Searching for the Shapes Within

Persons Projects is delighted to announce the upcoming group exhibition Searching for the Shapes Within, which will present works by Grey Crawford | KwieKulik | Teresa Murak | Riitta Päiväläinen | Finnbogi Pétursson | Ragna Róbertsdóttir | Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir | Ryszard Wasko.

Exhibition: 21 November 2020 – 6 March 2021
Venue: Persons Projects, Lindenstr. 35, 10969 Berlin

The Art World of the 1960-70’s experienced a healthy transformation in perception with the emergence of Performance and Land Art. These new modes of artistic expression challenged the traditional white cube scenario of what art is and how it should be exhibited. Using our natural environment as its own stage for creative interpretations in whatever form, helped in laying the foundations in how art is perceived in this century.
Searching for the Shapes Within is a group exhibition presented by Persons Projects, that focuses on the earth as a common base for these different artistic interventions. What we see, breathe and stand on is part of the natural world we build our state of being from. Yet in reality it’s a combination of numerous elements and shapes all converging together to form an environment that’s in constant flux. What all these artists share in common is a mutual sense for experimentation that creates new frames for thought. Their works form a 50-year timeline, beginning in the early 1970’s up until the present, that engages in a joined dialogue that spans from California, Iceland, Finland, Poland to Israel
They share a collective approach in how they use our natural landscape as the basic material for their frames of thinking. These pieces find their beginnings from the Mojave (California) and Negev (Israel) deserts, onto the glaciers of Iceland, back to the forests of Finland and finally to the rolling hills of Poland. Their bond is not bound by a place, rather a cognitive approach in understanding the aspects of meaning through the process of doing. Their methodologies may differ yet they all share a performance like sensibility in the realization of the final image. These works represent personal stages without borders, where there is no other audience but the future.

The best way to describe Finnbogi Pétursson’s process of thinking is to imagine what the center of the earth might sound like. His focus is on silence as a concept for thought and being. 
Finnbogi Pétursson uses his art as conduits to enhance the observer’s sensibilities to visually and physically experience a state of mind induced by a moment of movement. For his Centre work, Pétursson found beneath the Snæfellsjökull Glacier, which symbolically represents the entrance into the earth, a lava stone. He inserted a microphone within its center mass and used a FM radio transmission to bring out the sound inaudible under natural circumstances, perceptible and thus conveys a feeling of materiality and nature’s life of its own, perhaps coming from the innermost part of the earth. He utilizes the mythical story in Jules Verne’s book A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Here we find Professor Otto Lidenbrock as the tale’s central figure, an eccentric German scientist along with his nephew Axel and their Icelandic guide Hans going inside the volcano Snæfellsjökull and then encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards. They eventually surface in southern Italy, by an active Stromboli Volcano.

Ragna Róbertsdóttir’s minimalistic roots date back to the early 1980s, beginning with her earliest experimentations with the various indigenous materials inherent with the Icelandic environment. What has been consistent throughout her extensive career is her sensibility in how she interprets the materiality in finding the symmetry within her work. Róbertsdóttir’s method of working is all about finding the emotional balance between the material used and the occupied space. Her floor sculptures are derived from finely cut blocks of basaltic rock, then stacked in geometric forms, each unique and emitting a timeless sense of weightlessness almost as if their floating within the given space. 
"I use a special type of porous grey lava rock found in Iceland. It is a basaltic rock filled with cracks and holes, which are caused by gas bubbles being trapped inside the erupted magma as it rapidly solidifies. I have these coarse and imperfect identical columns (each cut reveals a different and unique surface) and then I stack them in a sequence of differently shaped sculptures. In these works, lava is far more than an inert material, its texture and appearance constitute an active power, and in using it I bring the Icelandic outdoors into the work and thus into the exhibition space." 

