Rosa Rendl -- Kartell

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Rosa Rendl
Kartell
08/03/2019 - 13/04/2019

Opening: 07/03/2019, 18:00 - 21:00 Uhr 

The Lonely Boys (Daphne Ahlers & Rosa Rendl) often address an absent counterpart in their deeply
melancholic songs. It is a fantasizing, haunting, imploring that calls out from an inner space. Alone.
In the world. In Surrender1, for example, with lines like “stuck in this moment forever” and “I will stay
awake until I don’t miss you”. Particularly in Surrender, the melancholy figure is stretched so thin and
siphoned through electronic stylistic devices into an atmospheric vortex, that it yields a lament song
of the kind not seen in the recent decades of pop history. The emotions are expressed with such
intense immediacy that it raises the question of at what point too much authenticity becomes a
concept. In Cry too much2 we hear the line “In a world unknown to us, they say we cry too much” -
a statement clearly depicting alienation, separation, but also a commitment to the expression of
feelings, indeed to rather an excess of feelings. The inevitable assumption here too is that the
position spoken from is decidedly feminine. If we conclude that the dimensions of the affective
expand until it seems like a conceptual focal point, then the feminine position also becomes political,
since feelings are always interwoven with our assumptions of the world. Emotions, as melancholy,
become a method precisely because they challenge reality. Nevertheless, they remain indeterminate
and in this sense, free of irony. By understanding how authenticity in the form of emotions is
articulated in the work, a corresponding experience of otherness can occur, from which one can
speak to others.

Against this background, and so far only touching on one of the artist’s many projects - Rosa Rendl
has a solo musical practice alongside Lonely Boys and runs a swimwear label bearing her own
name - conclusions and parallels can be drawn with her photographic work. The music is, so to
speak, the entrance. In fact, to all the aforementioned activities.

First and foremost, all the photographs were shot in the artist’s apartment and exclusively depict
objects in the artist’s possession that are in almost daily use. Another detail is that most of the
photographs were shot on analog film - some of the smaller, collaged photos were taken with a
digital camera and/or mobile phone. The technique is self-acknowledged as unimportant for the
conceptual basis of the photographs. Of more importance is the choice of paper and print stock,
hand-printed on extremely matte, almost poster-like paper. The prints hang loose in their frames.

All but one are photo collages comprising at least two photographs and thus set in direct
conversation with one other. Transparent bathroom scales with a mop, for instance, collaged with
two images of Rendl’s keyboard keys (Bomann, 2019); a table that might function equally for
working or dining, bearing a still life of withered flowers, protective frame casing, piles of paper, and
myriad other everyday tools confronted with the image of a dressmakers dummy wearing a blue
skirt from her collection (Table Still Life, 2019). Confronting is not quite the right word here, the
gesture might best be described as summating. Particularly the still lifes as well as the combinations
of photographs, in their immediacy, relate to Wolfgang Tillman’s earlier works. Like in his work,
subcultures and collaborations visually resonate through this relationship, but they appear a lot
tighter and more factual in Rendl’s work. By depicting her immediate surroundings, framed as
though she were looking around in a quiet moment, a kind of melancholic, almost empty gaze
emerges. Although they speak of all that is productive, inspired, and collaborative, the objects and
situations remain strangely dull in their visual expression and outrightly deny their significance. The
meaning they acquire has to batter down against the vagueness of the aesthetic object. Subjectivity
is represented here as emptiness, as a potentiality.3 Nevertheless, the artist is well aware that if she
inscribes herself and her history into her work, she only re-produces what she already provided at
the outset. Thus, some of the works also convey her history, such as the eponymous work Kartell
(2019), which depicts a designer cocktail set inherited from her grandparents which she has to this
day refrained from using. The set, in part, symbolises her family history in which productivity and
design played a major role, and also the subsequent loss of this, as well as her own engagement in
this field (Cocktail Set, 2019). This aspect finds its way into the exhibited works in several variations.
This unexpected, psychoanalytically charged aspect sits alongside objects of less historical
relevance that relate more to the artist’s productivity and spirit. In the images themselves, all things
are negotiated equally, all excessively soberly. Which raises the question of what specifically Rendl is
really bringing to the table here, based on the mediated nature of her work. I think it’s an awareness
of being able to inscribe herself into preexisting visual languages and the diverse demands on the
artist-subject, and to use this knowledge prudently, only as is necessary. It’s an okayness with one’s
own productivity, which stems from decidedly emotionally motivated activities.

This brings up a kind of kinship to Josephine Pryde’s work, who says: “That kind of blithe,
ingenuous positivity and way of moving forward, that critique-free zone, becomes interesting. Why
though? Is it just the chance to be happy and unafraid? Rather than trying to say art is very good
and clever and can achieve its critique, the fascination with fashion modes is about not achieving
that critique—it’s about not achieving the object of the criticism in an obvious way. On the other
hand, to put it more simply, all this fantastic image stuff and style and the consumer world can leave
me very confused and over-excited, and making my own photographs is quite a good way for me to
try to stay calm.”4 In this sense, Rosa Rendl’s photographs convey a very calm, conscious and
particular manner of investment in methods and concepts, tagging themselves and others with an
“okay”. The super-personal thus becomes accessible. The method applied here is very similar to
how Lonely Boys operates, just the flip side of the melancholy coin, so to speak. The Lonely Boys
make the exaggerated, almost obsessive focus on emotions productive, whereas it is rather the
sobriety of the inspired factual in her photography, an almost talking-about-nothing-ness - “stuck in
this moment forever” - that sets things in motion for Rendl.