Labyrinth der gestischen Tropen

2021 | Multi Media Installation

Exhibited at the Centre des Arts Pluriels à Ettelbrück (CAPE) in February and March 2021, the multi-media installation Labyrinth der gestischen Tropen is the outcome of Suzan Noesen’s experience during her stay at the intentional community “Ökodorf Sieben Linden” and in other communes around Berlin, Potsdam and Leipzig over five years. What began as a reflection on community – social roles, group dynamics and identities – became an experiment of colour, textures, and light in a small village of wooden frames and translucent cotton. The audience’s initial position is within the comfort of these soft materials, that, nevertheless, entrap reminding a cabinet of mirrors without reflections: a labyrinth of exposure. In these wooden constructions, the transparency of the cotton allows no fixed image but invites an elusive play of light and mellow colours contrasted with the striking blues, greens and pinks of the acrylic paint and dyed fabric. The paintings on textile vary from abstract circles and rectangles to the depiction of a giant, detached hand in The Replaceable Hand? or the Invisible Rack, a blue, checkered fabric floating on the green textile canvas. Referring to medieval social roles of the king, the peasant or the vassal, such social identities are reduced to archaic shells. The colours, circular forms and materials re-appear in the photographs: a hand stretching the skin of a wounded body in Hands-On and another hand grabbing the folds of violet curtains. These scenes of touch and reaching inject the piece with three skins: the photographic print, the natural skin, as brittle and thin as the fine cotton dominating the installation, and the curtain fabric into which we immerse, the cloths of our everyday. The thinness of these skins, figurative and material, folds between the structures of wood and clashes with the eccentricities of the bright pinks, blues, and greens, and the pain of the scarlet flesh exposing a tender fragility. The two video installations are set up in a small box and projected onto the ground. Tropes Stencils Remainders 01 picks up the theme of touch, and gestures in small close ups of hands at work, in conversation or resting. Here, Noesen’s experiences in communities translates into an imprint or study of a social body, which she exposes as interactions full of intimacy and risk: the fragile skins that meet. Here, Labyrinth der gestischen Tropen reaches out and touches its audience through its surfaces and textures offering the experience of communal living as, both, a landscape of social codes, the tropes of socialisation, and as the surficial, sensual encounter with proximity. In Constant Reset, a consciousness arises only to be perpetually erased as a hand writes “ALL I USED TO KNOW IS ALL I USED TO KNOW” in a loop. We are then left with uncertainty, which, nonetheless, opens this space of contact to new possibilities of care and vulnerability.

Links: CAPE – Labyrinth der gestischen Tropen

Exhibition booklet with text by Céline Offermans