With these parallel exhibitions of works by Sarah Ortmeyer and Florian Hüttner the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst
presents two artistic positions with fundamentally different approaches.
Sarah Ortmeyer wrests individual persons and situations from their historical contexts and reassembles them in unfamiliar and thought-provoking constellations. Established historical fact forms the basis for an idiosyncratic and subjective perspective which extends its fictions into the present day. The associations evoked by her films, installations, and objects enrich our encounter with the past and reveal the magic that slumbers within what we hold to be established fact. Ortmeyer uncovers the layers and connections that exist behind the neutral information with which we are so familiar, yet which so rarely impinges on our lives. Her works draw out the potentially subversive elements hidden within historical narratives through an approach that is reminiscent of what Claude Levi-Strauss described as bricolage in his work La Pensée sauvage, referring to the fundamental human need to create new myths from the signs and meanings available within a socio-historical context.
The exhibition NAVY ROYAL at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen explores the 1918 mutiny of the German High Seas Fleet. While NAVY ROYAL subtly draws on both the gallerys location on the Teerhof Island on the the Weser River and the citys maritime history, the exhibition is not directly site-specific. Instead, Ortmeyers works manifest a more general interest in the historical event that marked the first stirrings of the November Revolution and the end of the monarchy in Germany. The works displayed in the exhibition explore various aspects of these events and trace the reach of monarchical structures into contemporary society. The exponents include a fishermans anchor placed poignantly on a crack found in the gallery floor, a sailors uniform tailored in red cloth, a pyramid of rifles which oscillates between the realms of gritty realism and childrens playthings, a sea sack with a map of Bremens waterways, a film played in reverse showing sunken ships re-emerging from the depths, and Ortmeyers visual research on the children dressed in sailors uniforms and the glamorous portrayal of monarchs in contemporary gossip magazines NAVY ROYAL sketches out a broad vision that explores questions of freedom, resistance, power, individuality and yearning.
Sarah Ortmeyer was born in Frankfurt/Main in 1980. She studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main under Wolfgang Tillmans and Simon Starling. She currently lives in Vienna.
Florian Hüttner (born 1964, lives in Hamburg) employs a diverse range of media, including drawing, photography, installation, performance, and sound and film recordings, to create new ways of experiencing urban space. FLUSS-VERSCHLAG (riverside shack) will see Hüttner create a site-specific installation at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst: an open-sided structure situated on the prominent riverside building façade which will temporarily extend the gallery space. Hüttners 5m x 9m x 2m extension cannot be entered, but its interior is visible through the gallery windows. Bearing all the hallmarks of a provisional building extension, the structures most prominent characteristics are its contingency and flexibility. This parasitic architecture is visible to gallery visitors, as well as pedestrians across the river, passing motorists and shipping on the river as a temporary landmark which leaves its mark on its surroundings.
Cameras set up within FLUSS-VERSCHLAG monitor the immediate environment: animals, plants, people, other cameras, ships and the Weser River. These images are projected into the interior and form a shifting collage superimposed upon the artists drawings. In doing so FLUSS VERSCHLAG creates a simultaneous perception of interior and exterior space, various media, representations, and modes of time. A collection of research materials, including photographs, drawings, posters and objects, offers insight into the materials which Hüttner has drawn on and the focus of his artistic work. The collection includes photographs of temporary structures built by the homeless the makeshift and temporary aura of these structures and their location on the margins of contemporary urban space have made them an important source of inspiration for his work at the GAK.
Working in the tradition of Robert Smithson, Florian Hüttner draws on such aspects as the use of materials taken from other functional settings, the confrontation with pre-existing architecture, and the temporary occupation and redefinition of urban space. In spite of a certain affinity with the works of such visual composers as Courbet and Manet, Hüttners approach is resolutely two-dimensional in its exploration of landscape in drawings, photography and film. In that sense FLUSS-VERSCHLAG constitutes a graphic extension of space, rather than an architectural or sculptural element.