Currently on view at Sprüth Magers in Berlin, the gallery presents a selection of works by Hanne Darboven, the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work at the Berlin gallery. Compiling her works Erdkunde I, II, III (Geography I, II, III) (1986) and (Süd-) Koreanischer Kalender / (South) Korean Calendar (1991), the exhibition marks the beginning of the gallery’s worldwide representation of the Darboven Estate.
Known for her serial writing pieces and date-based cross sum calculations hung as wall-spanning blocks of identically framed paper works, Darboven was a leading voice in the development of the historical movement of conceptual art. Her work here Erdkunde I, II, III (Geography I, II, III), consists of over 700 panels, each containing four vertical-format, annotated and collaged DIN A4 sheets, constructed by the artist with components characteristic of her work: wavy-line drawings resembling cursive script, handwritten encyclopedia quotes from entries about the “Earth” or “Geography,” copies from scientific non-fiction books, illustrations from display boards and black-and-white photographs of her studio or exhibition views. Each individual page is rounded out with lists of place names, monuments, objects, historical people and events, offering a survey of the full thematic range of Darboven’s work.
Darboven expands the gargantuan wall hangings to include ten free-standing wooden classroom displays that add a third dimension to the work. The classroom displays visualize various elements of classic Geography and general study curricula. A map, views of a mountain landscape, and a schematic diagram of lignite and hard coal mining activity reflect the educational content of past decades while also offering insight into traditional, analogue means of educating and conveying knowledge.
The result of the artists’s compositions are a series of intersecting concepts and constructions, states of material that are able to combine and break apart at a moments notice, the viewer empowered within the network of data to construct meanings and correlations, although one often feels overloaded with the sheer possibilities contained within her works. The panels Darboven selects serve as a point of departure and material for creating new connections and constellations and testing her own systems of order. The idea of daily constructions and transmissions of knowledge are here turned into an open system, speaking to the basic, encyclopedic endeavor to summarize the totality of all knowledge. At the same time her art shows not only a cognitive recording and mediation of historical and scientific facts, but also an increased striving for the sensual immediacy and authenticity of the physical world.
Taken as a whole, one is invited to dive into Darboven’s constructions of data, and to build their own networks of meaning, while never losing site of their agency in doing so.
The artist’s show closes February 26th, 2020.
— D. Creahan
Hanne Darboven at Sprüth Magers [Exhibition Site]