Andrea Buttner in Hull.
Recently I have been interested in Buttner’s work as she has an interest in Art Povera. She is nominated for the Turner prize this year. Buttner’s work ‘Beggars and Iphones’ uses the gallery space on two adjoining walls. The large scale wood cuts are a series of prints that she has made in response to Ernst Barlach’s sculpture ‘Verhullte Bettlerin’ a small wooden sculpture of a shrouded, kneeling figure with arms outstretched in a begging manner. The interest lies in the title where the beggars are placed next to the large scale etchings. The etchings at first look like mid-century abstract painting. In fact the large-scale etchings are taken from Buttners own phone where smears and fingerprint smudges traces her use. This is then enlarged to fit an aluminium frame with Perspex panel to imitate an Iphone. Behind the prints the fluorescent backdrop relates to uniforms of medics, security guards and builders labour. This show Buttner’s interest in clothing and its’ associated status.
The other prints shown are ‘Duck and Daisy’. I can only suppose that the title somehow refers to the Disney characters as Daisy characterized with a hair bow and being more sophisticated than Donald.
The centre of the space holds a series of images under glass set on a low table. Archive images from the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture from the Warburg Institute are presented. Depictions of beggars and information about the works ownership, date and place of sale is stated. The low table encourages the audience to crouch to read the images, mirroring the cowering beggar. Buttner’s interest in humility and poverty being a positive notion.
A substantial part of the exhibition has been borrowed by Buttner from the Peace Library/Anti-War Museum of the Protestant Church of Berlin. It contains text by philosopher, political activist and pacifist Simone Weil (1909-43). This display is typically loaned to community centres and libraries around Germany to educate people on Weil’s beliefs. Twenty six quotes are found among photographs by Adams, Kertesz, Sander, Avedon, Koudelka, Mc Cullin, Sudek and Boubat.
Titles ‘The growing roots 1, The growing roots 2, Uprootedness 1, Uprootedness 2 and The needs of the human soul’ are used to introduce Weil’s quotes amongst the photographs.
‘The future brings us nothing; it is we who in order to build it have to give it everything, our very life. But to be able to give, one has to possess; and we possess no other life, no other living sap, than the treasures stored up from the past and digested, assimilated and created afresh by us.’ Weil 1943