Micheal Wiesehöfer

Eli Cortiňas

09 Sep - 05 Nov 2011

© Eli Cortiňas
"Dear beloved men, if fortune knocks at my door", 2011
Street Girls Bringing Sailors In Must Pay In Advance PART I + II
9 September - 5 November, 2011

PART I: Galerie Michael Wiesehöfer, Schönhauser Str. 8, 50968 Köln,
PART II: HAUS IM SÜDEN, Mauritiussteinweg 74, 50676 Köln

In the second exhibition in the Michael Wiesehöfer Gallery Eli Cortiňas is showing an installation comprised of various media and titled Street Girls Bringing Sailors In Must Pay In Advance. The central work of the exhibition is the video installation Confessions with an open curtain. This video installation, arranged as an open and continuous work is being presented by the artist in a first story (Confessions with an open curtain: First Tale) in the gallery and parallel to this, the second story (Confessions with an open curtain: Mother Tale) is being shown in the HAUS IM SÜDEN.

As in previous works, the video which is based on found-footage, deals with the construction of female identity, as well as with the portrayal of pictorial details, the interpretation of the specifics of a dramaturgic scene and the relevant film scenography. Things which within the context of film history are already “embedded” in the film material and could thus be overlooked, are brought to the forefront.

“A large part of Cortiñas’ practice revolves around the idea of challenging cinematic memory, and inventing a cinematic vocabulary anew by selecting from already existing material, painstakingly analysing scenes, stripping away narrative, and re-editing to arrive at new meanings and associations. Whether she employs existing footage or her own material, the editing process itself is of paramount importance in Cortiñas’ work. The artist approaches editing as a kind of ‘writing’, using the process not merely to re-arrange sequences and create a new cinematographic ‘choreography’ of images, but to disrupt or re-structure narrative flow, creating shifts in meaning and a kind of narrative ‘slippage’ which, on the one hand, remains true to the original material, on the other creates new shifts in emphasis and generates alternative if somewhat more fragmented narratives“ *

Paradoxically the supposed confessional referred to by the artist is described as having an open curtain, in contrast to the usual situation in the Catholic Church where its confessional booths consist of a dividing wall and a curtain.

The curtain has long been regarded as being at the beginning, an item which veils and conceals. In the baroque and bourgeois theatre of the 18th century it is accorded a particular power, which gives it an active role. Not only does it announce the play, it becomes a figure itself, with its folds, movements and shades of colour, ranging from opaque to transparent.

In Cortiňas’ work the curtain turns into the central figure with its individual sounds, sweeping size and physical characteristics. In front of it and behind it are blonde women, allowing the viewer only to look over their shoulders. Cortiňas utilizes this motif from Romanticism which permits the female figures to be made anonymous as well as be typified, seeming to merge into one. Alongside the women we gaze out of the window into the distance, into the past, into the future, celebrate the nostalgic image of the romantic idea of inner freedom and are halted by the rasping voice of a mature woman: Every woman has a career – the career of being a woman.

Cortiňas approach to the re-enactment of the longings of her mostly female heroines, who reveal their supposed confessions in a collage of sounds, and in excerpts, is accompanied by an aesthetic reflection, in the sense of an “atmospheric” perception. The pictorial-compositional and narrative excerpts which occur simultaneously provoke us into completing the ellipses in the visual and the content. Through the distance to the usual cinema experience – the linear dramaturgy is constantly interrupted both on the levels of image and sound – Cortiňas confronts the viewer with completely different versions of the individual motifs. She creates a layer of desires, most of which turn out to be unrealistic. The goal as an endless pipe-dream.

In her collages references to concealed identities, disguise of the self and obscurity as well as anonymity appear time and again. This time however, the artist is more proactive and in consequence extends the two-dimensionality of the collage by rearranging and reconstructing found objects.

At the same time, for example, the filigree beauty of the threads of expensive shopping bags become visible, when they combine with a plant pot, a discarded loudspeaker leans delicately against the wall (Anatomie des dauernd Unterschätztem I und II) and golden envelopes remind us of an awning (Es ist Frühling und J. H. ist tot), when they flutter at the slightest movement – simple opulence, which combines atmospherically with the interiors in the video work.

* Katerina Gregos, The Spectre Of Cinema: The Videos of Eli Cortiñas, Ausstellungstext, Brüssel, September 2010

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