Showing alongside and in parallel with each other at Birsfelden’s SALTS between January 31 and March 13, a solo exhibition by Tyra Tingleff and a joint one by Gina Folly and Mandla Reuter are connected by their position in relation to movement, or lack there of. With a press release subtitled ‘Timeless’, Tingleff’s Closer Scrub is neither about emptiness, nor is it motionless. Within her impressionist paintings hung across two white-walled rooms, there is a variation in brightness, hue and saturation, that speaks to a layering of events. Time can be ceased and compressed with a huge number of episodes, images and information; each scratched and tortured canvas is imbued with these on a timeline, their meaning embedded in each brushstroke. It’s a collision of data within a linearity that disrupts a ‘natural’ flow of time.
Folly and Reuter’s shared Ströme (German for ‘streams’, or ‘currents’) exhibition on the other hand, explores nature as its theme but not nature itself. Instead, theirs is a copied or conceptualised idea of the ‘natural’ in contemporary urban areas. Throughout the works, both artists focus on these artificial representations in pieces made of polycarbonate, stainless-steel, even a Sodium-vapor lamp. In response to a constructed world of artificial infrastructure, these are industrial materials that rely on natural elements to produce them.
Folly’s work, particularly, investigates the modern zoos or animal parks mirroring the fantasy of the natural world in the Magic Box (2015) series and a projection of a rainforest on a wall in So Far (2014). The boxes are food containers for monkeys foraging in captivity, giving a simplified version of natural events. Meanwhile, Reuter presents an ancient manhole cover that indicates the existence of a stream of water underneath. It acts as a medium separating an invisible underground from its visible, man-made, surface. A cover for this hidden artificial infrastructure of a stream captured for the sake of supporting a human population, the current of cultural exchange is embodied in this water shipped from Iquitos, Peru, via Lima to Rotterdam.
It’s this sort of flow and motion of cultural production that draws both Ströme and Closer Scrub together. Where Reuter’s bright yellow gas lamp imitates time shifting from night to day, as well as a day-light lamp enhancing the natural light that already exists, Tingleff’s Closer Scrub obscures a sense of time, or duration in action. Both generate a surreal state separating the gallery space from the outside, which in this case is nature. **