Thoughts On: Berlin Gallery Weekend (Part Four: Pamela Rosenkranz)

         Pamela Rosenkranz

She Has No Mouth at Sprüth Magers, Oranienburger Strasse 18, Berlin

Installation View from "She Has No Mouth" at Sprüth Magers
She Has No Mouth by the Swiss Contemporary Artist Pamela Rosenkranz, was somewhere in the region of the fifth or sixth show I visited on Saturday 29th. She Has No Mouth is showing at Sprüth Magers in the heart of Mitte, where there is a wealth of galleries competing for your attention. The title of the show alludes to the Japanese toy phenomenon Hello Kitty (who is not a cat, but a girl wearing a cat mask). Rosenkranz is making a particular nod to the fact that Hello Kitty was designed with no mouth so that the consumer could “project their own emotions” on to her.

Rosenkranz’s work looks at how various environmental factors have contributed our evolutionary development. She extrapolates on this topic in two ways: first by examining how the fashion and advertising industries have tapped into our biological responses and reactions in order to develop and sell their products; secondly, by flipping these responses and images back on their head and confronting us with the basis of our responses, divorced from a logical setting and distilled down to their very essence.

            She Has No Mouth plays with light, scent and sound in order to explore our biological and evolutionary relationship to cats. In exploring this interlinked evolutionary history, Rosenkranz brings to light several slightly disconcerting facts. I was rather perturbed to learn that there is a neuro-parasite called Toxoplasmosis which breeds in cats but uses mice and humans as intermediatory hosts and can work to change your responses to cat pheromones in order to get you close enough to a cat for it to jump ship. Chanel no.5 uses a synthetic replica of that cat pheromone as a base and Rozenkranz had installed the scent within the gallery to compliment her other pieces.

The first aspect of She Has No Mouth that you encounter is a colossal circular blue light in a small room while the sound of feral-cats meowing emanates from a small black speaker on the floor. The light dominates the dark space, enveloping and embracing you, luring you in with it’s magnetic brilliance. This light has been designed by Rosenkranz in “High Noon Blue”, a colour specifically chosen with the intent to evoke a deep and uncontrollable evolutionary response from the human viewer.

Installation View "She Has No Mouth" Sprüth Magers.
            Within the second room, you encounter eleven paintings, a large sand circle in the middle of the gallery floor. From far across the room, another colossal blue light beckons you forward. However, in this much larger room, the blue light loses the dominance that it had within the first space. The blue washes into the spectral mix between the overhead gallery lights and the much softer, late spring afternoon sunlight spilling in from the large windows.

            The eleven paintings within the second room are a strange clash both visually and texturally. Rosenkranz first sourced images of cats and close-ups of fur patterns of cats through Google. She  then painted a human-skin-like texture that she has developed within previous projects over the top. She uses this self-created process to highlight the evolution of our response to big-cat prints from primal history to modern-day interpretations. Where the recognition of these patterns would have elicited a fight-or-flight primal response from our ancestors, in a contemporary setting the patterns allude to dominance and overt sexuality. By painting the skin-like substance over the top of the prints, merging the skin and markings of these animals with our own skin, Rosenkranz adds another layer in the process of the evolution of our responses to these stimuli – indicating that in some ways the human and the cat have begun to become one.

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