Japan Diary Clages, 19 January - 24 February 2018

‘Do not complete things. Or, I should say, completion is just a process.’
Yamada Masaaki (1929-2010)

Anne Pöhlmann is not a traditional storyteller, or at least not an easy one. She isn’t here to whisper tender love stories and trips by the sea inside your ear, nor to scream and shout with all her might just to capture your wandering eye. She doesn’t demand attention, not even gently ask for it. Yet her unwillingness to be put in a box unveils the exact reasons that make her a fascinating artist. The idea that in her world, there isn’t really a box to begin with. She already found the box, broke it down, tore it into million tiny pieces and started from scratch.

The works presented at Clages Gallery are a selection of pieces completed during Pöhlmann’s 3-month stay in Japan, where she participated in a residency program organized by the Goethe-Institute. Architectural landscapes and urban scenery, everyday situations, portraits, fashion shoots as well as a series of nature themes, flower arrangements and Japanese gardens bring together a vivid personal documentation of her experiences. The photographs are printed on fabric, which is then combined with other textile pieces, all from the artist’s personal archive. At the same time textile details are photographed and used as a motive, a key concept used by Pöhlmann in various past projects. The Usage of fabric not only evokes the artist’s personal interest regarding fashion (many of the pieces come from trips, some are quite old, while others come from a more contemporary fashion context varying from works by Raf Simons to Christian Wijnants) but simultaneously implicates a crucial critical aspect of her work process. A series of books are also presented in the exhibition, opening a creative dialogue with the pieces themselves while the whole project “Japan Diary” is also to be published in book form by the artist.

The focal element that engages the viewer with the documents of her Japanese photographic encounters is the way they resist compromise. One’s confronted with highly stylized, clean-cut, and in a sense, almost self-referential compositions, emptied from any conventional sort of “meaning” and presented as a clear aesthetic argument. At the same time that kind of purist formalism is driven into a much more personal place, blurring the lines and limitations of what we became accustomed to perceiving as content. With neither an absolute structural object, where “you see, what you see”, nor some grand epic narration, that came to tell you exactly what to see and where to look at, Anne Pöhlmann, jumps back and forth interweaving both the vessel as well as its substance, fluidly combining Form and Message and composing a vivid pluralistic testimony hanging somewhere between a diary entry, a fashion show, an obscure Instagram post and a dream worthy photographic manipulation.

The material composition of the pieces themselves follows the same path, unraveling an almost analytical, yet also synthetic, complexity. “Framing fabrics“, Patchwork textile pieces, printed designs and architectural sketches come together in what seems to be an overlapping illusionistic game of impressions, where depiction, materiality and meaning clash with each other in an otherwise gentle dialogue.

Anne Pöhlmann took a trip, which became a journey, only to find its final destination in a fictional Japanese garden, barely hanging from a cloud up above, filled with many questions, a handful of answers, flower settings and fashion revolutions.
Are you willing to join?

 

Haris Giannouras

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