Grund und Boden
In her photography, Luise Marchand 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 first solo exhibition at Galerie K', she presents two recent series that deal with this collision as an interrelationship, both as an unsettling, incidental encounter and a forceful, targeted one.
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.
Radek Krolczyk, 2021
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 series of photographs 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 materials 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.
Alexandra Karg, 2022
Exhibition photographie Volker Crone