Floor (Boden), 1991/2016

since

S. Bitter-Larkin Gallery, New York, 1991
Plywood, concrete, 22 × 550 × 2493 cm, elevator: 22 × 180 × 125 cm
Photo © Martin Lauffer, 1991

Johnen Galerie / Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2016
Plywood, concrete, 150 m2
Photos © Andrea Rossetti, 2016

30 years ago Karin Sander, then still an unknown artist, placed the participants of a symposium at Wasserschloss Glatt, including herself, on plinths and called this work Figuren auf Sockeln [Figures on Stone Plinths]. Five years later, when she was already much better known, she put everybody who visited the gallery S. Bitter-Larkin in New York on a plinth—she had inserted a second floor, 15 cm high and with a distance of 15 cm from the walls, which fundamentally changed the spatial sensibilities of all involved. Two years later still, she executed the same principle in a more playful manner by raising all seats and worktables at Thread Waxing Space in New York with red velvet cushions once again by 20 centimeters. Since then, this seemingly very simple artistic strategy of changing spaces through minimal interventions to maximum effect has been a constant in Karin Sander’s work. A shared characteristic of her space-related works is that by changing just a single spatial parameter she alters the entire situation; that is often laconic and precisely…..? because of that also surprising; through leaving out, opening, tipping over or, indeed, adding something, it makes something visible that would have otherwise remained invisible. That now, after a quarter of a century, she shows the work Second Floor from the S.-Bitter-Larkin-Gallery once again, is on the one hand the artist’s self-reflection on a conceptual approach that at the time could lay claim to being valid, and without doubt can still do so today. At the same time, the work is a reference to the work of the gallerist Jörg Johnen, which also spans thirty years and can be summed up very simply: here someone has, with unique precision, won and exhibited artists, and simultaneously has explicitly exercised personal restraint, stepping behind the act of exhibiting extraordinary art. Thus one might say that artist and gallerist meet in this gesture of showing, with effortlessness and completely evident in the work itself: they show what is possible when you truly engage with something. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Karin Sanders dedicates a second work quite explicitly to those exhibitions that would not have existed without Johnen. And once again with her use of the anachronistic medium of the postcard she connects the work to a series of early and earlier works that also played with this form of a displaying communication. In short, in a highly elegant manner, stories are being told here of how good art changes the world when good people show it.

Text: Harald Welzer (Translation: Wilhelm Werthern)