Mariele Neudecker’s exhibition at Hestercombe Gallery unlocks three decades of work
Hestercombe Gallery in Somerset, UK, presents SEDIMENT – a solo exhibition devoted to German artist Mariele Neudecker, which includes Arts at CERN's commission Everything Happens Once.
With a practice spanning sculpture, video, painting, photography and sound, Mariele Neudecker investigates the formation and historical dissemination of cultural constructs around the natural and technological world. Throughout her three-decade career, the artist has engaged with scientists and engineers, as well as their research and methodologies, participating in Arts at CERN's Guest Artists programme several times. Since her first short stay in the Laboratory in 2014, Neudecker came again four times between 2016 and 2020 to engage with CERN's research and community.
She was inspired by the apparent contradiction of the high-tech scientific research and the aesthetics of the experiments she visited. "You can see lots of tinfoil, plastic, tape and cables everywhere. This fascinated me from the first time I visited. It has a bizarre homemade quality to it. Yet, it's probably the world's biggest and most sophisticated experiment," she said about her visits to the CMS and ALICE detectors at the Large Hadron Collider, the Antimatter Factory, and the CLOUD Experiment, which she links to her own practice. "A lot of my work relates to looking at the exterior of something and considering what's hidden inside, what's underneath – the things that are out of sight."
One of the exhibition's highlights is Everything Happens Once, a video installation commissioned by Arts at CERN and supported by the Didier and Martine Primat Foundation and its special fund Odonata. This commission is part of Primat Foundation's multi-year partnership and grant scheme, which aims to foster creative interactions between arts, sciences and nature.
For Everything Happens Once, Neudecker filmed in The Cosmic Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD) Experiment with the group of researchers led by British particle physicist Jasper Kirkby. The CLOUD Experiment uses a special cloud chamber to study the possible link between galactic cosmic rays and cloud formation, contributing to our fundamental understanding of aerosols and clouds, and their effect on climate.
The installation consists of two screens moving along the wall on two long tracks, matching the speed at which the shots in the experimental hall were filmed. The artist introduces unknown elements, including shielding for nuclear piping, concrete blocks and cardboard boxes, while the footage on the monitors plays randomly, programmed to adopt unpredictable choices. Viewers are invited to enter these two portals that show different realities of the CLOUD Experiment, creating a "kind of moving window effect".
The exhibition also dives into Neudecker's quest to find a 'contemporary sublime', with works exploring the deep sea, the Arctic and environmental concerns. Nothing Will Stay the Same is a part of her ongoing series Tank Works. Inspired by romantic paintings, she fuses chemistry and sculpture to construct three-dimensional landscapes within glass aquariums. In Nothing Will Stay the Same, the artist reimagines the Arctic seascapes of painter William Bradford placing a ship stuck in the ice inside a glass tank, and creates a clear atmosphere that evokes the Arctic air.
Using the visual effects created by glass and water, the perception of foreground, midground and background is disrupted inside the tanks, while the contained climates gradually change over time. The result is an intriguing representation of two-dimensional images recreated as dynamic, sculptural works.
Other works in the gallery include an archive of images of her recurrent trips to Greenland, new digital drawings onto photos created in lockdown, and drawings related to deep sea exploration. SEDIMENT is at Hestercombe near Taunton, Somerset, from 14 August – 24 October 2021.
Main image: Mariele Neudecker, We Saw It Coming All Along [1 & 2] 2019, (detail), mixed media on archive print on board. © Mariele Neudecker
Article by Ana Prendes, Communications and Content Producer