Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek

31 Jan - 14 Mar 2009

Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek
"Dustscape", 2009, unique slide filled with basalt dust, slide projector, projection size variable, archival material in vitrine, book with letters 20 x 29 x 2,5 cm, vitrine 107 x 40 x 40 cm
31.01. – 14.03.2009

An X-ray satellite conducting astronomical observation in the dark expanse of outer space has confirmed that 99 percent of the universe is invisible and that 90 percent of this area consists of particles that have never before been seen on earth. This leaves a multitude of questions unanswered, a great many secrets undisclosed and numerous possibilities open.

In the exhibition Der Mondbericht (The Moon Report), Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek takes on a search for the invisible. Drawing upon her family’s scientific lineage, she researches and classifies the world in her very own manner. The starting point for this exhibition was a scientific study written by the artist’s grandfather, Karl Georg Schmidt, entitled Der Mondbericht, which was published in 1949. This book focused on the relation between continental drift and the formation of the moon. For quite some time a revolution had been occurring at the microscopic level. Miniscule bits smaller than the naked eye could see were discovered with the help of refined instruments and theories, opening up new worlds of unbelievable dimensions to human perception. With the aid of micro and macro-optics in photography, the landscape of the invisible greatly expanded.

In the work of Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek, too, the moon becomes an experimental plane. These pieces are based on light, dust, darkness, knowledge and the possibilities of their representation. The artist examines the relationship between photography and drawing, two artistic techniques which have played a significant representational role in the field of the natural sciences. In the piece Firsoff: Stage III, Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek plays on Swedish physicist V.A. Firsoff’s cartographic studies of the moon. As an amateur scientist, Firsoff created the so-called Moon Atlas in 1961, which deliberately employed the medium of drawing as opposed to photography as means to depict the landscapes of the moon’s surface. In the form of a large series of photograms, Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek refashions this primary source using sand and salt, creating landscapes which become, in turn, unique photographs. Another work uses the lens and light of a slide projector to enlarge basalt dust, a material used by NASA as an imitation of moon dust. The mystical, abstract image cast onto the wall likens a moon landscape.

The entryway to the gallery forms a cabinet of moon legends and curiosities: a tile containing a chip ostensibly smuggled to the moon, in which are embedded works by artists such as Rauschenberg and Oldenburg. A glass engraving which cites Man Ray’s Dust Breeding, a photograph depicting a detail of Duchamp’s Large Glass after it had been left to gather dust for one year. In addition to this: photobooth pictures in which Fred Whipple’s images of moon crescents are playfully recombined. In a small series of work, the artist ties the Mare Orientale– a partially visible, partially invisible area of the moon– to the pineal gland, the area in the human brain responsible for the rhythm of day/night and light/dark, which Descartes designated as the seat of the soul.
Thus Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek creates a web of anecdotes and free associations that play upon factual knowledge and open a view onto the surface of the moon which is no longer scientifically verifiable.

Tags: Man Ray