The exhibition presents for the first time the complete series of Split Representation painted photo-collages where Penker applies a formal method image making discussed by Claude Levi-Strauss in his essay Split Representation in the Art of Asia and the America. Here Levi-Strauss compares different cultures in different periods in time, ranging from Shang (China, 1600-1000 BC), Caduveo (Brazil) Maori (New Zealand) and Haida Gwaii (Canada), which all used identical stylistic elements and show obvious analogies in how they conceived the body and face. The face is not seen from the front but two profiles are merged in order to form a symmetrical frontal view, a much earlier concept of conceiving multi-dimensionality, akin to later developments within Modernism. Today we find parallels to the concept of the body within montage, 3D imaging and image capture.
The accompanying sound piece Comparative Morphemes is based on the classification of languages, when linguists attempted to group the world’s languages into four morphological categories based on how words are formed (Chinese, Turkish, Latin, Eskimo). In Penker’s composition a selected language from each of these groups is deconstructed into minimal phonetic units and transformed into a sonic structure.
The exhibition is a prelude to her upcoming publication Split Representation and Related Works, to be published in autumn 2015.
Elisabeth Penker studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo. In 2005 Penker undertook a research residency at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, followed by a doctoral research fellowship at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Additionally she worked in sound studios in Chicago (Maestro Matic) and London (De Lane Lea) for film post-production.
She lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
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