TWO POSITIONS: SUSANNE HUTH, JULIA MÜLLER
Opening: Friday, 16 November 2012, 7 p.m.
Exhibition: 17 November - 15 December 2012
The new works by Susanne Huth and Julia Müller present us with very different venues but find their common reference point in the omnipresence of economic ties. While Julia Müller conveys a sense of rigidity with her redolent images of southern Greece, which we inevitably associate with the financial crisis, Susanne Huth’s photographs of Hamburg harbour show in a specific case how the dynamics of the exploitation chain link Germany with Africa.
Julia Müller: λυκφως Blaue Stunde (Blue Hour) (2012)
Twilight falls gradually over a sublime landscape of mountains and sea, a motif that conjures up a timeless, indefinable longing for faraway places. The geographic location – Julia Müller shot her video Ionian Nightfall close to the island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea – invokes the world of Homeric epics, a time of legends. This resonating space matches the poetic term blue hour, which describes the particular kind of light and characteristic atmosphere that prevails before day turns to night. Far from evoking a mood of romance, however, Müller’s images – fragmentary views of debris, dusty plants, half-finished houses and scrap cars – leave the impression of the makeshift, of stagnation, of resignation. Although none of the images contain concrete references to the political or economic situation in Greece, they summon up notions of state bankruptcy and the threat of poverty, of dependence on global financial markets. Gone is the allusion to the cradle of Western culture or to a light-hearted joie de vivre: Greece has become an intimidating scenario for the economic decline of the whole of Europe.
Susanne Huth: Global Forwarding (2012)
Cheap business cards sent Susanne Huth on the trail of a flourishing international trade: selling cars in upcoming cities in West Africa, cars that would be worth next to nothing on the German second-hand car market. This form of global forwarding is not the tale of an odyssey but rather the small number of highly efficient stages to be absolved: car dealers bring the cars to Hamburg harbour where they are loaded onto ro-ro vessels (roll on/ roll off) and ultimately delivered to their new owners in Sierra Leone, Benin or Nigeria. Without committing herself to a chronological documentation, Susanne Huth’s photographs taken at the shipping location in Hamburg give us an exact picture of the transfer procedure: harbour views of scrap heaps where reject items are immediately cannibalized, of the shabby slab building that houses the logistics firm, of transport lists and route maps, of rows of cars against a backdrop of loading cranes, of an interior space seen through a window and used as a loading bay for other goods. But nowhere is the transition from one world to the other so transparent than in close-ups of the delivery note listing African names and locations underneath which stickers bearing the names of the former car owners are partly visible.