Bettina Pousttchi, Installation view, Buchmann Galerie, 2023
Bettina Pousttchi / In Transit
Sep 2 – Oct 28, 2023
Buchmann Galerie
Berlin, Germany

The Buchmann Galerie is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition In Transit by Bettina Pousttchi.

Bettina Pousttchi’s multifaceted oeuvre, which includes sculpture, photography, installation and site-specific façade works, has been expanded in recent years by the series titled Vertical Highways. The artist developed these anthropomorphic- looking, dance-like sculptures formed from crash barriers as part of her exploration of physical objects that control, regulate and order public space.

The exhibition In Transit now open at the Buchmann Galerie presents new works that expand and complement the formal language of the Vertical Highways series. The Progressions series works sculpturally with the phenomenon of sequence and its direct associations with movement and time. The distorted crash barriers, arranged in ascending order, thereby set in motion a dialogue between the ascending elements and the rhythmic-serial character of the sequence. In the exploration of the sequential and ordering in sequence of the pictorial, reference can be made to moving images such as film and video and the beginnings of these media, for example, the chronophotography of Eadweard Muybridge. The association with these early photographs in series, the first to show people, horses and other living beings in various stages of motion, is central to the moment of movement and fluidity seen in the artist’s work.

Alongside Vertical Highways – Progression 01, an almost four-metre-wide, 230-centimetre-high sculpture, Bettina Pousttchi is also showing new works in the exhibition in which she experiments with both colours and formats. In contrast to the previous works in the Vertical Highways series, which were in traffic-light colours, the new works expand the colour palette with sandy earth tones. No longer life-size, the height of the works gives them a new gestalt with which the artist continues her investigation into the plastic qualities of the material and its relation to the human body.

The artist creates the sculptures using an elaborate process in which she deforms the industrial prefabricated parts of the crash barriers being used under high pressure, erects them vertically, and then assembles them into new figurations before applying colour. The vertical orientation of the crash barriers, in subverting their normal horizontal use, breaks with their usual spatial arrangement and provides the sculptures with an architectural reference. The sequential use of the source material both ties in with the concepts of Minimal art and demonstrates their connection to Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades.

Bettina Pousttchi recently inaugurated the largest sculpture in the Vertical Highways series to date at Berlin Central Station. This sculpture, which was designed specifically for the location on Washingtonplatz and is six metres high, underlines Bettina Pousttchi’s interest in the complex notion of the public realm.

The street objects the artist employs in her sculptures, such as crowd barriers, bollards, bike racks and crash barriers, are typically used to structure public space and regulate the possibilities of movement in it. Yet, often going unnoticed, the artist brings these objects back into focus and perception through her sculptures, thereby raising the question of the societal interplay between control and freedom, so central to civil society.

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