In the historic port of Berlin lies the cargo ship Heimatland, on which the Hosek Contemporary gallery shows its program. The ship was renamed for the installation of Kg Augenstern, so that the name that can be seen at the bow now is NOWHERE LAND instead of HEIMATLAND (Homeland). For the installation of the same name in summer 2021, Kg Augenstern removed mud from the bottom of Berlin's waters at various points with the help of tufts of sheep's wool attached to long tentacles. These points are listed on a map and can be traced in the installation with a drawing on the ground. The artists dried the mud and wool mixture into strange, unpleasant smelling, organic-looking flower shapes, which now populate the ship in the form of colorful mudflowers and tufts floating on tentacles.
You can also see ten old steel buoys that have been joined together to form five man-high double sculptures. These are grouped in a circle and scratched by a rotating tentacle in the center, causing them to move minimally. Due to the massive material, the individual objects appear very heavy. At the same time, their shape, their placement close to the tipping point and their grouping suggest a precarious situation, paired with dance-like ease. This impression is reinforced by the scratching of the tentacles on the objects, the resulting minimal fluctuations and the noises. The peculiar atmosphere in the cargo space of the ship is reinforced by a sound loop with the underwater noises that arose when collecting mud.
Nowhere Land is a suspended, weightless realm. It is a dark and mystical place, made of waves, elastic, scratchy, and subtle. It’s a Nowhere land. It’s a no-man’s-land, where time floats, jerking, rhythmically and arrhythmically. A realm of sound and vision, where humans are not seen, and if they do appear, their bodies, inevitably, tremble and vibrate.
The ship HEIMATLAND (“Homeland”) is rechristened NOWHERE LAND, also the title of the site-specific installation by Kg Auguenstern, which opens a temporal suspension in a lost landscape: a place where time abandons its significance and becomes, itself, a witness to itself, suspended and abandoned in a middle-earth. The nowhere land is an Illusion.
It is an audial, visual and olfactory immersion. A thin, subtle and powerful vibration. A continuous movement, a slow dance without dancers.
It’s a dark land where sounds emanate from 10 old buoys, joined together two by two, and operated upon, as by a surgeon, but by a tentacle. They tilt and sway slowly, in an uncanny ritual of colliding atoms. Once floating in water, now they move as though they were floating in the air, hanging, in nothingness. They have the shape of hourglasses, whether empty or full of their grains, where the fall of each real or imagined sand-kernel is slowed down by its own slanting trajectory.
The substance and the perception of time are one and the same, and in this place time flows slowly, or does not exist.
The tentacle, placed in the center of a circle of buoys, rotates, and practices irregular scratchings on their metal surfaces. Sometimes it intervenes penetratingly, powerfully; other times it touches down gently. Still other times it slips off into ether.
It strikes the buoys, causing them to move slowly, repeatedly mutating the angles inherent to their interrelational constellations. It’s an irregular rasping, comprised of unpredicted blows and subsequent suspensions of blows; the tentacle is a sound-activator, the Deus ex machina in a nowhere land.
Around the buoys, woollen brushes are arranged, presenting themselves atop the tentacles. Blooming, colourful Mud-flowers grow. Beautiful and bright to the eye. Light and fragile. They are precarious matter, formed into highly vulnerable shapes.
The wool, suffused in mud, has been spread out in the air and the sun, joining organic matter and inorganic matter, resulting in a single solid and fragile substance, and subsequently painted: this was a transformational process referring to alchemy and artifice itself.
The blooming multicoloured mud-flowers emit a strong and penetrating smell, not necessarily pleasant, that seems to reach into one’s bones and cause them to tighten.
Beauty is a visual illusion. The sense of smell reveals beauty’s darkness.
Hydrophone recordings of underwater scratching, together with the sounds heard “live,” are broadcast as an audio loop. These are the self-same tentacle’s products, captured by Kg Augenstern at the bottoms of rivers and canals.
They are the sounds of immersion, now surfaced in the overwater realm. They are foundation, where matter meets water. They are the grating at the basis of the fluid depths of earth, like the scratching with muddy hands, primitive and wild, on the walls of a cave.
In water, sound waves are perceived through the vibrating bones of our cranial cavities, which causes a loss of directional perception. Listening brings with it the loss of orientation.
The tentacle slides over substance, grazing it, and sinks in where its quarry is mud; it scratches violently when it meets solid elements. It seems to listen, as if it were not in water at all. The sound is almost imperceptible where born of mud, allowing one to perceive as well the movements of the water above, at the surface, allowing the emergence of a temporary light and a calm suspension.
All of these sounds are simultaneously audible in the installation space, where the submerged meets the emerged, leaving the latter in the background.
Listening results in the disorientation of audial directional perception, and reveals the visual illusion.
The mixed-media installation by Kg Augenstern resonates with meaning and its signifiers, in a circular and transversal way, generating myriad visual, sonorous and olfactory contingencies, and among the various elements present, countless circles and trajectories, material and immaterial, sensory and visionary, oriented and disoriented, display the possibilities of hypnosic and kinetic.
The art work by Kg Augenstern raises many questions and reveals, once again, the instability of existence.
Ennio Pellicanò / N38E13