19 Feb – 23 Feb. 2014

For its first participation to ARCOmadrid, the Galerie Jérôme Poggi is happy to present the work of a brazilian and german artist, Juliana Borinski, born in 1979.

Working with moving an still images in the field of experimental photography, Juliana Borinski presents  brand new works almost previously unseen before, as color photograms produced this winter at the Rotchenko Academy Moscow as well as former pieces. Her work has been shown in many institutions and international art events including ART ROTTERDAM art fair, 2014, (NL), the Ricard Foundation, 2013, (Paris) Pensé(z) Cinéma, 2013, CAC Meymac (FR) , Words, Words, Words, Gallery Beton 7, Athens 2012 (GR), l’Archéologie, un mythe contemporain, espace contemporain la Tolerie, Clermont-Ferrand 2012 (FR), le Monde clos à l’univers infini, Le Quartier, Centre d’art contemporain de Quimper 2012 (FR).

She  has  been nominated and awarded for different art prices, notably the Karl Schmitt-Rottluff grant for exceptional artistic talent 2012 (Ger), Time is Light Award 2011 (Ger),  Update II & IV Zebrastraat Gent 2012 & 2008 (BE) in collaboration with ZKM (Ger), Aide à la création DRAC Île de France 2011 (FR) Tiger Award, Rotterdam 2011 (NL).

Deconstructing visual media to their essential parameters has typically been modernist practice since the sixties, as for instance among the ‘structuralist’ or ‘materialist’ filmmakers. But Juliana Borinski obviously operates in a very different era from that heyday of conceptual art pratice. She creates her work in an intensely media-saturated society, where the pervasive impact of digital technology has thoroughly affected our notions of distance and speed, access and activity, time and space. And where the notion of an ‘image’ as such is no longer an evident, shared concept.

With her diplome work - an automated shadowplay based on a swirling ribbon of VHS-magnet tape - Borinski already playfully alluded to the epistemological gap between analog and digital media image production.  With the same conceptual wit Borinski has printed twenty-four frames of found 35mm footage on top of each other, compressing one second of average film viewing into a single snapshot: The Dark Mirror (2011-2013). In the contemporary context of digital ‘horror vacui,’ driven by an endless accumulation of information on silicon chips, flash drives and virtual clouds, such a physical layering of time fragments seems totally primitive.  Analogue media are rapidly becoming an anomaly. The pratical requirements are too labour intensive, factories and laboratories close one after the other and what was once the standard, is now rapidly becoming the exception. Yet these ‘slow’ characteristics are exactly what appeals to Borinski. With each of her composite, simple and yet complex pictures she invites us to stop and wonder. What is an image? What is it made of? What can we read into its surface?

Borinski’s focus on the materiality of disappearing media is not motivated by nostalgia, nor is it a regressive rejection. The main statement that resonates through all her work is that an awareness of medium-specificity is essential  to appreciate and understand the generative power of technology. By visualizing material characteristics Borinski invites us to sharpen our perception and (re-) discover a medium’s basic modes of expression. Approaching the image as an material object, where picture and support are one, the artist trades all figurative and perspectival codes for an archaeological descent into the layers within an image. With Into the soul of film (2010) for instance, Borinski guides us step by step, deeper and deeper into the sprocket hole of a film strip. This abstraction to nano-level generates images, that remind us of the subterranean caves where the first images traced by human hands were left behind.

As it goes with any archaeological excavation: it requires a trained eye and specialized expertise to recognize what lies before our eyes. With her mysterious, pseudo-heliogravure prints, the artist reminds us the fact that photography began as a graphical medium. The colourfully abstract LCD copperplates I & II (2012) appear like chemical battlefields, but are in fact similar ‘negatives,’ only much bigger. Borinski activated a basis of this metal, in a way similar to how photo pioneer Nicéphore Nièpce experimented with copperplates for his very first registrations. Whereas Nièpce required eight hours of bright sunlight to obtain a heliographic image, Borinski exposed her prepared plates to a slide projector for nearly three weeks. And the unstable, extremely slow chemical process still keeps on reacting further, mocking all preconceptions of photography as a snapshot. Borinski’s work is radical in the sense that she tries to locate the roots (‘radix’ in Latin) of a medium. Inspired by Foucault’s concepts of genealogy and archaeology, over the last decade a reaction to the simplicifications of dominant media theories has been formulated from different positions, under the umbrella term of ‘media archaeology.’

One of the most authorative and idiosyncratic voices in this lively discussion is Borinski’s teacher at the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, Siegfried Zielinski. The artist studied there at the time when Zielinski just had fully developped the key notions from his book ‘Deep Time of the Media – towards an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means.One of the recurring motto’s from this explicitely anti-progressist resistance to the dominant ideology of digital standardization reads like this: “Cultivating dramaturgies of difference is an effective remedy against the increasing ergonomization of the technical media worlds that is taking place under the banner of ostensible linear progress.” Cultivating differences, keeping her media in a state that is open and  transformable, is precisely what Borinkski does with her deliberately heterogenic oeuvre. Just as Zielinski’s Deep Time of the Media points us towards unattested or undervalued inventors and creators that don’t fit the ‘canon’ of media theory.

Borinski is also devoting one ongoing project to the figure of Joseph Plateau. Every book on the history of film mentions this Belgian professor (1801- 1881) as the scientist that perfected the basic principle for creating the suggestion of motion, which eventually led to the development of cinema. However well accredited for his scientific demonstration of animation as an optical illusion, most of his other pioneering achievements still remain underexposed. In 2011 Borinski started an ongoing project that refers back to Plateau’s research on surface tension and the visual aids he created to investigate this phenomenon, including wire models. With the pun in her title Surfaces of Plateau (1001 pictures) she alludes both to the digital realm (one’s and  zero’s), to Arab fairy tales and to the Mille Plateaux book by Deleuze and Guattari. The same verbal playfulness Borinski also recurs in works such as the slide projections Mnemosigne (2012) and LCD (2008). In 2011 Borinski started an ongoing project that refers back to Plateau’s research on surface tension and the visual aids he created to investigate this phenomenon, including wire models.  With the pun in her title Surfaces of Plateau (1001 pictures) she alludes both to the digital realm (one’s and zero’s), to Arab fairy tales and to the Mille Plateaux book by Deleuze and Guattari. The same verbal playfulness Borinski also recurs in works such as the slide projections Mnemosigne (2012) and LCD (2008).

Her former mentor Zielinski meanwhile reformulated his media archaeological ambitions into an ‘anarchaeology’ and then into a ‘variantology.’ His choice for this neologism is precisely because it does not lend itself to the purposes of standardisation. Borinski also remains ever focused on renewing the epistemological experience of visual media, confronting our cognitive conventions with technological images that we can no longer read ‘automatically.’ Playing out a dialectic between old and new media, confusing the perception of the viewer with future applications of past technologies is the essence of media archeology as an artistic method. Inviting us to decode he image protocols, Borinski confronts us with ‘doomed’ media prototypes that in her art works appear as if still in their formative phase. Going back to zero or to the bare essence? From a distinctly contemporary vantage point, Borinksi allows us to rediscover the potential of a medium, by seperating indexicality from what usually remains imperceptible, yet directly adressing the senses. These unorthodox, ‘empty’ images are full of promise, full of memory and hope.