Grey Crawford is an American artist residing in Los Angeles, California. His photographic works from the 1970’s and early 1980’s have recently been discovered and represent some of the first experimentations with manipulating black and white and color photography. During this time period he also simultaneously, explored a series of performance enhanced works connected with Land Art. 
These recently discovered works in this exhibition mark the first time they have ever been exhibited and establish Grey Crawford as one of the most unique artists to evolve out of Southern California from the 1970s. His El Mirage series created in the Mojave Desert represents a group of performance-enhanced photographic works from the mid-1970s that captures his very early experimental play. Crawford, utilizing steel and glass plates, one to be thrown into the air to randomly land within a designated space, the other as a building material for momentary structures. 
"I started with metal shapes and I would throw them into the air and document their flight and how they would plunge into the ground. Then I would mark an area with either string or chalk and throw the plates in the air, hoping to land within the framework of his designated space. Metal has a permanence and integrity of its own. Realizing this and how it looked, I wanted to experiment with the opposite. I started using glass for building basic architectural structures to emphasize the contrasting qualities between the hard and sharp edges of metal with the soft transparent, visually arresting, ultimately breaking traits associated with glass.” 
Using the vastness of the desert plane as his ultimate stage, Crawford uses the photographic process to record his multifaceted performances using both Black and White and color photography. These minimal performance-based constructions reflect Crawford’s fascination with exploring the possibilities that emerge through the photographic perspective of angle and view combined with light and time, motion sequencing, to create new architectural realities. 

Ryszard Wasko’s role as an artist cannot be separated from his role as a curator and organizer of some of the most important art events behind the Iron Curtain. As a member of Film Form Studio, Wasko concentrated on the conceptual analysis of the medium: he created videos, photographs, drawings and installations in which time, space, movement and perception were the main subjects. In 1995, Ryszard Wasko organized the 5th edition of Construction in Process, which took place in the Negev desert in Israel. The idea behind this event was to carry out the work on site, in the context of a given situation  social, political and economic. The main title of that edition was Design in Process, Co-existence. Its purpose was to support the peace process in the Middle East, more specifically, between Palestine and Israel. Wasko states, "The idea of my work came to my mind when I saw a huge natural crater cutting through the Negev desert. This crater was about 1 km deep and was enchanting to me because of its charm and scale. In order not to disturb its ‘pristine’ character, I decided to create a large, simple painting made out of sand and pigments which were left over from past eruptions. The painting was located on a hill inside the crater, with the dimensions of a football field, and pigments were brought from the bottom of the crater. Therefore, the entire process of creating a picture, despite the large number of participating artists, was time-consuming and lasted from dawn to noon. I titled this painting Seven Paths of Roses, because it was a metaphor for the planting of roses in my garden at home. An interesting aspect of this work is that the installation could not be seen in its entirety from the surface of the hill on which it was made. Its overall view could only be captured from the top, above the crater, from a height of approx. 700 meters. My intention was also that this sand painting would be destroyed by the sand storms that often occurred in the desert.”

KwieKulik was an artistic duo consisting of Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek, who were active in this constellation between 1971 and 1987. Within the frame of this cooperation, they carried out actions and interventions, constructed installations and objects, worked with texts, films, slideshows and mail-art. 
In December 1971, during an extended discussion between the students of sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, professor Oskar Hansen, and other contributors at the Close-Ups of the Young Creative Workshop in Elblag, a suggestion was put forward by Przemysław Kwiek, to move the discussion from the smoke-filled room into the open air, and replace verbal discussion by action collaboration with objects. Oskar Hansen then developed this idea, and introduced strict rules to the planned action (game). The participants divided into two groups: Whites and Blacks choose a hill where Henryk Morel’s sculpture Destruction was located. When one group performed a "movement”, the second group looked at this and had to respond after a time (the next movement was induced by the previous group’s movement). Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek found wooden sticks, a long white canvas and red fabric in the basement of the Culture House, which was then used in this interactive art game. Within three hours, fourteen movements had been constructed. This slideshow documents one of the first times this nonverbal group action was recorded. 

