December 14, 2019 - January 11, 2020
Ki Smith Gallery presents Bridging Grey, a new video and performance installation by German artist Annina Roescheisen. Her readings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are the basis for this new body of work. In the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these philosophers began to investigate the aesthetics of color. Roescheisen has been most influenced by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose intuitive approach linked the colors we see to the emotion and mood we feel in their presence. In his Theory of Colours, Goethe writes about painting, “From these three, light, shade, and colour, we construct the visible world, and thus, at the same time, make painting possible, an art which has the power of producing on a flat surface a much more perfect visible world than the actual one can be.”
The artist’s consideration of this text—along with her studies of Otto Philipp Runge, a young German painter who based his color palette tremendously on Goethe’s findings—formed the basis for her new body of work, interpreting color in the second dimension in the three-dimensional discipline of performance art.
In Bridging Grey, the Roescheisen moves theory into practice. Her installation includes eight screens that continuously loop dance performances both choreographed and beautifully executed by Roescheisen. These performances are unique to her larger body of work, in that the artist plays herself, representing her own perceptions and emotions, rather than those of another character or entity. Each screen symbolically represents a different color of the rainbow through dance, cinematography, and light. The artist is particularly concerned with how a single color represents a duality of meaning. For example, in the English language, blue is prevalently used to express sadness: one “feels blue.” However, in Bridging Grey, the color blue also communicates a deep introspection of the soul or can be associated with the uplifting vastness of the sky. Red represents the heated intensity of both love and rage. That each color can be interpreted as dual in meaning speaks to the binary patterns of right and wrong that dictate our methods of thinking instilled at a young age and implemented over the course of a lifetime.
The heart of the installation, as its title suggests, is the color grey. Roescheisen proposes grey as the neutralizer, a color that lacks the emotively-charged associations of the rainbow. In this performance, the extremes of black and white converge as a visual representation of the implied dualities that exist within the other colors of the rainbow. The point at which black and white intersect results in variant hues of grey. Roescheisen hopes grey becomes a balance between the two extremes, and that this will bring into question our pursuit of unity and perfection, not only in art, but also in our engagement with politics, relationships, culture, and the smaller pursuits that compose each day. In this way, Bridging Grey provides the rare experience for the viewer to connect earthly experience with what the artist describes as the divine.
Says Roescheisen: “Art, is a non-verbal and universal, free language, that raises awareness and brings us back to our emotional truths. Where the simple word often seems stuck in the brain, the artistic visual language pierces our emotional body, therefore revealing our emotional truths. We often understand color as a unity, we don’t tend to divide the rainbow into its components. A color (form) stays the same, while our vision of color (emotion) is dynamic.”