What to think of a contemporary art exhibition that is surely photogenic but also provokes the simple question: “what the heck are you trying to say?” Judith Hopf’s exhibition Stepping Stairs opened last week at Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin and made me wonder if it is possible to make sense of the works. The media ranges from film to sculpture and are seemingly confronting its audience with the “faceless creations of modern life by taking a closer look at the objects that so elegantly shape our daily routine.”
The intention to do so is visible in the first part of the exhibition in which one could see a contemporary statue called Untitled (Laptop Men). Instead of a general on a horse or a reclined nude, one can see an abstract (very abstract) figure with a laptop. So this is pretty conceivable and also very much pleasing the eye.
Another installation is called Untitled (Email Lines) in which three strings with purple, blue and white LED lights are hanging from the ceiling. It refers to the “endless” online conversations that one carries around on devices. To be honest, although there are plenty little lights on those three strings, it doesn’t look like it’s never-ending. It is again, pretty, but it feels forced to give this meaning to those strings. Of course, the artist has the liberty to make this as a metaphor, it just doesn’t convince me.
The next artwork is Lily’s Laptop a pretty funny moving image in which one can see Lily flooding a home because she trying to check if her laptop can swim. Slowly but surely, an expensive looking home is filling up with water until all belongings are floating around and washed away. This is an artwork that lends for interpretation. What to do, what is just, what is crazy, what is logical?
Furthermore, there are some sculptures made from bricks representing daily objects. It’s a counterpart of the Minimalistic sculptures of the 60’s. The minimalists occupied themselves with making completely abstract sculptures, trying not to mimic anything human that is cheaply produced and easily distributed. Hopf’s sculptures are not abstract at all, easily recognized, laborious to make and difficult to distribute. I have to force myself to form an opinion about it, but I can’t because I don’t find it interesting.
In the same room, she created two small cinemas one can step into by crawling underneath a floating tent. A cool and intimate concept, but I have absolutely and surely no idea what those movies were trying to say.
The incapability to make anything out of it was kind of frustrating. I am – by all means – not someone who says that art should be straightforward, fixed and clear but this was too open-ended. It needed some boundaries. I need some boundaries.
The exhibition is on view until March 11th, 2018 at Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.