IN THE GARDEN
Trees get old, but concrete lasts forever. Concrete is raw, while trees grow and flower. With Heidi Specker we are “In the Garden”. A garden that knows no horizons. Trunks and bushes rise straight in front of the facades. Biotopes resist the idyll, and no soil could serve as a anchoring point, because Specker stays obstinately at eye-level.
If the gardens mark a border, the spectator quickly finds himself facing a wall. Especially in the urban garden. Here, facing the wall, one feels fragility: slender and utterly vulnerable plants brave the stone, while the stone claims to have unshakeable power – nature is up against the wall. But these are not victims of civilisation; Specker is aiming for the essential. On the one hand, she analyses photographic techniques for producing images; and on the other, the nature of the material and how it is received. With all her senses, she comes close to imperceptible realities. She explores forms and joins the tree ants. Specker stays as close as possible to objects, merging their differences. With her motifs of bark and knots, and cracks in concrete, she operates on a micro-level and encounters basic structures. Working with raw material, she naturalises concrete and reconciles its artificiality with nature. All is One.
Acting within dialectics, she bypasses judgments and the chicken-and-egg issue. Humdrum considerations are of interest, however: what endures longer, branch genetics or concrete? What does “urban life” mean? What is “nature”? But Specker doesn’t stop there: she leads the spectator along encoded routes. Rendering the urban garden abstract, she tracks matrixes, the universal formula or the soul of the material.
Tamed nature – whether porous-stone ornaments, monolithic blocks of perfect structural neutrality, wind-swept ailanthus trees, a birch tree signifying the petite bourgeoisie, or a granite mountain topped by an extraterrestrial helix – corresponds to the sterile world of a perception oriented towards objectivity. In the dual structures of plant-enriched interstices, Specker strips bare general expressions with great precision.
She causes model codes to mutate in an experimental, narrative way. She challenges the order obtained through alienation. The lighting is sometimes radically absurd. Then there are the powerfully assertive colours: trees describe an expansive surface of shimmering and saturated colours, absorbing the background with a schizophrenic, unreal depth that dazzles the eye. The tree-trunk elements are isolated, as if laid bare by a scalpel. The final outcome of the foundation-less material is sterility, a sort of punishment. Heidi Specker follows it, moving towards the essence of life.
These are motifs which confer support poetically and inspirationally: bark corresponding with concrete. Although their relationship is like that of water and oil, ontological logics appear, which Specker reinforces with blank backgrounds. She observes in a particular, detailed way – in a rear-view mirror, so to speak – in order to tame the rebel. Specker celebrates a contemplation of the Urban.
Exhibition organised in collaboration with Barbara Thumm Gallery, Berlin.