Teresa Murak is one of the principal pioneers of Performance, Land and Feminist Art in Poland. With her landscape pieces, Murak utilizes natural materials to create in her terms "organic architecture”. The concept and gesture of "sowing”  a spiritual and cosmic interpretation of the cultivation of seeds – defines Murak’s body of work and helped her in developing her own style of performative art that engaged with ritual processes. 
A performative work Sculpture for the Earth was the first in Teresa Murak’s series of Equilibrium of Balance and is considered to be one of the first examples of Land Art in Europe. The work was created for an art symposium curated by Yoshio Nakajima and held in Swedish town Ubbeboda, in 1974. Teresa Murak designed a work based on geometric orders. She made a compass from a stick and a string and started by drawing two circles on the ground that had a radius of 162 cm, exactly the artist’s height. That became the basis for the diameter and depth. For thirty days, she dug out a half of a hole, using only a shovel and her hands as a means to dig and then remove the extracted dirt to form an adjoining mound. The installation took the form of two half-spheres shifted against each other — a depression and an elevation — with a total diameter of about four meters. Following its completion, Murak sowed both mound and the hole with soaked cress seeds that sprouted, literally in a few hours. The sculpture was destroyed three days later by a bulldozer following the orders from the city, despite the effort from the immediate neighbors who tried in vain to save the artwork by condoning it off with their cars as a means of protection.

Landscape plays an essential role in Riitta Päiväläinen’s work. It is not only a topographical objective phenomenon, but a very personal choice. A secluded landscape, in which she makes the installation, functions as an inspiration as well as a temporary stage and becomes a starting point for her photographs. Her site-specific temporary nature installations are self-constructed, using fabrics and textiles she finds in second hand stores, flea markets and reclamation centers. By following her intuition and inner voice, Päiväläinen uses materials that easily blend into and interact with the natural landscapes. Her choice of fabrics for these interactions is determined by their color, tactility and fragility. By cutting and sewing them together, she creates long textile strips that will eventually be draped within these pristine isolated places to create her temporary organic sculptures. These interventions can be seen as a space of sanctuary  fragile residences for imaginary people, a place for refuge. For Riitta Päiväläinen, building and creatively integrating these assembled shelters and constructions in the woods acts as a link to her memories of childhood and being one with nature: "When I enter the forest, I recall my childhood and the feeling, what it felt to be a child in the forest  somehow the forest sheltered me.” By combining natural and artificial light, she creates and brings out different frames of mind and balance. These installations radiate timelessness, which carries its own defenseless fragility by reminding us how important it is to be one with our natural environment. Riitta Päiväiläinen seeks out places that somehow have been forgotten by civilization and untouched by humanity’s presence. The Shelter series took place in Saari and Kökar, Finland. These selected sites become Päiväläinen’s playgrounds for her interactions where her fabric installations create their own atmosphere using light and shadows as her own personal vernacular. 

Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir is an Icelandic artist who concentrates her focus on interpreting the processes within her work that abstract the notion of time passage by how nature flows, moves and transforms itself through her interventions. Her works and installations are constructed from indigenous materials inherent within her Icelandic environment and are staged to reflect a performance-like quality as they transform themselves from one state to another. Her artistic practice is a study in materiality through her various combinations that contrast and juxtapose their material differences. Tryggvadóttir stages natural elements in different states of transformation to exaggerate the obvious  using her surroundings as her conceptual quarry to bend, mold and move extracted moments from history and her own imagination into the shapes she uses in this exhibition. 
45 kilometers east of Reykjavik, Iceland, the Eurasian and the American tectonic plates meet. Each year they are slowly drifting apart, uncovering a lowland of a previously hidden fauna in between the two tectonic shelves. This is the Þingvellir fields, referring to the Icelandic word for parliament: ‘thing’. At this very spot, the world’s oldest parliament, the ‘Althing’, founded in 930 AD, was once situated. 
In late October 2018, the grass in the Þhingvellir National Park started to move. When approaching the piece of land, a discrete circular cut appears in the grass-covered soil. Forming a piece of land that is separated from the rest of the field, it takes the shape of a small island. Fifty meters away, a steep rift rises above the wet grass, reminding us of the linear geological fractions, insisting on sharp-edged divisions between land and time. The same year, Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir created there a slowly rotating island. She dug a round hole and placed a custom-designed engine, similar to the ones in large boats which keep the installations in movement every 24 hours. Through the anachronism of the moving grass seeds, it redistributes land for each turn. A slow refusal of cultural geography is manifested in the lowland.

To find out more about the participating artists and the exhibited works, please download the full press release.

Should you have any question regarding this exhibition or would wish to receive further information and material upfront, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Supported by