September 2 — October 17, 2021
at Moltkerei Werkstatt
Special thanks to
Schwarzes Haus Düsseldorf, Julia Woll,
Lubow Schneider and all Volunteers
photos: Bernhard Adams
kindly supported by Kulturamt Koeln
With the exhibition Cosmic Momento, Theresa Weber explores cultural identity and self-location by using chaos theory to question the role of unpredictability within a socio-critical framework. At both the macro and micro level, chaos theory permeates her thought process and forces us to depart from a strictly linear and causal worldview. In line with this approach, even the smallest changes found everywhere turbulence occurs – with the weather, in currents, and in all nonlinear systems – can have oversized effects that are not deterministic. Simultaneously informed by the theories of Édouard Glissant, her artistic practice proceeds from the premise that: „cultural interrelationships operate as much in ruptures and dislocations as in symbioses. They are perhaps fractal in nature: hence our world is also a world of chaos.“ („Introduction to a Poetics of Diversity.“)
In the hanging altar windows, Weber presents traces of the human body left behind by synthetic hair, fingernails, and beads that have been cast in polyester resin. These materials form points of contact with various cultures, including the African diaspora. Of particular importance are traditions of braiding hair, which must be read as a sign of both belonging and identity. The works thus perform a balancing act between chaos and order, between the unformed and the solidified. When viewed as a whole, they resemble topographies, but upon closer examination of details such as the cast pearls, they also evoke associations with moving atoms. In the language of chaos theory, these “fractals” are aesthetic; we do not remember facts, but processes. Accordingly, the beauty in an unmoved object lies in its ability to undergo multiple processes through collision and intertwining, repulsions and attractions, or correspondences and contrasts.
Theresa Weber leaves hints in her works that appear intuitive, fragile, and ambivalent, while also displaying the extraordinary diversity of our world. For example, her Transparency Masks, facial casts of people from the artist’s inner circle, are made of translucent silicone and thus create a formal connection to the Cosmic Momento works. On one hand, the omission of skin color generates hope for a non- discriminatory, anti-racist society to be located in the collective. On the other hand, the resemblance between these face casts and death masks points to the long history of international racism that persists in systemic structures to this day. Further details which Weber uses to illustrate this are the blue tiles in the floor, which allude to the Ishtar Gate in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, thus implicating modern repositories of cultural objects from all over the world as sites of stolen goods.
The works Cosmic Momento Blue and Cosmic Momento Black further reinforce these ideas and approaches by depicting the cosmos and the deep sea as sought after places of longing. Drawing on Afrofuturism, the act of imagining dreamscapes in the distant future creates tools of empowerment and symbols of hope for a (still) uncertain future free of discrimination with equality for all.