Trisha Donnelly at Weekend Gallery: Alchemy from the Darkroom – Culture

In optimization, there is an exercise in which several participants must try to get the audience’s attention. Amazingly, while everyone else is struggling, whoever does the least wins. It is similar to Trisha Donnelly. The more I pulled back, the more I wanted to know more about the artist personally. The more stories emerge the more shadow of their art. The unfathomable shy. horse ring.

Trisha Donnelly has already had a solo exhibition at the Buchholz Gallery in Cologne. But not yet in the Berlin branch. She came to the Spree by herself to prepare her first big show for the weekend at the photo gallery. It was not possible to know in advance what you were going to do. There is no text, gallery title or post on Instagram. Donnelly’s films, photographs and installations, often also fleeting architectural interventions, can only be approached by those who encounter them firsthand.

An art that cannot be told

Part of this game is that the artist explains a little about her work. Or she was said to explain it a little. What’s even more exciting is that they sometimes appear in person. Once she was said to have sang a song by Nina Simone in Oslo and then immediately disappeared. Once more readable, her work consisted of whispering and singing into the ventilation system of a Moscow building. There is no text that does not describe how, in 2002, she walked in Manhattan on a horse disguised as a Napoleon courier, to her gallery in New York, where she read a mysterious surrender and disappeared again.

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In Buchholz on Fasanenstraße, everything is as you feared. The gallery is very quiet and reserved, many white walls and lots of black wood floors that have just been renovated. About 20 black and white photographs of the artist hang on the walls behind thin frameless glass, each one held together by four black nails. Individually, in pairs, in groups of three.

For the first time, Trisha Donnelly shows only symmetrical portraits, says gallery owner Daniel Buchholz. So this isn’t your typical Donnelly show with synesthesia, light, sound and picture – that’s an increased reduction. In printed images, several images are displayed one above the other.

Also a game: the shy artist

Motives are abstract. Like clouds that pile up, and color that works, the Rorschach test is black and white. Everyone sees what is inside of them, looking at their emptiness or their fullness. Every detail can come into play with Donnelly, nails, glass, hanging, light, and the room in the gallery that was not otherwise used and in which more paintings are now on display.

One notes with amazement that the artist is personally present, not hiding from prying eyes, but standing on the balcony in the evening sun. It is not right that she does not talk about her art. Hardly anyone asks, she says. The images shown are based on the landscape photos she’s been making for years and experiences she loves in the darkroom.

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When describing Trisha Donnelly’s work, you can search your vocabulary as you wish. Internal organs, x-rays, monsters, all can be associated with pictures. But now you have something. Once you know they often shoot “boring landscapes,” you can see some here, too: silhouettes of trees and shrubs, looming skies, and vertically shot. Black stripe in the middle. How to grasp the mind greedily clues. A reaction that can hardly be prevented. Unless you’re acting like Donnelly dismissing context and interpretation. He leaves the viewer alone with his presentation.

Trisha Donnelly had her first solo show on The Shed

Born in California in 1974, she has been showing her work since 1999. She participated in the Venice Biennale twice and in 2012 in Documenta 13 with a film made of shapes, colors and light. In London, she did little at the Serpentine Gallery and inspired many, in New York she was allowed to compete in her first solo exhibition at “The Shed”, the new cultural center at Hudson Yards. In Germany, her triumphant run began in the mid-2000s in the Rhineland, she was awarded the Central Art Prize, shown at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, and it is said that there was a horse in the gallery hall again. Although no one knows for sure if this is actually the case.

Her work was subsequently exhibited by video art collector Julia Stoczyk in Düsseldorf, and in 2017 she was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, which the Ludwig Museum has already awarded to Rosemary Trockle, Christopher Wall and Cindy Sherman. Director Yilmaz Dzivor, who organized Maria Eichhorn’s intervention at the German Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, was excited as Donnelly took on the central question of art—what a work of art actually is—in the future.

[Galerie Buchholz, Fasanenstr. 30, 29. 4. bis 4.6., zum Gallery Weekend am Sa 29.April und So 1. Mai ist von 11 bis 19 Uhr geöffnet.]

Everyone has to decide for themselves what they see there

This is perhaps the best way to describe Donnelly’s art: first erasing all meaning, then confronting viewers with their own experience. Too lonely. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they see there. It’s exhausting, uncomfortable and a bit mean. Because you often feel like you don’t understand what’s important.

Part of Trisha Donnelly’s work is asking yourself what you want from art. Why do you want to know how it happened and what it refers to? In Donnelly’s case, the practice is to feel your own energy, not necessarily that of the artist. Whoever looks up to it wins.

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