In her photography, Luise Marchand (born 1987, Saxony-Anhalt) draws on an aesthetics and a visual vocabulary that remind the viewer of the advertising industry. The collision of organic and artificial elements is central to her work. In her images she juxtaposes all kinds of accessories for self-optimization with the imperfectibility of transient things, including the human body. Luise Marchand lives and works in Berlin. In 2019 she received the Leipzig G2 Kunsthalle Art Prize. She was a recipient of the Kunstverein Hannover’s Atelier Scholarship Villa Minimo in 2020. In the same year she received the Wüstenrot Foundation’s award for documentary photography. Recently her film installation Liquid Company/Flüssige Gesellschaft was shown at Museum Folkwang, Essen as well as at the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts.
On the occassion of the exhibition Muttererde at Kunstverein Hannover, 2022
The scent of the “eternal rose” emitted by the lifeless floristry elements in Luise Marchand’s Muttererde series has a dual effect: it symbolizes the preservation of natural beauty and stands for the abnormal distortion that takes place in the synthetic production of perfection. The “eternal rose” is of course an oxymoron, a contradiction that becomes quite palpable in this work. This kind of ambivalency is central to Muttererde, in which the collision between organic and artificial elements is especially meaningful.
The three-part installation references the broad-ranging and contemporary meaning of floristry under the influence of capitalism’s creation of added value, which always prefers topsoil, the most fertile horizon in natural resources. Yet it also exposes the failure that the floristry industry is obliged to take part in, to artificially imitate the rich, fertile soil. With photography as her instrument, Luise Marchand casts a light on the traditional craft of working with flowers as well as the cultural use of flower arrangements for birthdays, weddings, and memorial services. Both aspects are collaged with mateirals that point to the increasing synthetization in the processing of flowers and plants. The sheets applied to the exhibition space’s overhead lighting and their application in the UV prints on glass clearly allude to the artificial conditions for cultivating and conserving cut flowers. At the same time, the use of fencing elements from the cages of small animals references the domestication of other living beings in general.
With one foot firmly in the tradition of vanitas still lifes and the other engaged in playing with the visual vocabulary of the advertising industry, Muttererde recalls some of the earliest aesthetic questions while also provoking contemporary and moral reflection on life, consumption, and how we interact with living organisms.
Towards a new We with the artist Luise Marchand
Luise Marchand’s project Liquid Company – Flüssige Gesellschaft is centred around the dream of self-determination and work-life balance, which has become a potentially achievable goal in the twenty-first century. This development originates from the New Work concept, which emerged in the wake of globalisation, automation, and digitisation in the 1980s, promising freedom, autonomy, and participation. Employees’ self-fulfilment within the work environment is regarded as key, along with the reverse – a higher level of identification with their team and company. Marchand not only cast her attention on the changing world of work, she also became part of it: She created different profiles on online job portals and became a part of innovative team structures. She joined team-building events and worked in various co-working spaces. The artist recorded her activities with screenshots as well as regular and GoPro cameras, using her documentation to create the immersive installation From Me to We.
To view the work, we must lie down on a small platform in the exhibition space to make the video play. The narrator’s voice invites us to join the onboarding for a new Employee Life Cycle. As we are listening to how we might become part of a team, we see, from the artist’s perspective, how she entered the sphere of New Work. We, as observers, are invited to follow this onboarding process in mind and body through instructions addressed directly to us – ‘breathe in, breathe out’. Another voice tells us how she is immersing herself in the new community and wants to grow with it. This ‘I’ briefly voices her doubts about these neoliberal promises, before she completely gives herself over to the ‘beautiful new world’. The installation is surrounded by five photo collages with telling titles:
Your Company Loves You, Now;
Flatwhite – You Matter;
Employee of the Month,
Brick to Go; Half Full;
In the images, countless smileys are grinning at us, apples and cups are branded with the slogans from the titles, and cardboard cut-outs stand in for employees.
For this project, Luise Marchand utilises a form of providing testimony in which one’s own subjective experience acts as a filter for the documentary perspective. She transfers the role of witness to us when we physically take part in the installation. Here, the nature of the ‘documentary’ as a concept manifests itself as more than the artist’s presentation of her visual research and arguments. Indeed the most fundamental aspect of this project is the observer’s experience, which the artist guides and shapes through her incorporation of the visual and linguistic codes of New Work.
