On the Edge

 A joint exhibition of IG BILDENDE KUNST and AIR – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Niederösterreich

Duration: 26. 4. – 4. 7. 2024

Opening: 25. 4. 2024
Artists: Ayesha Zulfiqar (PAK), Elisabeth Czihak (A)

The exhibition On the Edge presents the work of two artists whose interest is directed towards the spatial and geometrical, including considerations not only in terms of the gaze, but invariably also the relation to corporeality. Both Ayesha Zulfiqar and Elisabeth Czihak deal with instances of formal abstraction, with spatial emptiness and absence, with gaps and negative space. In this case, however, space is not up for discussion as a homogeneous expansion, nor as an abstract figure of thought or even as an absolute. Instead, both artists are concerned with questions pertaining to the respective viewpoint, the shifting relation to space, which ultimately also includes the relation to space and place in a social and urban sense.

During her residency at AIR – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Niederösterreich in Krems from February to April, Pakistani artist Ayesha Zulfiqar developed small-scale ceramic and porcelain sculptures that deal with spatial geometries, or more specifically the inversion phenomenon of space turned into surface and vice versa. In the process, Zulfiqar creates two-dimensional permutations of initially triaxial structures (cubes), which subsequently regain objecthood by their transcription into small geometric clay sculptures. The given, physical, and tactile at first leads into graphical abstraction, only to open at once into real space as a kind of sculptural feedback. Zulfiqar’s work therefore not only manifests an incidence of change, but a reciprocal pervasion of different spatial layers and ontologies. In a second group of works, the artist erects an imaginary volume via corner fragments modelled in porcelain and recurring to her studio space in Krems, which not only expands but in a subtle manner transcends the given, actual space of the exhibition.

Elisabeth Czihak portrays the vacant rooms of a downright icon of Viennese architectural history through large-scale analogue photography, yet her photographs of the Villa Beer in Vienna’s Hietzing district are less concerned with aestheticizing certain formal qualities of the building; rather, she presents the interiors as former “habitats” and consequently bearers of temporal traces and signatures of human life and activity. It seems that Czihak not only encounters the interiors, their connections and spatial paradoxes visually, but akin to an anthropogenic palimpsest also subjects them to a careful interrogation, connecting different layers of time. She shows the spaces unadorned, as they are, damaged, neglected; on the one hand latently broken in their iconic grace and on the other hand with a certain degree of sovereignty. The gaze proves to be a tactile, searching instrument; it is not an authorial eye, but a corporeally moving and sensing, empathic gaze. Here, the timeless, even auratic quality of the architecture does not simply encounter traces of use, which in fact refer to a dimension of change and transformation, to moments of architectural “individuation”.

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