On ‚Shy Room’ by Dr. Birgit Moeckel

Dr. Birgit Möckel, Manuscript of Speech, Opening
Jenny Brockmann: Shy Room, Haus am Lützowplatz, 11.11.2010

Space is at the center of Jenny Brockmann’s artistic work. Intimately related to it is man, who, from the inside or the outside, can experience it as an alterable form and as a fragile enclosure, which makes contact with him, acts out with him. As shy, grave, dismissive or compelling Jenny Brockmann’s rooms appear to behave, the large-format (monumental) but yet light-looking, flexible constructs sensitively react to man. At times, they seemingly adapt to his behavior and imitate it, e.g. by breathing in a gentle rhythm, like the “Cell“ in the garden does or by withdrawing and closing up, like the luminous “Shy Room“, which gave this exhibition its title, or even embracing the visitor (intruder) – as it can be experienced with another kinetic artwork bearing the title “Hug“, which is on exhibit in Kunsthaus Bethanien at Mariannenplatz. The title of the work is programmatic there as well as here and, with quite humanely-meant measures, defines nothing else than what the machine-moved sculpture does or what was included in and intended for it by Jenny Brockmann.

At first, only the outer form is speaking, supported by the chosen materiality and shimmering surface with a narrative force – as reduced and minimalistic as it may be. In front of the studio gallery – in the garden – it is iron round bars closing or opening to form a cell. By means of the slightly curved exterior walls moving in a gentle rhythm, they give further scope and free space to the inside, which is ever-open by use of “empty“corners. As hermetic as this “Cell“ might appear, it is available for the exploration of all directions inbetween heaven and earth. Encased alone by the architecture of the city or the area where it is installed, this flexible“coordinate system“ offers no more and no less than an autonomous spatial structure, following its own rhythm and making space and time visible as – and also situates it in – an ongoing process.

It seems paradoxical: That which seems so open in the outside and stays connected to urban space and nature becomes a closed “cell“ in the sheltered interior space. Here, it is thin, brightly painted wooden panels, which are only durable in the interior space, closing up to form a cube when approached, yet also letting traces of light leak out in a closed state, which can expand alongside the rounded edges without interruption, and, as light pathways, integrate the surroundings into the artwork – so as to sharpen the view of the object as a space in a space in such a quiet and poetic way – and lastly, to define the surrounding space, the gallery, as a “protective space“ in the meantime.

Whilst rounding it, stepping further and closer, we experience movement as a dialogue between approaching and retracting, inside ourselves (who by testing and touching with our eyes simultaneously are looking for the “right“ distance), as well as when observing the “Shy Room“, which attracts with its brightly shining interior, just to close up as soon as we get too close to it.

Light and shadow change the perception, the structure, ultimately the appearance of things, letting them be light, open, fragile or difficult to access, making them appear dense or massive, and opening up questions about the being and impact of space and area. This applies to built as well as natural spaces, spaces of experience and narrative structures relating to that.

Jenny Brockmann does not stage, she positions and situates and thereby shows changes and processes. She builds with material and light and puts things in motion. Again and again, she, who not only was a master student of Rebecca Horn, but also studied literature, philosophy and architecture and completed craft training, defines limits anew with a light touch, and thereby, putting real space into a new relation with the space of experience (and vice versa). She offers possibilities to be captured and to question what we see, feel, perceive.

With greatest intensity, Jenny Brockmann makes sure of that which is thought, seen and experienced over and over also in performances. With light beams, exponentiated e.g. by mirrors, spaces have been “scanned“ and with that, illuminated to their furthest corners, in order to retrieve their last secrets, as could be seen during her period of work in Basel.

The latest video that was created for this exhibition leads the artist to outdoor space. Who is running around relentlessly here, but is still always “to late for Wonderland“, as it says in the title? What is this tireless, bare-footed female Sisyphus in a sky blue outfit, which seems playful yet current, looking for in an autumnal forest? What or whom does she want to reach? As often as she storms up the slope skyward, a hole closes in the earth – concealed, covered and offering new soil, just humus, which is augmented by autumn leaves year by year. In the dia projection placed across, autumn leaves are shown as well (a detail of vines in the inner yard), also spatially revealing new perspectives from this point of view.

Jenny Brockmann subtly plays with experiences and lastly expectations we relate to certain spatial structures. A series of drawings and sketches form the start of an idea and its execution, leading to a performance or a kinetic, interactive sculpture. Here, watery streaks of ink can cut their way even against gravity, light and shadow can make up pastose as well as diffuse spatial planar structures or, in utmost severity – black and white – can clash and make spaces and, even more so, spaces inbetween, have forms never seen like this, opening or closing them.

In three small sketches, plane, line and space join up to sequences that almost seem cineastic. Here, man is present too, not as a discernible figure, but as mass, or is it energy unfolding its effect inside of a cube? Might some of that reach outside? In several stages, the heart of a performance is outlined here.

In a many-faceted manner – from an idea to an accessible or not accessible sculpture – Jenny Brockmann explores spaces, structures, matter and light. Realistic as much as subtle and imaginative – and always willingly incalculable on the large scale – she questions handed down experiences and expectations that relate to these spatial structures. Limits and coordinate systems related to them are seemingly moved effortlessly (preferably pneumatically, mechanically) and thereby situated anew, to the “scope“ that allows thoughts a free space – including movement and not least time.

copyright Dr. Birgit Möckel, 2010