My first encounter with Catherina Cramer took place in 2017 in Düsseldorf. At that time Cramer worked together with. Nicholas Grafia on the exhibition "Sociobath" at Golden, a former project space of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. For this occasion, the two artists had invited my band Die Römischen Votzen to play a concert at the opening. Of course I gladly accepted and had the opportunity to see the exhibition on site.
"Sociobath" included an installation, paintings and a performance of the same name, which used the exhibition as a stage set.
used. After the usual vernissage hubbub was quieted by the change of the white cube lighting to purple
LED light, the artists and hosts began their performance.
It was about a utopian vision of the future in which people no longer live in apartments but in bathrooms.
but in bathrooms. Philosophical dialogues and bath-like procedures followed, which were performed in the futuristic-looking thermal bath by the two artists.
thermal bath conducted by the two artists. At one point of the performance Catherina reared up,
self-confidently, like a convinced scientist, reared up in front of the audience and announced, as if it were the most important
question of the bathing universe: "The modern bather of today no longer wants to take a shower, but would like to know: what is the shower?
like to know: what is the shower? What's in the shower?" The answer was not long in coming and crawled
busily in the form of a powerful and armor-like insect, through the loosening of the drainage grate to the light. It was
Catherina took it carefully in her hands and proudly presented it to the audience: "This, my dear bathers, is the Madagascar
the Madagascar cockroach! Look!" After the audience, fascinated and averse at the same time, was allowed to examine the insect in
the insect in turn, they were able to witness an operation in which the cockroach was transplanted with a chip.
the cockroach was transplanted a chip.
I am always amazed at the reception of Catherina's work, whether it is the performance described "Sociobath" or in her videographic works, how much they capture my attention from beginning to end. The humorous and entertaining character of her performances, the detailed stage sets, which are captured by high quality the creation of spaces that exist only in fiction, all this contributes to the desire to be present at the plays with all senses. This effect is additionally that the videos presented in the exhibition context do not content themselves with a cool and distanced projection or a museum television. or a museum television set, but rather bring the activity and the aesthetics of television to the foreground. and exposed, almost considered as art itself. The audience has the opportunity to take a seat in a staged television room and become part of the repeated ambience in the video shown. At the same time, the deciphering of the plot, through the constant change of action and the thus changing moods and leitmotifs. Although themes such as visions of the future, self-dramatization, gender roles as well as questions concerning biopolitics are addressed, they do not stand individually in the foreground. Rather, the themes work through the individual characters or the moods and sets that Catherina creates, creating a space for multiple interpretations. A sense of pleasurable discomfort is created, coupled with the apprehension that what is seen and told, though so surreal, reminiscent of underground and parallel universes, nevertheless directly affects the viewer. In the video A Boxed Rebellion, a claustrophobically furnished container invites viewers to enter and witness the action in the exposed video. In it, a gigantic container warehouse appears. Behind the metal walls, however, there are no pieces of furniture or objects, but people working in small groups. The meaning of these activities is not clearly discernible. In one of the rooms a of three people is reminiscent of a play date among friends, except that a valium-like lethargy hovers in the room and a placenta lies on an artificial grass pedestal in the middle of the room. The generated mood raises questions about influence, knowledge and awareness for our own body, which is supposedly our property, but for which it is never clear how much power we really have over it, and how to prevent it from being exploited. but it is never clear how much power we really have over it, and how to prevent it from being exploited. from being exploited.
Although Catherina likes to take on multiple roles in the production of her videos, from performing, writing the script, designing sets, building the set, to editing and post-production, she values the collaboration and cooperative aspect of film shoots. "In the art world, individual artists stand alone and are are constantly exposed to the idea of competition - even among artist friends. In film, it can be avoided through can be avoided by working together, because simply nothing works alone; you have to cooperate. A great advantage of this is also, that your own artistic practice and perspective is broadened, which is valuable and important," Cramer says. Her latest work Unleash the Beast was also created in collaboration with artist Giulietta Ockenfuß. In this one Elaine Morgan's 'water monkey hypothesis' in focus. During a three-month stay in Mexico, various figures were developed. different figures were developed, which are all connected by the element water. The artists have the country and produced film material that deals with water as a resource and the question of man's the origins of mankind. Spontaneous interviews, documentary elements, and fictional narratives blend advanced art film, which, after the journey, will be collaged in the form of a series of several parts and gradually released.
In the future we can look forward to more work from Catherina, such as Uncanny Island, a film inspired by the failed Project Biosphere 2, which will be produced over a long period of work. Cramer also wants to move more outside the "art bubble" and make an impact in public space with her work. She thinks of someone like Christoph Schlingensief and his impact beyond the boundaries of art. Maybe there needs to be a Schlingensief - a female one!
Text: Sonja Yakovleva
The catalog for the exhibition can be purchased via KVTV store.