KATJA LOHER AND THE HARMONY OF THE SPHERES
BY: JOAQUIN BADAJO
Katja Loher on the Harmony of the Stratospheres
These videosculptures and projections by the multimedia artist create a virtual jungle where art, technology and spirituality merge to create a new terrestrial ground.
The visitor arrives to a banquette of light, but for those who cannot attend, we can imagine the opulent magic. The fabulous universe which Katja Loher (Zurich, 1979) envisioned with a performance at the Opening Reception of VUELA VUELA, her multimedia exhibition at C24 Gallery in Chelsea. She has returned to her hand blown glass bubbles, which entrap once again with kinetic movements of miniature beings inside ultra modern acrylic cells.
The surrealist creatures by the artist return to those portal universes, which are reminiscent of small planets. Katja Loher does not conform to create just paintings, but produces art containing universes. In these worlds she is a demiurge designing chaos while dictating order and rhythm. Part of the experience for those who visit this exhibition, it can be said with complete certainty that it is spectacular with the experience submersing the viewer leaving one hypnotized.
Each piece by the artist is a super production including experimental audiovisual, costume design and choreography. Even the concept and production of artifacts containing the videos could be a tree salvaged from a storm or a semi-hemispheric screen. The meticulous filming created in a special green screen studio replaces the background in post production editing the images with a flip of the script.
Reflecting back on some of her artworks, the aesthetic remains impregnated in the brain between vintage and folk art. Loher is an heiress to the rhythmic ballet of the triadic dance of Oskar Schlemmer. Oompa Loompas trapped in a bottle remind one of Life in the Undergrowth by Sir David Attenborough or a show from the 1960’s of psychadelic lights. Dancers mimic the elasticity and rythm of cimatic impact. All the elements mix in perfect proportions to achieve a dramatic minimalistic effect.
Just as Shigeko Kubota, Loher is much more interested in merging technology inside the sculpture so that it disappears. By calling them videosculptures she opposes many others who only achieve multimedia installations. Loher goes further than Kubota by pushing the limits of traditional formats and unmasking technology to reveal the impossible make it natural. When confronted with the inherit constricted essence of technology, Loher elects a sphere, bends the space and produces portals that are three dimensional, spherical or semi-spherical. She innovates and obliges the video to liberate itself from a formal obstacle. She accomplishes all this without abandoning a masterful level or exceptional lyric.
While Loher strips technology of the flat screen (a two-dimensional format) her videos leave the artist’s hand present. This is evident in the insects, birds and creatures which scan the camera with their human profile, creating a transfer of roles to an empathetic observer. Her aesthetic also emphasizes a time when one perceived of a world of mystical fantasy.
In the kaleidoscopic universe of Katja Loher, life exists through the rambunctious multidimensional eye of a fly. We draw closer into peepholes or videoportals to other worlds only to discover that voyeurism is in reverse. We are the creatures trapped in our own existential bubbles spied by millions of creatures that create a mosaic effect of fragmented universes.
VUELA VUELA is a vital celebration into the window of nature’s four elements and also a call of cosmic healing. The most surprising construct of her artwork is that while other artists with ecological preoccupations are inclined to exaggerate to the side of apocolyptic, barrenness, mutulation or dissolute, Loher produces new spieces that balance the systemic extinction. Cast into space are extravagant diminuative armies of bees and birds that gaurentee the balance of the ecosystem. Loher confronts this with the beauty of fantastic alternative universes.
Simultaneously with the exhibition at C24 Gallery, Katja Loher inaugurated an installation at the new SLS Brickel Hotel in Miami, Florida. This video installation When Will the Sea Swallow the Land? is based on the imminent effects of global warming on sea levels and the prognostic that costal cities like Miami and New York are condemned to disappear. The piece is placed at the main entrance of the building and encompasses six video-islands as portals to mini universes that Katja Loher invites us to explore.
VUELA VUELA, Katja Loher will exhibit until December 23rd at C24 Gallery,
560 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011