Stefanie Gschwend, Director Kunstmuseum / Kunsthalle Appenezell
Greeting the Unseen
The oeuvre of Zora Berweger (*1981 in Bern, CH, lives and works in Leipzig, DE) includes painting, drawing, ceramics, installation, sculpture, photography and light. Her multimedia works draw on a vocabulary of basic geometric shapes, archaic-looking objects and design borrowed from nature.
Using minimal means and carefully chosen materials, Berweger stages her works as spatial installations. She first examines the exhibition site closely as if it were a pictorial space and then experiments with scale, constellations and displacements while juxtaposing different media. Peculiar features of volumes, surfaces and materiality unite with the perception of light and colour to lend her works an altered presence. Inspired by the spatial conditions at the Kunsthalle Appenzell, Berweger has created a dialogue amongst the works, materials and space in which the individual elements communicate with one another to reveal kinships in terms of both content and form.
Taking the layout of the Kunsthalle with its three stacked exhibition rooms as her cue, Berweger has oriented her work on the figure of a plant. She focuses here on functions, potentials and tasks of different plant parts to create combinations that invariably refer to something unseen or concealed. While the root system, anchored in the earth and thus largely hidden from view, serves as the artist’s substantive and formal starting point on the ground floor, she equates the central gallery with the core part of a plant, where nutrients are bundled and forces flow together. The uppermost space then holds manifestations of the plant within our own atmosphere as well as its connection to the greater cosmos.
The exhibition circuit starts with a large-scale neon installation created especially for this occasion. Elements whose appearance is dominated by glass, light and power cables are suspended from the ceiling by fine wires. The space is dedicated to underground realms and to the earth’s interior, so that the individual light signs making up Roots (2023) together form a kind of luminous root system. The neon bodies speak a reduced formal language and evoke multiple associations: they may recall typographic elements, written characters from past cultures, possibly hieroglyphics, symbols, antennae, tree branches or the simplest of tools. Roots refers to communication systems, for example those of plants, which are in contact with each other through their roots, not only exchanging information but also listening and hearing.
Zora Berweger’s oeuvre is marked by an interplay between flatness and space. After starting out as a painter, she has gradually shifted her practice to three-dimensional space, working with both sculpture and installation. She has increasingly focused on sculptural, pursuing works in relief and wall objects. More recently, Berweger has turned her attention to photographing spatial settings with precisely staged minimalist arrangements of materials and objects. In the two-dimensional medium of the photograph, these sculptural bodies acquire a sign-like or symbolic presence and become carriers of memories of haptic and immediate physical experiences.
The exhibition extends across 450 square metres and the three floors of the Kunsthalle Appenzell. It showcases new works while at the same time offering a retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre. Greeting the Unseen is Berweger’s first institutional solo exhibition, enabling her multimedia work to be presented comprehensively and experienced as a holistic organism.
The exhibition is kindly supported by
STIFTUNG ERNA UND CURT BURGAUER