A Kind of Silent Beauty
Original text from the speech by Falco Herlemann, Künstlerzeche Unser Fritz, Herne, 2th October 2010
The Waiting Room here in the Künstlerzeche is part of a series of installations with the same theme, which Barbara Koch has been creating during the last years. For each room she develops special pieces, which she installs on site. Her work Waiting Room IV ties in with her last installation. All other pieces were made for this exhibition.
Waiting Room IV shows embryo-like shapes made from plastic, which
are connected by translucent tubes. They move in rhythmically up and down as if they were breathing. Being protected in a box, they seem to be helpless and fragile – they appear artificial albeit alive.
The floor objects Bottom Flowers have similar shapes: they are rather undefined, amorphous forms consisting of white laundry, underwear sewn together. These shapes remind us of human figures nevertheless they remain fragments. They inhabit the room in groups and seem to be tangled in a strange way. Here too, tubes stick out of them, giving the sculptures something artificial and technical, while some of them diverge more and more from their human looking form.
At first, the origin of the wall pieces is not obvious. They are colourful tessellated reliefs, sometimes hung as group sometimes hung as individual piece. Looking at the smaller pieces, colourful elements are scattered randomly over the picture surface in other places patterns appear reminding us of flowers. In the large piece the artist creates almost organic looking structures, which run in broad colourful lines over the picture surface. Only if you step up closer to the pieces you realize that these tessellated fragments are tablets. Lab Sweets – sweets from the laboratory. By the way, the same sweets are also part of the curtain through which you entered the exhibition space. Threads of tablets, glued together with silicone, form the curtain.
The last piece consists out of a recliner, a TV on a typical TV table next to a floor lamp. TV, table, lamp and chair seem to be a little old-fashioned. This combination shows a very typical picture of many living rooms: a retreat from the world outside – getting immersed into an artificial media world. Nevertheless, the TV screen reveals very real images. A video shows Barbara Koch emptying wardrobes and shelves. Mostly it is clothing – neatly stacked before – but now being stuffed sullenly into blue trash bags. Close Distance – is the piece’s name. If you have a look at the artist’s face while she is performing in the video you might realize her uneasiness. Here somebody seizes things, which don’t belong to her, which are strange to her. However, at the same time, you get the feeling that the former owner watches her from behind.
Now you realize that all the pieces in this Waiting Room have a very personal aspect. The chair was the chair of the artist’s father, his retreat from the world, his submersion into an artificial television world. The tablets come from Koch parents’ stocks. The textile floor objects are sewn from her parents’ white underwear.
However, these personal aspects are actually irrelevant. With this Waiting Room, Barbara Koch creates images, which could or should be interesting for everybody. For Barbara Koch her Waiting Rooms are, as she says herself, a possibility to pause for a moment. They are quiet places while at the same time being places of alarm. Places to pause and contemplate. We as spectators can immerse ourselves in the space while being reminded of our own personal experiences.
Koch’s Waiting Room becomes a place of reflection about the human aging process, about the death and loss of people but also about the possibility of prolonging life and the never ending endeavour to fight diseases. All these impressions are supported by the somehow morbid charm of the exhibition space.
In this respect, the exhibition takes on a rather gloomy almost depressive topic, which we all doubtlessly try to suppress or which we refuse to deal with at all. For me, Barbara Koch is able to extract very intensive, impressive pictures from this facet of human live. And the colourful arrangements from tablets as well as the clinically white floor objects are beautiful in a very special way.