“RAW” at Kunst im Tunnel

A cacophonous, factory-floor soundscape rattling across the stark, concrete walls of Kunst im Tunnel is the point of entry into “RAW.” As the title suggests, the exhibition’s five artists take deconstructed approaches to photographic media, beginning with Johannes Raimann’s Sharpener (all works cited, 2023), a looped seven-minute video in which repetitive shots of a spreadsheet, a Battleship grid, a phone book, and a black-and-white test pattern slowly pan across the screen. Backed by Florian Siebenhaar’s industrial acoustic environment, a dialogue unfolds between analog and digital technologies in which the camera both captures and flattens real-time information.

Around the corner, Ulrike Kazmaier’s work similarly abstracts visual information through techniques of lossy compression. CMYK blows up a single detail of a Dürer print, and her sculpture Possibly Maybe (Ultramarine) unfurls in a fleshy archipelago of “glitches” across the wall, both revealing metadata of seemingly preexisting figurative forms. Dylan Maquet’s pair of monumental Tired Paintings—sheer fabrics stretched over steel frames gently drooping toward the wall—feature a collage of out-of-focus iPhone snapshots digitally printed onto mesh textiles. Here and in Sabrina Podemski’s prismatic sculpture series “Vertigo,” the “screen” takes on multiple connotations, a blank canvas or a black mirror holding an immaterial archive.

Moritz Riesenbeck’s installation Auflösung (translated as “dissolution” or “clearance”) places the viewer in a different time and place—a fragment of a room furnished with a bare foldout bed and a 1970s built-in wardrobe purchased from a Rhineland estate sale. A nearby audio recording and chapbook narrate vignettes from a person’s life, the inexactitudes of which allude to the psychological effects of dementia, suggesting how memories might be embedded in an object, like a photograph, albeit imperfectly.

Together, the works in “RAW,” coupled with the bunker-like atmosphere of Kunst im Tunnel, constitute a coolly apocalyptic vision of technological obsolescence inflected by a hopeful reimagining of the indexical. These artists’ subtle interventions speak to what’s lost within modes of digital overproduction through latent images of the bodily. In an era of hypervisuality and seamless simulacra, it seems apt to return to photography through its constituent parts.

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