Report from Berlin: Judith Hopf’s idiosyncratic vision

Judith Hopf, Stepping Stairs installation view at KW Institute for Contemporary Art. (Photos: Frank Sperling)

Contributed by Loren Britton / Berlin-based artist Judith Hopf, known for idiosyncratic combinations, is invested in post-painting practices coming out of Fluxus conversations between George Brecht and Allan Kaprow. In her sculpture show “Judith Hopf: Stepping Stairs” at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, she moves from sculpture to exhibition furniture and back, the transformed everyday materials in the exhibition constituting hybrids in material, form, function, content, meaning, and use.

Judit Hopf, installation, Untitled (Laptop Men).

Hopf refers to Felix Gonzales-Torres’ beaded curtain, installed in the lobby into the main gallery, via two symmetrical strips with LED lights hanging in groupings of three titled Untitled (Email Lines). The press release explains that these are:

 a physical manifestation of the seemingly endless back and forth conversations that we carry around dematerialized on our devices. Untitled (Email Lines) questions how communication can be defined nowadays, especially in regards to the relationship between work and leisure, since both are widely pursued through the same device.

Hopf’s Untitled (Laptop Men) are scattered in the next room. As though stumbling onto Seurat’s Island of La Grande Jatte, the figures are seated, at mid-height, or fully standing, each perched in unique harmony with its laptop. It’s as though each laptop had been fused with its user. Embedded in this work is Hopf’s penetrating observation that people, both in interacting with others and in merely entertaining themselves, have in a psychologically real sense become their screens. This body / screen / hybrid / support reality complements artist Jillian Mayer’s Slumpies (on view  at Postmasters through March 31), for which Mayer has created new supports for the body allowing humans and their phone screens to be more in synch. Mayer, at least in prototype, seems to realize the physical requirements that Hopf imagines in her sculptures.

Judith Hopf, Hand 4, 2017, Installation view at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Courtesy the artist and Deborah Schamoni, Munich, Photo- Frank Sperling

Judith Hopf, installation
Judith Hopf, installation

Finally, in the room on the lowest level of the gallery space, Hopf’s remarkable brick sculptures, accompanied by two videos shown behind a black satin curtain. These pieces conjure hands, walls (tall and small), balls, pears, and dividers. They call on considerable technical capability and skill: a very fast circular saw or sander and an extremely deft touch must have been needed to craft form from such porous material. The hand sculptures seem to be conveying coded messages, though their specific meaning is obscure. At the same time, the solidity and weight of the sculptures are palpable, and conceptually encourage slow and deliberate contemplation of what that meaning might be.

Judith Hopf: Stepping Stairs,” KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany. Through April 15, 2018.

About the author: A recent graduate of Yale’s MFA program, Loren Britton  is a co-founder of the curatorial projects  Improvised Showboat (with Zachary Keeting), lcqueryprojects (with Christie DeNizio), and Queering Space. Britton also maintains a solo curatorial and art practice that shape-shifts in form from project to project.

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