Georgina Lago: The Highlights of Hansard

English Student Georgina Lago describes the influence of the particular work of Charlotte Posenenske within the Time After Time exhibition, and how it provided a stimulating and conceptual experience for her.

Image: John Hansard Gallery, 2018. Charlotte Posenenske, Vierkantrohre Serie DW (1967–2018).

Time After Time is an exhibition showcasing a selection of installations that were displayed in John Hansard Gallery’s former location between the years of 1992 and 2016. The gallery’s second exhibition is a perfect transition into the new space at Guildhall square as it allows new audiences to become acquainted with its previous collections and aware of their emphasis on site-tailored commissions.

In 24 years the Hansard gallery at Highfield campus displayed many works from a number of commissioned artists. The sheer volume of previously presented pieces emphasises the judicious selection of the six artists in the Time After Time exhibition. However, one piece in particular stood out to me. Charlotte Posenenske’s work is a perfect example of how Time After Time encourages the audience to reconsider the boundaries of what forms ‘art’. It plays with the lines between the visual and the conceptual, allowing the role of the viewer to become more prominent than the role of the artist when consuming the pieces on display.

The exhibition presents Posenenske’s, Vierkantrohre Serie DW (1967-2018). At a glance Posenenske’s work did not grab my attention as the other works in the gallery did. This piece is constructed from corrugated cardboard and plastic attachments and in this particular variation the structure lacks obvious artistic grandeur. The banal materials and the lack of captivating structure initially left me feeling underwhelmed by the piece. However, my appreciation of Posenenske’s minimalist creation does not lie with its most apparent function. The visual consumption of the piece feels less significant than the symbolic nature of the work.

A reconfiguration of Posenenske’s original cardboard prototype is on display as assembled by the gallery because there are no given instructions by the artist for its construction. Posenenske gives the audience the ability to rework her piece and removes its uniqueness as a stance against the conventional values of the art market. Further, the choice of cardboard and plastic also remove the material value of her work to comment on the commercialisation of art. The symbolic and political messages behind the work are far more engaging to me than the visual presentation of the artist’s work

Posenenske’s contribution to Vierkantrohre Serie DW provides only a small part of the viewer’s experiencel the reader’s perception of the unassuming beige boxes constructs the real meaning. This calls to mind Barthe’s work in ‘The Death of the Author’ and raises similar questions about ownership and interpretation of a text. By allowing the gallery to assemble the piece according to the exhibiting space as opposed to the artists instruction it allows audiences to see the piece differently, playing with the boundaries of what it actually means to see a specific piece of art. If the same materials are visually reworked has the consumer still observed the same piece of art? Is the visual aspect of art what classifies it as such or is the utilization of the artists initial concept by the audience the only thing that matters?

The Time After Time exhibition certainly provides stimulating and conceptual contemporary pieces that allow audiences to expand their understanding of traditional art forms. Any gallery with a collection this promising over the past 30 years certainly has great promise for exhibitions to come.

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