In this, his second exhibition in the Meyer Riegger Gallery, Björn Braun continues with his particular form of collaborations. Only, this time, the collaborators are once again different. Whereas in his “Untitled” works from the years 2013 and 2014, they were canaries, wild boars and landscapes, they are now mice, ravens, worms, magpies, rabbits and Hermann Hesse, who literally have a field day with the artist, hacking away at his raw materials. This ‘field’, however, is not a real, ploughed …
In this, his second exhibition in the Meyer Riegger Gallery, Björn Braun continues with his particular form of collaborations. Only, this time, the collaborators are once again different. Whereas in his “Untitled” works from the years 2013 and 2014, they were canaries, wild boars and landscapes, they are now mice, ravens, worms, magpies, rabbits and Hermann Hesse, who literally have a field day with the artist, hacking away at his raw materials. This ‘field’, however, is not a real, ploughed field, on which potatoes, apples and radishes are systematically cultivated. Braun’s field is the Berlin Tiergarten, an area in which he grew up and which has long been a place of highly diversified small-scale and miniature-scale urban climatic zones, whose biodiversity both botanically and zoologically would put any field in the countryside to shame – and not only in Brandenburg.
With his sixth sense for signs and spoors in any shape or form, Braun, together with rabbits and the above-mentioned sundry animals, has here ingested apples, potatoes and radishes piece by piece. It is important to stress the pieces, because just as no worm eats an apple all at one go, neither did Braun consume fruit and vegetables all on his own. Faithful to the old truth of early sociobiology that when two goats eat the same turnip it has nothing to do with food-sharing, Braun was not concerned here with any slicing and portioning wrapped up in eco-sophic language. What it is decidedly about, however, is metabolizing in pieces the cultural material that is apples, potatoes and radishes when diverse users leave diverse traces on one and the same sample.
What can be seen in this process are the imprints left by the various forms of teeth and bites in the only partially consumed material – imprints that are normally hardly noticed or not noticed at all, because they disappear with the apples and potatoes into the stomachs of their consumers. In Braun’s recasting, however, the visibility of these traces of biting and gnawing is not a prime goal, which as it were offers an access in art to so-called Nature. On the one hand, he destroys any illusion of immediacy by the very materials into which he transfers the nibbled fruit and vegetables. The apples are translated into polymer concrete or industrial concrete, the radishes into plaster and the potatoes into tin. And on the other hand, Braun arranges the re-cast objects to form various high pillars or columns. It seems not insignificant here that the sign-bearing column form responds to the call for democratic transparency. Signs on columns always used to serve, first and foremost, the sheer presentation of the signs in all their multiplicity and not in their general comprehensibility. The textures that emerge on Braun’s apples, potatoes and radishes follow in a certain way the effect of showing the variety of signs as in the ancient conception of a column. Braun’s art in this case consists in successfully leaving the traces on the material in all their crypticness, without them seeming esoteric. There is no secret knowledge that could give one a swifter access to this work than that which is acquired by close and detailed looking. Everything is as clear as day or night, just as the various activity times of Braun’s collaborators.
This is an aspect that can also be found in the artist’s wall-hung piece “Rusty Rain Italy”. For this work, Braun shredded two books – one a cheap novel entitled Rostiger Regen [Rusty Rain] and the other Hermann Hesse’s Italien [Italy] – in a mixer with water, and then squeezed out the result to make paper again. In this work too, the texture and remains of the lettering remain visible enough as traces to make it possible to guess or intuit the original material. Here too, however, Braun does not pester one with overly democratic educational didacticism, although the collocation of the cheap fiction title and Hermann Hesse’s over-determined Italy title is assuredly not lacking in wit and esprit. Only, the wall-painting is more than the wittiness of its title. As a landscape painting mounted on wood and stretcher frame, its residues of lead in the still visible printed letters take on something evil, something that cannot be so easily laughed away, just as the marks left by the bites are not simply easy to read.