Andrea Büttner, exhibition view, works of the series Beggar, 2017; Fabric Painting, 2017
Courtesy Andrea Büttner: the artist; Hollybush Gardens, London; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; Galerie Tschudi, Zuoz
Photo: Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Gunnar Meier
Andrea Büttner with David Raymond Conroy and Friedensbibliothek/Antikriegsmuseum Berlin
Andrea Büttner’s (*1972/D, lives in London and Frankfurt) artistic practice is multifaceted and creates an area of tension between ethics and aesthetics, subjectivity and culture. Büttner deals with themes such as the attribution of value, poverty and shame using various media including woodcuts, sculptures, textile works and video installations. For her first exhibition at a Swiss institution, Büttner is extending the invitation from Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen: in dialogue with her work she is presenting an exhibition about Simone Weil borrowed from the Friedensbibliothek/Antikriegsmuseum Berlin (Peace Library/ Anti-War Museum) and a film from fellow artist David Raymond Conroy, (You (People) Are All The Same). «Gesamtzusammenhang» («Bigger Picture») brings together artistic and non-artistic questions which encompass humanity in connection with work, community and belief.
In such ethical and aesthetic examinations Andrea Büttner is interested in turning points. The artist works with woodcuts and shows religiously and symbolically charged motifs such as dancing nuns, heaven, beggars, coins or potatoes and sentences like ‘I want to let the work fall down’ or ‘Yes, I believe every word you say’ which challenge contemporary expectations — as does the medium of the woodcut. This centuries-old technique communicates simply and directly but retains an artistic aura of having been made. Besides this, Büttner includes architectonic interventions in the exhibition — panels covered with textiles which are actually used for work uniforms.
Echoing existing visual formulae or cultural connotations allows Büttner to question the moral dimension of appropriation. This question also arises with her choice to include the Simone Weil exhibition in her show, and is addressed in Conroy’s film. In (You (People) Are All The Same) the film-maker critically examines the ‘artist as observer of the other’ and to what extent good art and good gestures correlate. His work reflects the development process of a film about homeless people in Las Vegas in which Conroy confronts possibilities for the honest production of art.
The humanisation of work, human dignity, warmth and empathy not only interest Büttner in her own works and Conroy’s film but also in the thought and action of the philosopher Simone Weil. For «Gesamtzusammenhang» Büttner has borrowed an existing exhibition about Weil from the Friedensbibliothek/Antikriegsmuseum Berlin. Founded in the GDR under the auspices of the Protestant Church, the Friedensbibliothek/Antikriegsmuseum Berlin, with its mobile exhibitions, was part of a resistance movement due to its social networking and critiques of the regime. This integrated exhibition raises questions about the efficiency of messages and their displays. Therewith Büttner also tests her own art in direct confrontation with aesthetic practices which are simultaneously both close to and distant from her own.
In “Gesamtzusammenhang” the individual is confronted with fair-minded coexistence and a diversity of opportunities for action and communication. In the process Büttner shifts the focus from isolated issues to overriding questions: humanity is approached in its philosophical, religious, artistic and political dimensions.
Andrea Büttner (b.1972 in Stuttgart) studied art at the Berlin University of the Arts, Art History and Philosophy at the Humboldt University Berlin and received her doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London (PhD). She lives and works in London and Frankfurt am Main. Solo exhibitions (selection): Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart (2016); David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2016); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2016); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2015); Tate Britain, London (2014); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011); Hollybush Gardens, London (2008). Group exhibitions (selection): Mary Boone Gallery, New York (2016); British Art Show 8, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2016); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012); 29. São Paulo Biennale, São Paulo (2010).