13 May 2014

ANNA VIRNICH: WHEN YOU DANCE WITH THE DEVIL

Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne
all images: Anna Virnich "When You Dance With The Devil" (Apr 4 – May 17, 2014) at DREI, Cologne // courtesy: the artist; DREI, Cologne // © Anna Virnich


The flesh-tinted silk cloth lied in a corner of a small textile shop in Sri-Lanka, when Anna Virnich first discovered it. Stained with grease, perhaps serving as a napkin, the salesman refused Virnich's request to purchase the piece, arguing that it was too dirty and certainly not meant for sale. It took her a while to successfully convince him, but eventually she was able to bring the cloth, along with many other textiles and items from Sri-Lanka back to Germany. Now, sewed together and neatly framed on long wooden stretchers, the unchanged flesh-tinted silk transformed into a work of art (Untitled #15, 2014), hanging on the walls of Galerie DREI in Cologne and still smelling of patchouli. 

For her exhibition "When you dance with the Devil", the 1984-born artist mostly assembled the inspiration from her stay in the South Asian country and formed excellent work, pairing cultural details and superstitious rites with a sensuous, and yet clean contemporary language that is so typical for Berlin-based Anna Virnich. While only four large textile-wall-objects seem to define the space, a small avocado plant is placed in the middle of the gallery floor. It is, however, not only through the obvious gesture of involving a living plant, that the show implies an animate and a distinct brute sensation.

Experimenting with the combination of smell and visual perception, Virnich added several nuances of scents that she applies, as if it was a palette of colours. Around the black wall object "Leather Oh Heather" it smells intensely of lamb leather: Four pieces of dyed lambskin are loosely sewed together on wooden stretchers. Paired with a small perfume bottle of Vierges et Toreros – literally: Virgins and bullfighters, a scent that promises to make men more attractive to women – both objects suggest a carnal and sexual aesthetic. 

The exhibition comprises both, a sense of death and decay, as well as a sense of growth and reincarnation. This dialectic is played out as a confrontation in the smaller entrance room: "Traurige Tropen" (sad tropics) shows green silk leafs that are loosely sewed on a white, three-part canvas (which appears absurdly site-specific, as if picks ups on the form of the radiator right next to it). On the opposite wall, the small video "Evil Eye" shows a detail loop of something, maybe herbs, that is slowly burning. Anna Virnich re-staged a renowned rite, from which many of Sri-Lanka's inhabitants expect a salvation from the devil's punishment. "When you dance with the Devil" - the exhibition's title – is also a proverb. It continues "you will get burnt."


Anna Virnich
When You Dance With The Devil
Apr 4 – May 17, 2014

DREI
Arndtstrasse. 4
50676 Cologne
Opening Hours: Wed - Sat, 14h - 18h

We met Anna Virnich for an interview in 2012. Read it here.


Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne Anna Virnich, When You Dance With The Devil, Apr 4 – May 17, 2014, DREI, Cologne all images: Anna Virnich "When You Dance With The Devil" (Apr 4 – May 17, 2014) at DREI, Cologne // courtesy: the artist; DREI, Cologne // © Anna Virnich
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