nathalie koger

The Difference Lies in the Eyes of the Beholders

On the works Blind Date with Baldessari – Projects and Assignments /
Montage Neu
/ Was ausgestellt wird
Linda Klösel

Healing and regeneration of the exhausted self or strengthening of the body within the community: in her film installation "Montage Neu" (2012) in the Bellevue-Saal Wiesbaden, Nathalie Koger interweaves current notions of body culture and health with those prevalent at the beginning of the previous century and at the same time defines them as being closely related to the impact and outcomes of a changing, economy-oriented society. The starting point is Wilhelm Prager’s documentary film "Die neue Großmacht" (1925) on the Workers’ Olympic Games held in Frankfurt. Solidarity and community, self-initiative and self-responsibility—in combination with the healthy treatment of the body in harmony with nature—were central to the socialist workers’ movement. However, the submerging of the individual in the mass, an exaggerated body-cult, and the uniformity of the choreography are today often seen as the ideological predecessors of the Nazi ‘cultic adoration’ of the body. The narrative consolidation of these images and the resulting associations are not only interlaced with the representation of Far Eastern relaxation techniques, but also set in contrast to these, and re-evaluated. In three projections, the artist stages various methods (Thai, Tantra and Shiatsu) with an aestheticism that consciously recalls the era of silent film. Rest, relaxation, body contact, and the opportunity just to be oneself, comprise the health-promoting treatment of those debilitated as a result of driving themselves to the limit, symptoms deriving from a labor capitalism defined by exclusion and competition. The subtitles faded into the films are based on prior research and interviews with the experts, reflecting their working conditions and the perspectives concerning their approach to clients. By interlinking past and present manifestations of the physical, Nathalie Koger attempts to prepare the way for a possible re-evaluation of historical conditions, while at the same time opening up differentiated vistas of the historical development of relationship structures.

Whereas "Montage Neu" deals with the exploration of various social and ‘society’ spheres, the film "Was ausgestellt wird" (2011) focuses on the spheres of artistic representation. In the theatrically-charged setting of the Gustinus Ambrosi Museum in Vienna, Nathalie Koger develops a choreography for the circus artist and hula-hoop dancer Annabel Carberry. Here, the public’s hide-bound memories of a controversial, state-sanctioned artist, whose proximity to key figures of the many, varied political ideologies before and during the Second World War raises numerous questions, collide with the world of the circus: an ‘narrative’ that can be utilized in multifunctional ways, and to which all the political systems of industrialized modernism took recourse in order to convey the basic tenets of their ideological self-view. Directed by Nathalie Koger, the circus artist ‘smiles her way’ through the exhibition. She spins the hula-hoops round her neck, her waist, her arms and her legs, throwing them into the space around her, thus becoming part of it and, as it were, ‘inscribing’ herself on it. Finally, she climbs on to a round piece of furniture in the middle of the room, where she continues her performance: a dramaturgical highpoint that takes the contrast between statue and movement to extremes. The coming together of complementary systems of thought and ’narratives’ opens the way to a fresh differentiation of our habitual perspectives.

At issue is Nathalie Koger’s aim to access the previously unused potential inherent in those manifestations of the reality which are fixed because of the way we are used to perceiving things. Thus she sees the reciprocal cross-fading of historical document and current narrative as an instrument for shifting perspective. In this case the ‘Montage’ technique at each connecting point integrates anew the spectators’ ability to experience things and to use their imagination.

Various concepts of collaboration and a political grasp of individual participation in a productive community manifest themselves again and again in Koger’s works. The artist sees herself as a director under whose aegis the activities of various performers are subsumed to form a new concept. Choreography, dramaturgy, and the collective interaction of a company of individuals or assembled components can be deduced directly from the work itself. For "Blind date with Baldessari" (2011) part of the exhibition series "Projects and Assignments" in Vienna’s Saprophyt, Koger, as stipulated in the concept of the series, not only integrates all her previous stances but also complements them with the work of six additional artists, moreover transforming the private rooms of the organizers into an extended exhibition room. Levels of meaning relating to authorship disintegrate and have to be renegotiated again and again. Through the re-use or continued use of artworks for new artistic productions, their intrinsic symbolic value is separated from the object itself. They constitute the material that Nathalie Koger uses to make room for new interpretations and the reconstruction of differentiated associations.

Press links Birgit-Jürgenssen-Award

Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien / Jubilee

Press release Birgit-Jürgenssen-Award / Nathalie Koger

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