Time is Money – A Snail is a Snail
Luise Marchand observed snails as they dragged their bodies across notes and coins, climbing up the folds and stacks – how they stretched out their feelers gingerly, yet also full of curiosity. With their flat planes of light colour, the images she captured of these scenes remind the viewer of stock photography. Grouped under the didactic title Time is Money, the photographs of the snails in their landscape made of money could indeed serve as effective illustrations for advertisements or news reports. And yet the combination of snails and money is not quite as frictionless as one might initially presume; it actually creates all kinds of problems. Because it seems that each of the two elements possesses a number of characteristics that only become apparent in their unlikely encounter. Perhaps it could be compared to that sensation in your mouth when you eat a soft-boiled egg with a silver spoon. Each in their own right, snails and money are acceptable. We are used to thinking of their origins in nature or civilization as separate. Luise Marchand’s snails drag themselves across notes and coins as they usually would across grass and fallen fruit. That this warm and slimy act of contact, ultimately a touch that devours, is being performed with agents of the market economy – of all things – makes it into something sexual, with an unsettling effect. Notes and coins are anal objects. The cultural practice from which they originate is based on the moral values of work ethic and frugality. People cling to notes and coins, they hoard them, even after the digital age has brought about the dissolution of their paper and metal forms. Notes and coins indeed do not belong to a snail’s natural environment, nor do they belong to the part of everyday human life in which snails are interested in. As the clearly most primary natural element in the images, the snails creep across the most mediated (or estranged) part of a culture.
Die Zeichen stehen gut
Post-industrial society has lost its grip on notions of work, rest and leisure.The rise of immaterial labour has been met with a growing optimisation of the individual, a continuous variable with multiple presences and temporalities-The prevalence tide of mixed, private- professional engagement forces us to be always, all ways, switched on. What does this mean for our intimate lives, our privacy and our integrity? Our needs and desires are changing, as are our values. Well, the signs, the prospects, the indications are good. Good for what, for whom? Ask the objects that surround us, that serve us and distract us on a daily basis. Objects that perform so that we can too. They help us tend toour delicate, docile bodies so we can stay in the race, multi-tasking and mobile. Carefully compartmentalised, even our te- ars are ergonomic these days. Kinesio tape on the shoulder replaces a warm hand, a touch helping us keep it together. As technologies of self-regulation and -exploitation are condensed and dispersed through our mental, emotion and physical lives, we’d better stay on the good side of these gadgets and tools.
Power Of We
Liquid Company - Flüssige Gesellschaft. Dokumentarförderpreis 13 der Wüstenrotstiftung (with Sabrina Asche, Heiko Schäfer, Wenzel Stählin), Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin
Liquid Company - Flüssige Gesellschaft. Dokumentarförderpreis 13 der Wüstenrot Stiftung (with Sabrina Asche,Heiko Schäfer, Wenzel Stählin), Museum für Photographie, Braunschweig
Liquid Company - Flüssige Gesellschaft. Dokumentarförderpreis 13 der Wüstenrot Stiftung (with Sabrina Asche,Heiko Schäfer, Wenzel Stählin), Museum im Kleihues-Bau, Kornwestheim
(with Stefanie Seubert), Laura Mars Gallery, Berlin
Grund und Boden, Galerie K', Bremen
Preis des Kunstvereins Hannover, Kunstverein Hannover
Liquid Company - Flüssige Gesellschaft. Dokumentarförderpreis 13 der Wüstenrot Stiftung (with Sabrina Asche, Heiko Schäfer, Wenzel Stählin), Museum Folkwang, Essen
Liquid Company - Flüssige Gesellschaft. Dokumentarförderpreis 13 der Wüstenrot Stiftung (with Sabrina Asche, Heiko Schäfer, Wenzel Stählin), Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig
Zeit ist Geld. Eine Schnecke ist eine Schnecke, 1200 posters in the public space during Gallery Weekend Berlin
POW – The Power of We, HGB Galerie, Leipzig
ACTS OF RESPONSIVENESS, Torrance Shipman Gallery, New York, USA
Bye Body, Bye, The Grass is Greener Gallery, Spinnerei, Leipzig
Stadt, Wert, Fluß, Artweek Berlin, Haus1
12. Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie
Touch. Politiken der Berührung, EMOP Special c/o Amtssalon
Der neue Mensch, Worpswede Museen
I DON'T WORK ON WEEKENDS, Kunstverein Göttingen
THE ALIEN EVERYDAY, Spoiler, Berlin
Verletzbare Subjekte, Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst, Zitadelle, Berlin
Junge Kunst aus Düsseldorf, Stadtgalerie Kaarst, Düsseldorf
Tender Buttons, Künstlerhaus Bremen
Touch, nGbK, Berlin
Object Lessons, Leipzig Kunstverein, Leipzig
Kombi 5, Bethanien Art Center, Berlin
Situationists/Flesh, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Schweiz