A “sticky note” or Post-it™ is an adhesive note used not only in the office, but also, in a simulated version, on computers and smartphones. In Anna Virnich’s usage, a subliminal undertone mingles with the apparently dry office jargon, betraying the familiar term’s hidden obsessive structures by which we are unconsciously occupied: they are “sticky” structures.
Anna Virnich has developed a new series of objects for Galerie Nathalie Halgand. On the one hand, they are influenced by various impressions of Vienna; on the other hand, they are the product of a long-term engagement with spatial forms of expression. The materials she uses for her sculptural works and spatial arrangements are not apparently beholden to any prearranged principle: wax, oil, leather and silver span a broad spectrum, but are reined in by their palpable physicality. Animal materials, like leather or wax, induce intense experiences that are further intensified by powerful scents and perfumes.
If “Sticky Note” is dissected into its constituent parts, a subcutaneous meaning also becomes apparent: “sticky” can also mean humid or lubricious, transforming this supposed reminder note into fertile ground for sexual obsessions. Like the memory of a former lover whose scent has not yet departed from an article of clothing, or like other scented keepsakes one would really rather forget and let go of–Virnich recalls the fetish character of objects and their phantasmagorically charged presence.
The artist has used naturally coloured calfskin to wall off the largest space in the gallery from its adjacent room, and in this way create a spatially closed situation. The handheld objects displayed here in black leather gloves correspond to the works in the adjoining room: wax elements on the floor and handles that evoke the support straps in Viennese commuter trains relate the discourse of a vegetal, natural, and pseudo natural order, and its transfer to the 21st century.
Above all this float the sounds from ASMR fetish videos like those found on Youtube, which usually depict stereotypical scenes in which somebody spends several minutes creating crackling sounds by brushing their hair or scratching their body or clearing their throat. These “abject” sounds further heighten the objects’ fetish character, capable as they are of inducing disgust and aversion.
The exhibition is an artificial synaesthetic ensemble, and its ambivalence is produced by the way the various materials interact with the sound to suggest an ethereal naturalness even as they produce in their viewers a nervous, physically palpable tension and overstimulation. In their powerfully haptic effect, Virnich’s charged objects maintain their connection to archaic bodily experience. Against the narratives of “bodily esotericism” with which economic and political apparatuses attempt to control us, her objects remain literally grounded. This is precisely why they emanate a conflicted aura, itself a legacy of our anthropological rootedness in ritual.
Text: Patricia Grzonka
Anna Virnich (*1984, Berlin) lives and works in Berlin. She gratuated in 2013 from HfBK Braunschweig in the masterclass of Walter Dahn.
Recent and solo and two artists exhibitions include tba, DREI, Cologne (November); Nervous Moments Membranes, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2016); Body Electric, DREI, Cologne (2015); Ich bleibe sicher nicht für immer hier im Schreib- und Geisterzimmer (with Özlem Sakalsiz), Kunstverein Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen, DE (2014); Gymnastik, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, DE (2013). The artist recently contributed to group exhibitions at Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2017); Galleria Mario Ianelli, Rome; Sexauer Gallery, Berlin (both 2016); Valentin, Paris; DREI, Cologne; Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Berlin (all 2015); Schmela Haus, Düsseldorf; Florence Loewy, Paris (both 2014); Galerie Sprüth Magers, Berlin (2013) a.o..
Solo exhibitions will be on view as part of Art-O-Rama between August 25 and September 10, 2017 at Friche la Belle de Mai in Marseille and at DREI, Cologne, in November 2017. A group exhibition including a contribution by Anna Virnich will be on view between Mai 18 and July 9 at the Centre d’Art Contemporaine Chanot in Clamart, France.
Anna Virnich’s artistic practice incorporates a variety of media, such as sculpture, installation, photography, video and textile-based tableaus made of found fabrics as well as new materials, stretched on wooden frames thus creating organic and almost painterly compositions that oscilate between transparency and density. While working with different textiles and its textures Virnich emphazises on their existing traces of use – weather stains, dirt marks, human sweat – but also adds her own manipulations such as holes, flaws, seams and fragrances. The aspect of the bodily and physical is crucial, as is the element of fetish. The constant flux in the working process between adding and withdrawing, disclosing and concealing reveals itself in Virnich’s tableaus.