Gregor Schneiders Totes Haus u r (1985) and Tino Segals performance This Progress (2010) are important references that reveal the transformations that have occurred in performance and installation, observer movement within the room, walking as an artistic action, and empathy.
“The room-filling installation by David Rauer and Joshua Sassmannshausen in Osnabrück also carries historical significance with reference to the Dominican convents: After 1945 these secular convents became safe havens for refugees that had fled their homeland. In order to provide temporary housing, three levels (!) were built via the installation of two dividing wooden platforms within the nave of the convents, says Dr. Draganović.
Furthermore, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung comments: “Forma Forma highlights an art history fraught with scandals using an effective montage of different quotes.” This giant snake placed into the context of a Dominican Convent is praised by art critic Dr. Stefan Lüddemann, who is of the opinion that the quotes are part of what defines the quality of this installation.
Rauer and Sassmannshausen challenge the visitors physical and cultural orientation abilities, requiring them to engage in all their senses to navigate and interpret the meaning of the bent narrow passages and dead ends that could be meant as Kafkaesque, but perhaps also as ironic. The installation contains references to the neighboring museum built by Daniel Libeskind, which manifests hints of the ruin architecture seen in the work of Thomas Hirschhorn, as well as erotic touches in the air-pillow-locks entranceway, as commented on by the NDR which compared the door system to a “vagina”. For those who remember the reference work of Niki de Saint-Phalle, this element is of culture-historical significance. Eventually we compromised with the artists to call it “Micky Mouse” – which can be openly interpreted.
It is clear that David Rauer and Joshua Sassmannshausen work with several obvious references, which by their nature lead the visitor to certain conclusions. The artists used the four weeks allotted for them to build the installation to create architecture that will not only be observed and interpreted by the viewer, but has intrinsic meaning that will manifest itself physically on the viewer. The two thousand year old Art and Performance-tradition of walking (from the Kreuzgang or cloister walking, the “walk” through life, the walk through the park landscape, landscape painting, the landmarks of Richard Long, the age old concept of mapping, to finally the two day performance “Systems of Weight” by Ernesto Pujol) will get an additional layer of meaning without any limits.
The artists used 1,300 square meters of packing plywood to build the installation. “ Upon arrival the plywood plates had gone almost around the world and contained markers for assembly that were not removed completely. The observant visitor might therefore notice some footprints, number combinations, and stickers placed like stenograms on the plates, which have developed an independent life post-installation,” says David Rauer. When asked about their work the artists say: “Maybe the 130 meter long threshold room is in itself a capsule in which you are trapped, and inside of which the concepts of inside and outside merge in various different ways.”
There may be some truth to these words; to leave the installation the visitor must come back to the beginning. Therefore the artists effectively create a space-time threshold, which the visitor will no longer leave via the back door after the opening on 17th of July. Over 400 visitors were able to walk through the room in one direction during the premiere opening of the work. However, as regular opening times are set as of the 19th of July, visitors walking through the installation will meet other visitors exiting the room the same way they came in. We speculate that the experience of this exhibition will result in a renewal of threshold traditions.
The director of the Kunsthalle as well as the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Julia Draganović, has watched the four weeks of installation with growing fascination. She was impressed not only by the energy of the young artists, who often spent entire nights assembling new elements, but also by the “unbelievable creativity, the handcrafting skills, the richness of thought and ideas, and the art historical roots of all their elements, which give tremendous insight into art history of the 20th/21st century. As a result, they have the ability to realize their ideas almost instantly. It is their ease in connecting to perfection which makes ‘Forma Forma’ truly memorable and a one of a kind exhibition that will be firmly engrained into the exhibitory history of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück.” Art historical, cultural and literary context in regard to “Forma Forma” is given by a framework program and educational service.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Niedersächsischen Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur as well as the Landschaftsverband Osnabrücker Land. We are happy to be working with friends of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück e.V. The Kunsthalle Osnabrück is a cooperative partner of the artCard.
Further information on the artists: