Thursday, 26 January 2012

Hanne Darboven

This review has been published by the Londonist

Verdict: Give it a miss
Where: Camden Arts Centre, Hampstead
When: 20 January - 18 March 2012

This is also the first UK solo exhibition for Hanne Darboven, a German conceptual minimalist artist. The walls of both galleries are covered with her writings, musical compositions and drawings. The content of these notes ranges from geometric shapes to indecipherable scribbling.

One of the larger installations is an entire wall of her notes and their lack of coherence makes it feel as if the gallery is displaying what was found on the wall of a serial killer’s home – or at least Hollywood’s interpretation of a serial killer’s wall.

As the notes are often illegible or unintelligible they feel as if they are her private scribblings and not for public viewing. This, coupled with her writing desk in the middle of the gallery, provides a sense of both intimacy and intrusiveness, as if you’ve been allowed, or trespassed, into the artist’s mind. This is heightened by the knowledge that Darboven died in 2009.

At the same time, the private nature of the notes is also what makes this exhibition difficult to penetrate for the viewer. Though we’ve been brought into the inner sanctum of the artist, it feels as if a cipher is needed to decode her work fully and understand her innermost thoughts.

This lack of complete understanding might leave a bitter aftertaste for many viewers as they may feel as if they’ve been led halfway only to find an insurmountable wall preventing them from making the most of Darboven’s work.

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