Nachtgesang. Heidrun Sandbichler, Ausstellung Museum Villa Stuck 2023, Photo Miro Kuzmanovic
Heidrun Sandbichler: Nachtgesang
Jun 28 – Oct 1, 2023
Villa Stuck
München, Germany

A damaged plastic ship filled with liquid ink floats in a pool of water. The Noah’s Ark can capsize at any time and spill out its contents. It’s only a matter of time before the water starts to change color. Heidrun Sandbichler thus reminds us of the fragility of existence as well as of the futility of collective agreements: a battered sign of hope that hardly has a chance of arriving safely on the other bank.

The targeted goal of the precarious Patera could be another work by Sandbichler: The New Colossus is a monumental text work with the sonnet by Emma Lazarus, whose verses welcome refugees to America – attached to the base of the Statue of Liberty, it serves literally and figuratively Sense as the foundation of a nation of immigrants. There, the history of Europe, shaped by refugee experiences, meets the present of a policy that openly violates human rights.

In recent decades, Heidrun Sandbichler has created a concentrated oeuvre that expresses the injuries of the individual as well as the collective wounds of society in a poetic and touching way. And yet her politically engaged work is always quiet. It hints, doesn’t shout, and stems from an aesthetic attitude that goes beyond bold statements. The works of Heidrun Sandbichler are formally reduced to a minimum, an essential means of expression is their material. For example, she often uses a special ink that, thick and dark, carries a moment of pause. The silence, the pain and the attention that the exploration of these works requires are equally represented there. The ink also refers to writing and thus to memory, a repository of knowledge that is not directly accessible and manifests itself as a hunch or shadow.

Sources and references to history bubble up from some of Sandbichler’s works and initiate transformation processes that lead radically into the present. Her preoccupation with the Villa Stuck as a total work of art inspired her to create a new work, which is based on Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus (Amsterdam 1665) with its volcanic flows in the earth’s interior. True to scale, the network of lakes and streams filled with liquid ink stands in space as a counterpart to the heavenly vault of the music salon. And when bronze molehills adorn Franz von Stuck’s harmoniously antique-style artist’s garden, we can now assume underground passages that declare the villa to be a Kafkaesque “building.”

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