Martin Janda Gallery, Vienna: Masquerades



Opening: Tuesday, 18. November 2014, 7 pm

Galerie Martin Janda is pleased to announce Masquerades, Jakob Kolding’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will run from 19th of November 2014 to 10th of January 2015. As the title suggests, the exhibition examines different takes on masks and the connected acts of gesturing, performing and staging—acts that indicate different possible identities, as well as psychological, social and political implications.

Taking masquerades as a starting point, the works playfully combine a wide range of influences. From renaissance sculptures to surrealism, psychoanalysis and dream interpretation to modernist theatre, dioramas and classic literature to hip hop culture and pop music, post-structuralist identity theory and back again to pre-modern myths and fables. In the process, a world of constantly shifting, changing and overlapping positions is constructed.

Often using only a few elements—in some works just one or two—a wide range of possible meanings are opened up. What at first hand might look like a symbol with a certain significance gradually turns to suggest multiple readings, oscillating between different positions and seeming contradictions, creating an ambivalent state of radical openness that is, at the same time, liberating as well as frightening—a state of existential drama that is loaded with a dream-like ambiguity.

Central to the exhibition is a large installation composed of individual sculptures of life-sized figures made from prints on wood cutouts. A landscape of people, trees and animals create a scenography that lies somewhere in between theatre scene design, 19th century dioramas and amusement parks. As the spectator walks among the figures, the basic stage prop construction becomes obvious. It’s a scene that can be entered, but which at the same time shows its own one-sidedness. It invites the spectator to become a part of it, while simultaneously introducing considerations on its very construction, making evident the slippery slope between the real and the imaginary. Or indeed, between the “real” and the performed. Among the figures some are dressed up in costumes and others wearing masks or hiding their faces in other ways. This becomes both a stage performance and a performance of identity. Identities that are defined individually as well as collectively as they interact with each other, as well as the added layer of the spectators as they enter the installation and become a part of it. In this manner, one of the works even leaves the part of the body most commonly used for personal identifications, the head, empty, just as those found in old amusement parks where you could stick your head through a hole to be photographed as a different person or in a different landscape.

The theme of masquerades shows itself perhaps even more directly in the two groups of collages. In one group, the individual works focus specifically on the idea of masks, incorporating various ways of masking, covering or being covered, hiding or being hidden, to challenge, change or construct an identity, or maybe all three at once. In the other group of collages, the stage plays a larger role, creating a series of dramatic settings. Works that are literally making a scene.

A new artist book by Jakob Kolding will be presented for the first time on the occasion of the exhibition Masquerades. The book, entitled The Hat, is the first of two books by Kolding made with the Barcelona artist book publisher Cru.

Jakob Kolding was born in 1971 in Albertslund (DK), and lives and works in Berlin.

Guided Gallery Tour with Hemma Schmutz through the galleries in Eschenbachgasse (Martin Janda, Krobath, Meyer Kainer, Mezzanin, Steinek) in the context of the VIENNA ART WEEK 2014: Thursday, November 20, 5 pm. Starting at Galerie Martin Janda, Eschenbachgasse 11, 1010 Vienna

Photo: Jakob Kolding, The Raven, 2014

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