Berlin-based artist Kathrin Sonntag’s new installation I See You Seeing Me See You will be showcased until 4 April at Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee. The piece consists of everyday objects including mirrors, display cases, tulips and paint all re-contextualised into an intriguing ensemble. Items from museum and taxidermy collections also feature, such as glass prosthetic eyes for the blind and animal eye.
The objects in Sonntag’s installation are not far from the material of magic acts: double blinds, spoofs and props create subtle drama that resonates with the suggestive work of French artist Jimmy Robert. A habit of placing materials in comparison together to highlight their difference and assumed properties is another key attribute connecting Robert and Sonntag. Paper, leather, fabric and even the moving body are juxtaposed to bring out differences in their nature.
The installation also features slide projections, showing small incremental details with a seductive quality. Possible narratives unfold in a similar way to the Möbius strip loops of Glasgow-based artist Hazel France. I See You Seeing Me See You was curated by Sophia Hao, whose inquisitive tendency to draw attention to the choreography of the space shows them off perfectly. The works seem to transform themselves and visitors moving through the exhibition.
Our navigation of the gallery and the works become a unique singular experience. The purpose of this exhibition is to encourage looking, luring us ever closer to bring into focus and discover Sonntag’s fine elaborate and elegant details, noted visual witticisms and pleasures. An enclosed off area asks us to peer over only to be presented with a large sheet of broken glass stained yellow and a hammer is close by. A propped up sweeping brush at the other end of the room, window cleaner, and a ceramic broken fried egg is a set up for a sculptural and spatial gag and punch line.
Sonntag’s installation has the quality of artists’ moving image as compositions emerge and perspectives changes., requesting a slow, meditative and analytical pace. The illusion of images and the solidity of their surfaces, double and triple reflections, materials and objects fall in and out of our gaze through vertical sculptural frames. Four slide projections change in slow sequences. A “black” area like a photographer’s dark room with lenses, lens caps and books on camera technique is offset with inks in vibrant yellow. This region of the show is the most attentive to the elusive nature of images, especially photography and is staged to reinforce photography’s magical potential and ghostly nature.
Our mind is focused on the sensations of looking, cognitive perception and seeing through our eye’s periphery. Returning us to the recurring motif of this show – the glass eye – and the long apprenticeships of their makers, Sonntag’s craftsmanship and understanding of sight and what it means to see is manifest throughout.
Kathrin Sonntag: I See You Seeing Me See You, until 4 April, Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee, 13 Perth Road Dundee DD1 4HT. For more information visit www.dundee.ac.uk.
1. Kathrin Sonntag, Installation view from I See You Seeing Me See You, Cooper Gallery 2014. Images courtesy of Kathrin Sonntag and Cooper Gallery.