Memory and imagination are the themes of Christian Haake’s (born 1969 in Bremerhaven, Federal Republic of Germany) sculptural work. He has, among other things, constructed display cases and windows, made new paper from old newspapers, and reduced letters to their basic contours. His frame of reference is the external objective world, or rather its traces, both physically and as reminiscence. Haake creates forms that are empty and full at the same time. In viewing his work, one is often confronted with plain surfaces and open spaces; however, his objects and installations are rarely truly empty. The white tiled surfaces of his wall sculptures reveal traces of their production and their transience; the works that create and occupy space do so with reference to their architectural-social environment. They have a past, even if it is undefined. Their present is precarious, their future only vague. Christian Haake’s works are full of references to everyday moments and to history. This forces viewers to make associations, leading them into uncertainty. Hints of some kind of reality are ever-present. One tries to pinpoint them – yet it seems to be in vain. Christian Haake lives and works in Bremen.
Published in: Christian Haake, Kunstverein Ruhr / Salon Verlag, 2012
White Elephant. A video loop projected onto the wall relates an apparently endless journey through a shopping mall such as the ones we are familiar with in Düsseldorf, Oberhausen, and Mülheim, another one recently opening at Limbecker Platz in Essen. However, in contrast to these operational malls, this labyrinth of consumption appears to be disconcertingly empty and in a state of decay, and it lacks store displays or people. The laconic tracking shot, with its noisy soundtrack in the background, does not seem to want to come to an end. In the United States, these bankrupt and consequently abandoned shopping centers are referred to as “white elephants.” In this case as well, Christian Haake did not make his video in a real mall but in a two-by-four-meter model constructed specifically for this purpose and using a miniature camera. The accuracy of the shattered shop windows, missing tiles, and a scenario in which melancholy predominates is striking. Yet even at third glance, the perplexingly “genuine“ new construction of the abandoned mall con rms the assumption that what we are dealing with here is a symbolic production and not a “realistic documentation.” Christian Haake proves himself to be all the more an artist who is not concerned with precise depictions in terms of a misunderstood “realism,” but rather with a conceptional approach that is in a position to shape and change our perceptions.
It’s Like a Walk in Hopper. Yet one should take the time to recognize and to acknowledge the video’s formal qualities, distribution of light, and its overall dramaturgy. In this respect, what is notable are the calm, smooth tracking shot and the associated lighting of the lmic ambience of what we now know to be a model. Haake’s distribution of light creates an atmosphere we often nd in well composed paintings. Diagonal strips of light organize the projection surface like two merging images. Some will feel reminded of the sophisticated light situations in pictures by the American painter Edward Hopper.
And some of the atmospheres in postwar American literature in which the protagonists linger in a state of meaningless rather than live are described in a way that could also nd its equivalent both in Hopper’s paintings as well as in this video. What they all share is a contemplative conviction borne by basic existential principles that is lent cre- dible expression. Haake shows us something that we believe to have seen before. Yet these memories prove to be constructed visions that cause us to become thoughtful and that pose riddles. Their references to the realities of our cities, to everyday consumption, turn them into melancholy commentaries on our present age that are however acutely pertinent to reality. Christian Haake furthermore developed a unique soundtrack for his video that initially sounds like equipment-related noise: each succession of cuts, often associated with a change in the direction of the camera, alters the pitch and volume of this constant tone. Here, Haake captured those moments from various (unidentified) film sequences in which no dialogue took place. This technique of em- ploying gaps and silence, which is used, for example, in action lms, often serves to create tension. In this case, Haake is capable of setting both a monotonous as well as irritating counterpoint—off-camera, so to speak—to his tracking shot that in retrospect may be reminiscent of John Cage’s treatment and compositional analysis of silence.
Walter Benjamin Says Hello. With respect to both dealing with memories as well as understanding inner-city situations, the German phi- losopher, author, and art critic Walter Benjamin almost automatically adopts a special position. In his book The Arcades Project he develops a method of viewing history in which big city phenomena such as boulevards, shop windows, street lighting, and the eponymous glass-covered arcades begin to play a particular role. For Benjamin, in metropolises such as Paris, London, Brussels, or Berlin, the flaneur someone underway and without a specific goal within an urban environment— has stood for the archetypical city dweller since the 19th century. By stopping to look at shop window displays, exchanging glances with other passers-by, or sitting down in a café, together with like-minded fidlers he assures himself of a certain attitude toward life. Benjamin calls the arcades “temples of commodity capital,” and the presentation of various articles that can be purchased in illuminated shop windows and display cases becomes their trademark and actual purpose. In addition, the steel constructions developed in the 19th century allow the extensive glazing and transparence of the respective architecture and lend these ambulatories a dual character. They are simultaneously inside and outside, street and building, and moving within them corresponds with a form of behavior in public urban space that remains valid to this day. Special credit belongs to Walter Benjamin for declaring the promenading and consuming that became features of a “structural transformation of the public sphere” in the 19th century as a model of the historical development of middle-class society, whose symptoms continue to be visible and perceptible. The un nished Arcades Projectcan justifiably be understood as the “prehistory of modernity,” an unusual and still applicable parable capable of developing a perspective for the present and the future based on urban development of the 19th century and which stands at a clear distance from methods of a conventional interpretation of history.
On Diplays, Drawing Room, Hamburg
fluid, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst
possumplay, Galerie K', Bremen
Einzelpräsentation mit Galerie K', viennacontemporary, Wien, Austria
Spins/Circles/Abstracts, Kunsthalle Bremerhaven
Echoes, Kunstverein Langenhagen
Nachbilder, Kunstverein Ruhr, Essen
White Elephant, GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen
Fisherman`s Friends (with Horst Müller), Cuxhavener Kunstverein
Transit, Bremer Kunst Satellit (with Korpys/Löffler), Galerie Manzara Perspectives, Istanbul, Turkey
Open Space, Art Cologne, Galerie Katharina Bittel
NOW SHOW, Galerie Katharina Bittel, Hamburg
Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung, Bremen
Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst
Look! Enthüllungen zu Kunst und Fashion, Marta, Herford
Invitation to Love – a groupshow curated by FORT, Kunstverein Bremerhaven
Bildersprachen, Syker Vorwerk
|_|, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria
Review, Galerie Christine König, Wien, Austria
Interludium I, GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen
Editionen, Kunstverein Bremerhaven
Künstlerräume 02, Weserburg - Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen
Was Modelle können, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen
Cage_Raum, kuratiert von Wulf Herzogenrath, SUUM academy, Seoul, Korea
Beauty lies in desire, museum of contemporary art, Novi Sad, Serbia
Blanks, Galerie K', Bremen
COLLAB, Kreuzbergpavillon, Berlin
HEIMsuchung, Kunstmuseum Bonn
+6/2012 shortlist Columbus Art Foundation, Ravensburg
Double take, kuratiert von Brigitte Kölle, M.1 Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung, Hohenlockstedt
Transit, Bremer Kunst Satellit at Galerie Manzara Perspectives, Istanbul, Turkey
Präsentation Paula- Modersohn-Becker-Preis, Kunsthalle Worpswede
Gazing into the stars, Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia
Grid and Line, Galerie Katharina Bittel, Hamburg
Space Revised #1 Friendly Takeovers. Strategien der Raumaneignung, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen