Philipp von Rosen

Sarah Ortmeyer

28 Mar - 09 May 2009

© Sarah Ortmeyer
March 28 - May 9, 2009
Figge von Rosen Galerie, Cologne
Installaton shot

Opening on March 27, 2009 at 7.00 pm
Exhibition from March 28 to May 9, 2009

Figge von Rosen is proud to announce its second exhibition dedicated to Sarah Ortmeyer (born 1980).

Demolished clogs, unproven legends, and lovers who even might not have known each other. Sarah Ortmeyer deconstructs things that – at first sight – do not necessarily belong together and discovers, thereby, unexpected structures. The artist’s method resembles Claude Levi-Strauss' Bricolage, a concept developed in his The Savage Mind (1962), that describes the human need to construct new myths out of signs, meanings, and stories that are at hand.

The installation SABOTAGE (2009) consists of chopped clogs that cover the ground. The word "Sabotage" is presumably derived from the French sabot (= clog) and came into being in relation to the uprising of French farm-workers who, in order to fight against the mechanization of their work, threw their sabots in the threshers. More important than the reliability of this etymology is the issue of the possibility of revolt. Particularly nowadays, when the enemy is difficult to detect and agricultural engines are transferred into invisible information- and financial systems.

The clenched fist, a universal sign for opposition, connects the four historically, ideologically, and typologically seemingly unrelated snap-shots of US-American history in FAUST (2009). What has Lee Harvey Oswald's – the Kennedy murderer – clenched fist to do with the demonstration of partnership by Michelle and Barack Obama? And does the proud gesture of the raised fist, demonstrated by Tommie Smith during the Olympic games in 1968, relate to George W. Bush? The unsettling and - at the same time – encouraging work demonstrates the arbitrariness of images as well as their irresistible power to create new myths. The images are printed on matchboxes amidst the whole load of wood that covers the gallery.

OKKUPATION KOLLOBORATION RÉSISTANCE (2008) deals with the Vichy-Regime and the Eiffel tower in Paris as ambiguous symbols. On the one hand, this work is built on the legend of members of the French Résistance who are said to have sabotaged in 1940 the elevator to the towers viewing platform so that Hitler had to walk up all flights when he visited. On the other hand, the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann provocatively explained that he understood the integrity of Paris (and thus the Eiffel tower) as a demonstration of gratitude of the Germans owed to the two thirds of collaborators of the French population. Accordingly, Ortmeyers sculpture does not reveal whether the miniature Eiffel tower is in danger of toppling off the table or whether it is fixed on the tablecloth.

The topic of LA LOVE (2008) is the myth of assumed love. With images that are taken from an archive of postcards, magazines, covers of albums, stamps, or found photos, Ortmeyer constructs loving couples that probably never have existed in these constellations. An insert that shows footnotes to Ortmeyer's collection of lovers that include diverse personalities like Chess-champion Bobby Fischer, Yoko Ono, the writer Thomas Bernhard, and the singer Nico is bound into an issue of the people magazine GALA, one of the foremost organs of the creation of myths. The work confronts the real and the unreal with the possible and dwells on the question how history could have developed differently. Ortmeyer shifts the weight from large political and theoretical gestures towards the most intimate experiences of the individual.

The term Bricolage is often used in a postmodern practice of art, a practice that renounces any form of representation and meaning by sampling and by arbitrarily combining signs. Ortmeyer's works, though, are far away from any allusion to postmodern irony and arbitrariness. On the contrary, the works are sincerely dedicated to the large questions of love, freedom, and resistance without stepping into the many traps of the cliché.

Tags: Yoko Ono, Sarah Ortmeyer