Audrey Hope & Nick Koppenhagen

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We do not make ourselves. We cannot remake

ourselves through memory. Such was the

fallacy driving my memory theater. We are not

self-constituting beings. We are constituted

through the vast movement of history, of

which we are the largely quiescent effects.

Sundry epiphenomena. Symptoms of a

millennia-long malaise whose cause escapes

us. Memory theater cannot be reduced to my

memory, but has to reach down into the deep

immemorial strata that contain the latent

collective energy of the past. The dead who

still fill the air with their cries. The memory

theater would have to immerse itself in the

monumentally forgotten. Like a dredging

machine descending down through the lethic

waters of the contemporary world into the

sand, silt, and sludge of the sedimented past.

                       - Simon Critchley, Memory Theater


An Unkindness of Ravens

Wesley Simon


A cluster of symbols, feelings and experiences, Any Kind of Raven acts as

both a mnemonic repository and a living grimoire: invocations of memories and

moments of pastness, as well as world-building concepts that shape our

perceptions of reality, all appearing as so many deities and demigods of malleable

affect and temperament. It is an archive of spells, relics and icons that have deeply

mattered to each of the artists. Things that matter, have mattered, will matter,

coalescing in the alchemy of personal and collective memory and their

sublimation into both material and symbolic forms. It scrapes the edges of

nothingness to mine personal and collective significance, bringing together a

cascading array of matrices and tangled webs of the spectres of signification.

From the dialectical absurdity of unplayable “playing” cards that signify the

distillation of richly conceptual spheres into the precision of pithy incantations, to

the tangled nests of personal and social histories, sedimented and fused like

petrified mutations, the works in Any Kind of Raven map, codify, and amalgamate

the artists’ relations to place, world, and cosmos, to past, present, and future.

Through merging synthetic and organic forms, lexical and photographic

apparitions, and numerous points of reference and scale, these works remind us

that we are always thrown amidst a cluster of relations, like a chaotic flock, or as

the English expression goes, an unkindness of ravens, and that orienting ourselves

is always a form of aesthetic sorcery.

In his 1582 treatise on the relation between, and practical use of, signs,

images and ideas, De imaginum, signorum et idearum compositione, the

Renaissance philosopher and Dominican friar, Giordano Bruno, writes that all

beings fall into two distinct categories: things and their signifiers. The primary

concern of Bruno’s method of memory hinges upon this relation, or what he calls

the significance of things. While memory, both personal and collective, is the

ossuary of signification, memories are the signs and indications of things past,

stratified in the folds of temporality. It is precisely the invocation of such signs

that brings forth, like risen apostles in the catacombs of Rome, a world that is

constituted by the “collective energy of the past.” Being in the world is always a

mode of being-through-memory, the individual and collective past made present

from which the future is constantly emerging. The act of confronting this and

constructing a present space from which to ponder and navigate a world that is

always personal and social, terrestrial and cosmic, is a kind of ritual magic.

Art, as both reflection and investigation of the world, through unlimited

media, expression, and sensation, unveils the nuances of our myriad realities,

seemingly with no limitation that might lead to exhaustion. Of course, this very

word, “art,” is so convoluted and contested, and constantly contestable, that it is

essentially an empty signifier. Like the word “nothing,” it appears to signify some

thing, yet there is no stable referent to adhere to it. If nothingness is the vacuum

that somehow allows something to emerge, the space of poiesis, then perhaps art

is the aether that fills this emptiness with potential significance. More than mere

representation, it is a ritual for transformation and divination, between creator,

object and viewer.

Overfowing Condensations


In "Any Kind of Raven", the works of Nick Koppenhagen (1987, lives in Berlin) and Audrey Hope (1986, lives in Orlando, U.S.A.) bring together two complex personal systems and reveal commonalities in their respective artistic practices. The interweaving of different paths creates a concentration characterized by the simultaneity of associations, including contradictions. For example, in Koppenhagen's “Horizontal Twilight Spells” a permanent fickering between the real and its interpretation occurs when connections between places are drawn, and a superordinate system is imposed upon them. In the sculpture series “Disappointed Tourist”, Audrey Hope combines heterogeneous materials that would not

normally be associated with each other (bronze forms the foundation and is supplemented by various items, photos, and references). Both the multiple chains of association in Hope's objects and Koppenhagen's endlessly rearranging card layouts offer multiple readings of the same work, evoking an incessant oscillation between art, kitsch, and relic—to name just a few key terms. Considering the richness of allusions an overload is accepted, as is the contradiction that although these are playing cards, they are not meant to be played with (at least not in the conventional sense).


To avoid giving up in despair, a pair of “dream glasses” or a navigator of the subconscious could be helpful to spot biographical things that often serve as points of reference (is that Hope's brother in the photo?), or to fundamentally trace the intrinsic intensity of things, as both artists are concerned with objects as stores of memory and carriers of narratives (what do the medieval motifs on the cards tell us?).


Another commonality is walking—a rhythmic activity that has something ritualistic about it, and which in the form of memory walks represents the embodiment of remembrance. 


It is also striking that the manner of presentation in the exhibition is a primary component of the works. Both artists have developed new displays for “Any Kind of Raven” that emphasize the dialogue between the two and in which elements of the artworks are continued. Thus the impressions repeat themselves and assemble, piece by piece, into a condensed cosmos.


Anna-Lena Wenzel

Translation: Sarah Dudley

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