Monday, January 25, 2010

John von Bergen@Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York

January 16 - February 21, 2010

John von Bergen
Whip Lash

As I walk through the streets of Dumbo, I am compelled to re-examine my body in relationship to space, and before long my imagination begins to run wild, transforming reality into an apocalyptic situation. Streets that would normally function as stable surfaces underfoot begin to relate more to the surface of a volcanic island than to a twenty-first century metropolis: bricks and gravel merge with streetcar tracks and manholes, which then merge with dirt and vegetation, all bound by rubble and cement and perhaps other substances unknown to me. The walk towards Brooklyn Bridge Park along the river may offer a safe and distant view of Manhattan, yet tranquility is interrupted at unexpected intervals by the deafening sound of trains ripping across the Manhattan Bridge. At this moment I imagine being trapped between the tons of steel produced for these bridges, cars, and trains, and the safe distance to Manhattan from Brooklyn becomes some kind of phenomenal mirage. I turn around to seek refuge in the old Boiler Building now known as Smack Mellon. I feel some safety and security among the pillars and walls of the enormous factory space, triggering memories of churches from my childhood, and this space may serve as temporary protection from the outside world, until paranoia takes over once again.

Quite unique to Smack Mellon is the monstrous white wall that stands directly behind a row of rusted pillars. The ability to view the full scale of the wall is obstructed by these pillars, which are in many ways the true veterans of this building. Whip Lash considers the results of a violent (yet undoubtedly absurd) interaction between the representation of a white-skinned-rusted pillar and the wall itself. As forms and materials shift, an idea of reality may shift. The visitor’s reading of the work is informed by personal history and memory, or more ominously, a premonition of what is waiting around the corner, down the road.

John von Bergen was born in Connecticut in 1971 and received his B.F.A. Degree with Honors at The School of Visual Arts in New York. In 2003, von Bergen moved to Berlin with an invitation from the Berlin Senate for Science, Research, and Culture. Since living in Germany, von Bergen's work has been exhibited in various galleries, museum, and venues, including Halle 14 in Leipzig, Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, Kunstraum Innsbruck in Austria, The Brno House of Art in Czech Republic, and The Pera Museum in Istanbul.

In October 2009 von Bergen presented his fourth solo exhibition titled “SOOTO hungry” with Galerie Lena Bruening in Berlin. Upcoming exhibitions include a group show at The Freies Museum in Berlin (March, 2010) and a solo exhibition at the Kjubh Kunstverein in Cologne (May, 2010). John von Bergen is a 2009 - 2010 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grantee.