No Comfort Zone
by Tenzing Barshee
For her exhibition at Vin Vin, Astrid Wagner arranges three distinct elements: a conglomerate of carpets, two ceramic barrels, and a body of sound.
She’s not showing off any one of these elements. But rather cools everything down to a degree that seems feasible for each one to interact with one another, without hiding or exposing any effort that was necessary, and some effort is always necessary. What she does is laid out as bare as it comes and it is, yes, manifold. She goes like that, winks, and she assembles multiple juxtapositions, marries them to divorce and continue, overlays and pairs, aligns what contradicts, merges, dances, and she confronts. She does all that and she sets up that binary trap.
When you cross a street and someone honks at you, then this sound has a disturbing quality. How does it leave you to be the disturbed one? I suppose this is what is being mined here: disruptive qualities. Sometimes you can’t choose your neighbours. But don’t we say hi and smile or who’s the boogeyman? To make something out as disruptive, we first need to establish harmony, or an illusion of such a weird concept like harmony.
Let’s backtrack, the carpets are stacked on top of each other and it is the kind of carpet that many born in the eighties remember lying around in their middle-class apartments, the kind that requires almost no skill to make, but she dunked them in black ink, blacked them out. This could be a metaphor for memory loss, which, in a present so intensely convoluted as ours, might be something to heartily desire. Do we even speak about desire?
The binary trap: We don’t call it a conversation, especially when one sits higher than the others, but I suppose, it’s a dynamic between the two, barking and singing a whole range of sound: flutes, horns, winds … that warm air, blown and whistled, teeth grinding on chips and pickles, a beautiful bird that imitates noises to make them his own original voice, more chatter, stirring and bar noise, pretending there’s actually something going on next door, o neighbour, who are you? A falling tree, this silence, and a synthetic voice generator that mimics a human being, it’s all pretty and available, it’s caged. Did you hear that mad woman? Chortling drips and drops.
In dramatic terms, this is definitely a comedy of errors. From time to time, it gets so beautiful that something has to happen and then something dumb happens—e.g. a police siren, screaming in isolation: this is not a comfort zone.