Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s Vanishing Lines

2015Animation, HD video, 10:10, loop, stereo. Audio: Silvia Pachler.

In what is, prima facie, a mesh of abstract lines, no few of the works that Sophie Taeuber-Arp completed between 1940 and 1942 in her exile in southern France manifest a symbolism of war, persecution and flight, showing six-pointed stars, hooks, and whips. The compositions of lively, curved lines have, in part, something lost, floating, broken, irrational about them, which, in all Taeuber-Arp’s earlier works, would have been wholly uncharacteristic. Yet for all the horrifying events hinted at, these drawings are highly aesthetic entities. In Taeuber-Arp’s cycle of works entitled ‘Lignes…’, an aspect of DADA re-emerges – the (meaning-denying) art of refugees from war.

The animation, which combines eight of her works from the ‘Lignes’ series with photographs from WW2, shows the connection and the discrepancy between Taeuber-Arp’s artistic activity and the world of war and persecution. The video thereby highlights a dilemma facing artists to this day, of making art in a time of injustice and violence. There is good reason to animate Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s compositions, as she developed a striking number of variations out of the same basic elements for her series and because dance, movement and rhythm play an important role throughout her œuvre.

Installation: large-scale projection as solo exhibit in the blacked-out space. Abruptly alternating light and dark pictures make for an exhibition space now lit relatively brightly, now dark.

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