Chloe Piene in Barbara Thumm Gallery in Berlin
Piene questions Body As a Substance And Not an Identity
Let me introduce you another artist, Chloe Piene, whose fascinating choice of material creates very intriguing works of Contemporary Art. Piene uses synthetic vellum but the true nature of the material has more than questionable origins by today's standards. The original vellum is actually made of baby animal skin such as calf and the highest quality vellum came from stillborn baby animals. The dark nature of the original vellum is transformed into Piene´s subject matter and criticism. The most appealing part of her artwork is a pure interest in herself as a human being. Piene does not only accommodate her body as drawing material but she also draws her anxiety, dreams and likes. Piene is very much engrossed in what lies beneath the surface of her physical body, which corresponds to her concision or unconscious choice of vellun as the material. Her typical medium is a charcoal and paper or vellum. A solid base of her drawings involves a skeletal disposition of human body.
As I see it all her interests crystallized in the installation Chloe, 2017 at Barbara Thumm Gallery Berlin. A part of the art installation was Piene´s performance Surgery, 2016. The focus of this performance delves in a therapeutic technique called Family Constellation. Based on my previous experience I know that this technique helps people to better understand their childhood memories and in Piene´s case it is used as a vehicle to address a role of individual within a certain social circle. The installation took a place in the white cube gallery space and it consisted of two fixed standing figures wrapped in an enormous black fabric looking like two figures in cloaks. The third figure, which actually was not a figure but a biker's helmet with a device inside playing on a loop audio the performance Surgery, 2016, was placed on a stool evocking impression of a huddled child. By allowing free access to the helmet, the artist encouraged every visitor to put on the helmet and listened to the private affairs of her childhood. From my point view this act enabled every visitor to feel like a member of Piene´s family. Based on the composition of the installation, where two main figures facing their back to the third one, the viewer gained a strong feeling of rejection. Black and white as a choice of colors actually amplified the power of rejection. The black pool of velvet spoke of family ties regardless of how estranged they were but still there was a connection between family members that is exclusive to the rest of the society, white cube gallery space.
To draw a conclusion based on my previous articles, Piene´s artwork is focused on current issues in regards to family ties. Piene did not generalize the issue but instead she cut deep in to her own experience and presented it to the public. Moreover the presentation was not passive but the viewer was encouraged to try on Piene´s shoes by wearing the helmet, listing to the therapy and experiencing the expelled position within the family circle.