BIG BANG (IN MINIATURE)
by Kyle Chayka | May 7, 2014
KATJA LOHER USES VIDEO PROJECTION AND UNUSUAL SURFACES TO CREATE COMPLEX INSTALLATIONS.
Swiss artist Katja Loher’s premier solo exhibition in New York City at C24 Gallery, looks like the beginning of the universe. Small circular bubbles crowd the gallery walls while larger spheres, which the artist calls planets, are suspended from the ceiling. Each planetoid contains its own tiny world in the form of a video that mixes colorful costumes with choreography and surreal digital backdrops. It’s fitting, then, that the show is called Bang Bang.
While preparing for the exhibition’s opening on May 8, Loher flitted around the gallery dressed in galaxy-print tights and a ribbed, reflective dress that would not have been out of
a place on a space ship. The title of the show “expresses excitement,” she says. “It’s also the beginning of something that will keep going”.
Loher calls her work ‘video-sculptures’, describing the physicality of video screens enclosed in white boxes, or appearing in cut-out circles that are covered by hand-blown glass bubbles. “I was always fascinated by video but I didn’t want to accept the squarescreen,” the artist says. “I was searching for solutions for that. Video shouldn’t be caged by technology”.
By projecting the video onto complex glass surfaces, the colours shimmer and dance, taking on a life that goes beyond the original film. The overall distorting effect draws attention not just to the subject matter of the video but its format, reinforcing the idea that videos aren’t just windows into another world, but objects in and of themselves.
To create her videos, “the starting point of the work is often an idea or a question,” Loher says. “I start to translate this idea into this multimedia language”. The questions themselves often feature prominently in the pieces. In a series of “Portals,” Loher spells out abstract questions like “Does your concept of country have a flag?” and “Are you afraid of the poor?” with choreographed dancers who cluster together to form letters before falling apart.
Bees feature prominently in Loher’s exhibition, even as they disappear from nature through mysterious phenomena like Colony Collapse Disorder. “I’m an environmentalist, that’s one of my biggest concerns,” the artist says.” She uses bees to illustrate the “problematic aspect of the imbalance that we are creating on our planet”.
Rather than didactic lessons, Loher’s videos are meant as provocations to reconsider where we stand in our own worlds. The artist doesn’t want to provide any easy conclusions. “I prefer to ask questions than to give answers,” she says. “I find it’s more inspiring for the viewer to be asked something rather than answered something—it inspires them to find answers”.
Katja Loher shows at c24 gallery in New York until June 21st.