by Vatsala SethiDec 31, 2022
The world exists in a state of flux yet the human mind often tends to perceive it through the veneer of synthetic imaginaries. The modernist assertion of categorical differences, ranging from the geopolitical to the biological, envelops contemporary experience with a seemingly atavistic violence that is ironically intrinsic to the here and now as it is vestigial. The pervasiveness of such delineating narratives is bulwarked by the discursive strength of the rising nationalisms of the 21st century. At the face of such culturally embedded oppositions, it is refreshing when attempts at dispelling notions of otherness subtly take the form of aesthetic intervention that hints towards this ideal rather than instruct.
Push Borders, Regine Schumann’s immersive exhibition at Galería Rafael Pérez Hernando in Spain, may be understood as one such exploration. With her third exhibition at the Madrid-based gallery, the acclaimed German light artist brings in her learnings from her artist’s scholarship at the El Nucleo Foundation in Sergovia in the autumn of 2019, where she experimented with elements that “enable new experiences with the ‘colour space’ and the room temperature”. In the wake of these formal discoveries, Push Borders comprises artworks, mostly framed against the gallery’s wall though the eponymous installation travels between rooms, that transforms in colour and luminosity when subjected to different physical conditions.
Schumann is a master of manipulating the aesthetics of light and colour to invoke in her viewership a profound sense of unity. At Galería Rafael Pérez Hernando, her artworks merge effortlessly with each other with their spheres of influence becoming constantly layered against each other. The (subjective) lifeworld of each art object being enmeshed with those of its neighbours may be comparable to the relationships between different entities in nature, culture and any other epistemic paradigms. In the midst of these transient experiences, the audience too becomes part of the art as they navigate through her installation site and become infused with its evocative aura.
“The newly formulated and defined boundaries of inside and outside of the individual works positioned in the space, and their simultaneous dissolution and colour shifts - both accentuated by the different lighting with daylight, artificial or black light - redefine the works, the surrounding space and even the visitor, who perceives and feels the work in space, and even himself in a new way. In my work, physical phenomena such as light, darkness, shadows, colour breaks and colour shifts serve to expand one's own perception,” mentions Schumann. In this process, temporal, spatial and aesthetic boundaries are all simultaneously breached consciously against any threat of definition.
Though Push Borders appears to be a formal exploration of the effects of the divergent pairings of Schumann’s luminescent artworks within the space of the gallery, it is allegorically indicative of certain political perceptions and realities. According to the artist, for whom these engagements instilled an openness to revising her own worldview, “in addition to the dissolution of the boundaries at the level of sensual perception, which have always been and still are part of my work, the installation Push Borders naturally alludes to a political dimension: the shifting of boundaries and exclusions, in our minds as well as on political and geographical maps, which I believe is necessary”.
Reflecting on the impact this exhibition might have on her practice at large, the artist says, “new elements, new materials and perhaps also more socio-political accents occupy me more and more since this exhibition, and will certainly find new space in my artistic work in the future. I myself am very curious to see how these experiences will develop, how they will change me, my thoughts and concepts and finally my work. In view of the current paralysing time, which also sets limits for our own protection, it is all the more important to question the limits, to constantly redefine them, to break old habits and allow new formulations”.
The exhibition concluded on July 24, 2020. Click here for the virtual tour.