ULLA VON BRANDENBURG – « IT HAS A GOLDEN SUN AND AN ELDERLY GREY MOON, PART I & II » – Kunsthal Aarhus (Danemark) – 10 november, 2017 – 25 february, 2018.

Ulla von Brandenburg explores her distinct visual language reflecting on the traditions and tropes of theatre and storytelling. Bringing together film, architecture and installation in von Brandenburg’s unique signature style, the exhibition takes its title from her latest work It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon (2016) – a commission supported through a partnership of five organisations and reconfigurated for European Capital for Culture Aarhus 2017.

Von Brandenburg’s works, characterised by their use of curtains, costumes, props and staged settings, draw on a range of historical references, including the tableau vivant, modern theatre, folk traditions and iconic architecture. Combined with song and movement, these elements suggest a symbolic staging of ritualised encounters that are central to her oeuvre.

At Kunsthal Aarhus, the lower gallery becomes the stage for a site-specific installation that invites the visitor to navigate through a number of objects. Spread across the gallery floor like theatre props, the diverse ceramic, wooden or textile objects display von Brandenburg’s deep engagement with the traditions of craft. The central free standing wall becomes the screen for the exhibition’s eponymous 16 mm film It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon. It captures a performance played out across a staircase installed on the stage of the Amandiers Theatre in Nanterre, France. Monochromatic in its setting, the scene is punctuated by the choreographed movement of several dancers who perform in a sequence, holding variously coloured sheets of fabric in front of them. The distribution of objects and actions within the space, the ways bodies move and act recall to memory ancient rituals and gestures anchored deeply in the collective consciousness. Becoming staged rites and rituals related to gift-giving, the performed notions of exchange also reveal the aesthetic in human interactions.

Film and installation are paired with a new performance, unfolding the architecture of the film’s staging as well as the film’s choreographies into the exhibition space. Captured in video and screened in the installation afterwards, the movements resonate through several overlapping layers, part I & II, of the work. This constant shift of the performative space highlights the importance of space in the reception and display of works, a concern that is central to von Brandenburg’s approach to exhibition-making.

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