On view this month at New York’s JTT Gallery, artist Anna-Sophie Berger presents a selection of new works that draw on bodies, space and perception to create striking visual and psychological effects. Using a fusion of everyday materials posed in unique new permutations, her body of work is a striking and potent investigation of how these items construct a shared reality, or perhaps just the sense of one.
Trained in fashion, Berger maintains a sculptural practice informed by a psychosocial and economic understanding of objects – their individual use as well as their commodification, and often embeds her objects and installations with a complex symbolic language. By taking recourse to stage organization in theater her sculptures can appear as actors as well as props. In several new works this manifests through the appropriation of components from works of art from the early modern period, such as the Unicorn Tapestries or the allegory of Wealth from the medieval epic poem “Romance of the Rose.” Christian scholastic themes are scrutinized for their bearing on contemporary notions of morals. Other sculptures isolate elements of incidental design from shared municipal spaces including playgrounds, parks, and construction sites. Thus, Berger links the ever-contingent meaning of objects to both their popular and historical understanding.
Here, this approach finds an intriguing center on her work Lady Wealth, a lone figure standing between a pair of comical green frogs, ostensibly drawn from a commercial or civic context. Here, her works merge these bodies in a shared space, twisting a distinct sense of high-fashion elegance with a more rooted, public backdrop, as if a ball had emptied out into a nearby park. Berger poses these forms and their attendant contexts in direct conversation, a scene emerging from the initial dissonance to create the sense of a new possibility. In other works, she works on a more subtle level, like in Occam’s Razor, where a set of ladders are zip-tied together, forming a uniquely evocative, geometric form.
Throughout, Berger makes much of the image and its affective capacities, using her forms to build and destroy narrative arcs, to create tensions and misunderstandings, and then to let new meaning arise from the dust. The show closes June 18th.
– D. Creahan
Anna-Sophie Berger at JTT [Exhibition Site]