The “Manoeuver” exhibition by the artist Benjamin Saurer, who grew up in the Black Forest and studied at the Städelschule in Frankfurt a. M., allows one to gain a comprehensive impression of his artistic practice for the first time. In addition to location-specific works, the show conceived especially for the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Collections in Donaueschingen presents selected works from recent years.
The protagonists of Saurer’s image vocabulary are borrowed from the cultural memory of various historical-discursive constellations, such as early education, the colonial conquests and the escapism of the counter-reformation. Ecstatic visions, didactic instructions for language acquisition, devout expressions of gratitude or cannibalistic rituals are always used in symbolic and typologising ways.
These motifs are mostly located in the textile background of the image with a complex, seductive and at the same time difficult to comprehend haptic. This is created by Saurer using a multi-tiered, seemingly pre-industrial manufacturing process with wax, bleaching agents and colour pigments. The results are reproduced in some of the exhibited works using modern printing technology in grayscale and thus robbed of an opposing step in their seemingly essential formal characteristics. Saurer’s artistic instruments also include installative accents that assume a unifying role in sculptural and architectural forms, thus emphasising the overall character of the exhibition. The comparative approach in terms of process and production methods in conjunction with historical-genealogical strategies serve to expose breaks in the context of social and cultural narratives. Saurer calls upon the viewer in this way to make observations on social forms of appropriation, as well as specific individual attitudes in the field of tension between reverence and shamelessness, helplessness and self-empowerment, alienation and cultural conditioning.
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